The Many Faces of Realism

The Many Faces of Realism

The Many Faces of Realism

The Many Faces of Realism

Synopsis

An introduction to realism which concentrates on the alternatives to metaphysical realism and cultural relativism. The author places her thoughts in a historical context, appraises Kantian circumstances and defends moral objectivity.

Excerpt

When I wrote Reason, Truth and History, I described my purpose as breaking the stranglehold which a number of dichotomies have on our thinking, chief among them the dichotomy between 'objective' and 'subjective' views of truth and reason. I described my view thus (p. xi): "I shall advance a view in which the mind does not simply 'copy' a world which admits description by One True Theory. But my view is not a view in which the mind makes up the world (or makes it up subject to constraints imposed by 'methodological canons' and mind-independent 'sense- data'). If one must use metaphorical language, then let the metaphor be this: the mind and the world jointly make up the mind and the world."

The invitation to give the Paul Carus Lectures at the December 1985 meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Washington, D.C. provided me with the opportunity to further specify the alternative that I see to metaphysical realist views of reality and truth, on the one hand, and to cultural relativist ones, on the other. In the earlier book I described current views of truth as 'alienated' views, views which cause one to lose one or another part of one's self and the world; in these lectures I have tried to elaborate on this remark, and on the connection between a non-alienated view of truth and a non-alienated view of human flourishing.

The custom is for the Carus Lectures to be published in an expanded form--sometimes at many times the length of the lectures that were actually given. Here I have tried to stay close to my actual lectures in Washington with one signal change; I have inserted a lecture (the present Lecture II) which was not actually read in Washington. Keeping the lecture format has seemed to me preferable to a rewriting . . .

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