I

INTRODUCTION

This book is about a single problem: how to combine the perspective of a particular person inside the world with an objective view of that same world, the person and his viewpoint included. It is a problem that faces every creature with the impulse and the capacity to transcend its particular point of view and to conceive of the world as a whole.

Though it is a single problem, it has many aspects. The difficulty of reconciling the two standpoints arises in the conduct of life as well as in thought. It is the most fundamental issue about morality, knowledge, freedom, the self, and the relation of mind to the physical world. Our response or lack of response to it will substantially determine our conception of the world and of ourselves, and our attitude toward our lives, our actions, and our relations with others. By tracing this element through a number of philosophical problems, I hope to offer a way of seeing them that others may also find natural.

If one could say how the internal and external standpoints are related, how each of them can be developed and modified in order to take the other into account, and how in conjunction they are to govern the thought and action of each person, it would amount to a world view. What I have to say about these questions is not unified enough to deserve that title; one of my claims will be that often the pursuit of a highly unified conception of life and the world leads to philosophical mistakes—to false reductions or to the refusal to recognize part of what is real.

-3-

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The View from Nowhere
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The View from Nowhere *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • I - Introduction 3
  • II - Mind 13
  • III - Mind and Body 28
  • IV - The Objective Self 54
  • V - Knowledge 67
  • VI - Thought and Reality 90
  • VII - Freedom 110
  • VIII - Value 138
  • IX - Ethics 164
  • X - Living Right and Living Well 189
  • XI - Birth, Death, and the Meaning of Life 208
  • Bibliography 233
  • Index 239
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