Thought and Reality

Thought and Reality

Thought and Reality

Thought and Reality

Synopsis

In this short, lucid, rich book, Sir Michael Dummett, perhaps the most eminent living British philosopher, sets out his views about some of the deepest questions in philosophy. The fundamental question of metaphysics is: what does reality consist of? Dummett puts forward his controversial view of reality as indeterminate: there may be no fact of the matter about whether an object does or does not have a given property.

Excerpt

When, in 1996, I was invited to give some Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews, I asked whether it was a requirement that I publish them. ‘It is not a requirement,’ was the answer, ‘but it is usual to do so.’ Well, I thought, that will be a task for the later part of my retirement. I had in advance envisaged retirement as a period in which I should be my own master: free to work at what I chose, at whatever pace I chose. I found it quite unlike that. I have been retired for thirteen years now, and this is the first time I have felt myself free to do whatever work I like. As is shown by the craters on the Moon and on all other planetary satellites that have been inspected by space probes, those bodies have been bombarded by meteoroids and rocks flying around in space. in my experience, a retired academic is like a planetary satellite: he is bombarded by requests: ‘Would you contribute to a volume I am editing on ?’, ‘I hope you will come and give us a lecture on one of the following dates ’, ‘We shall be very interested if you would deliver a paper at the conference I am organizing on ’. Each thinks, ‘Now he is retired, he will have plenty of time’. Oxford University has indeed left me severely alone, asking nothing of me since I laid down my academic duties; no one else has. There has not been a moment in those thirteen years when I have not been writing something under pressure. I admit that some of the pressure was self-imposed, such as composing my Principles of Electoral Reform and the English version of my Origins of Analytical Philosophy. the most laborious of these has been the compilation, with my co-author John McLeod, of our History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack. My heartfelt thanks go to John McLeod and the publisher, Mellen Press, and to John McLeod for making this possible. Originally, I proposed to write the whole book by myself; had I done so, I should not have finished yet. It . . .

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