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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Fear of Knowledge by Paul Boghossian. Relativist and constructivist conceptions of truth and knowledge have become orthodoxy in vast stretches of the academic world in recent times.
In his long-awaited first book, Paul Boghossian critically examines such views and exposes their fundamental flaws. Boghossian focuses on three different ways of reading the claim that knowledge is socially constructed--one as a the Relativist and constructivist conceptions of truth and knowledge have become orthodoxy in vast stretches of the academic world in recent times. Boghossian focuses on three different ways of reading the claim that knowledge is socially constructed--one as a thesis about truth and two about justification.
And he rejects all three. The intuitive, common-sense view is that there is a way the world is that is independent of human opinion; and that we are capable of arriving at beliefs about how it is that are objectively reasonable, binding on anyone capable of appreciating the relevant evidence regardless of their social or cultural perspective. Difficult as these notions may be, it is a mistake to think that philosophy has uncovered powerful reasons for rejecting them.
This short, lucid, witty book shows that philosophy provides rock-solid support for common sense against the relativists. It will prove provocative reading throughout the discipline and beyond. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Fear of Knowledge , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. May 10, Lane Wilkinson rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy , postmodernism. Let's be clear For what its worth, over the past decade, postmodern constructivism has been reasonably confined within English and Interdisciplinary Studies departments where it can do no harm other than perpetuate the myth of the irrelevance of liberal arts programs, but that's another issue.
What Boghossian presents is a well-timed argument against the spectre of constructivism in traditional philosophic studies. Philosophy, as a field o Let's be clear Philosophy, as a field of study, has largely avoided the relentless onslaught of relativistic thinking; unlike some other areas in the humanities, philosophy has resisted such passing, cyclical intellectual fads.
Yet, there have been attempted breaches by constructivist theories, and it is to the proponents of such theories that this book is directed. In particular, Boghossian directs his attention at analytic philosophers such as Nelson Goodman or Hilary Putnam: both well-respected titans within their fields. Yet, these thinkers along with Boghossian's other whipping boy, Richard Rorty, who I can only guess is included as a rhetorical straw man are not typical po-mo targets.
Forget your Koertge-style surveys of unintellectual intellectuals like Derrida, Irigaray, or Kristeva From arguments agains moral expressivism and I am a quasi-realist to category mistakes that arise when conflating Millean and Fregean conceptions of propositional content, Boghossian avoids the politicizing, rhetorical flourishes, and wolf-crying of other diatribes against relativism. In sum, this is a book by a philosopher, about philosophy, and written for those who wish to take the philosophical high-road against the inanity of constructivism.
To summarize Boghossian, I don't care if you want to make Hamlet a bi-univocal, ethno-hermeneutic discourse on Zuni nationalism, just stay the hell away from we philosophers and our respect for reality.
This books is part of the recent wave of anti-relativist, anti-constructivist, anti-pomo works by philosophers aimed at a general audience. Boghossian's contribution is the most austerely philosophical, focusing on raw argument rather than diagnosis or explaining the motivations for relativism or constructivism. That makes the book wonderfully sho This books is part of the recent wave of anti-relativist, anti-constructivist, anti-pomo works by philosophers aimed at a general audience.
That makes the book wonderfully short you can easily read it on a flight from coast to coast and the arguments punchy. But it also means that explanation of the title issue, the "fear of knowledge", gets confined to three page epilogue, and isn't very compelling.
Why is relativism, even the most implausible, factual variety, so weirdly compelling? Boghossian says that relativism is the dominant outlook in all academic disciplines except philosophy, but I think it has a significant, if shadowy, following throughout philosophy.
Radical contextualists in the philosophy of language adhere to some mildly concealed form of relativism about facts. According to Boghossian, the explanation for the appeal of relativism is mainly just confusion and belief in bad arguments. That hardly seems adequate. I do like Boghossian's improved argument against relativism about truth. The traditional argument is that the relativist faces a dilemma: either the claim that the truth of all claims is relative to some point of view is itself relative to some point of view, or it's not.
If it's not, then the relativist has an inconsistent view. If it is, then there's nothing to recommend the relativist's view over the view that not all claims are relative to some point of view. Boghossian's version of the argument generates a regress for the relativist who embraces the second horn, and then claims that the regress is vicious--no one could grasp the content of any claim if relativism were true.
But I don't see why grasping the content of a claim requires grasping the content of the claim that the first claim is relative to some point of view.
If the relativist insists that that's not required, then the regress doesn't mean that the truth of relativism makes it impossible to grasp the content of any claims. Jan 11, Kristopher rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy-texts.
I wish that I could give this a 3. It's clear, and really pretty fair. I would use parts of it in the introductory section to my intro to philosophy class just to help motivate what I take to be basic assumptions that are central to analytic philosophy. That said, even though I'm wholly on board with his conclusions, I think that the arguments go pretty quickly, and so if one were committed to a social constructivist position, and was so committed in a sophisticated way, I don't think they wou I wish that I could give this a 3.
That said, even though I'm wholly on board with his conclusions, I think that the arguments go pretty quickly, and so if one were committed to a social constructivist position, and was so committed in a sophisticated way, I don't think they would be swayed. For intro students or the unthinking relativists in your life, this is a fine work. View 2 comments. Aug 21, Siu Hong rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosophy. Clear and rigorous critique on Rorty's relativism and Kuhn's theory of paradigm change in science.
A very enjoyable reading experience. Feb 05, Justin Rock rated it it was ok Shelves: philosophy , library. I wish I could give this book two ratings. Ultimately, I decided to rate it from my subjective situation, ironically. Boghossian does a fantastic job laying out the position of the constructivism and relativism epistemic, moral, etc. The problem with this book, which is unfortunately not unique to this book, is the reductionist tendencies of I wish I could give this book two ratings.
The problem with this book, which is unfortunately not unique to this book, is the reductionist tendencies of the analytic tradition, which Boghossian seems completely unaware of throughout the book. Overall, this book is a great introductory book for freshman college students or people just venturing into issues of epistemology, rationality and relativism.
For those engaged in this debate already, this book adds very little. Jan 24, Roxanne Russell rated it really liked it Shelves: edu , non-fiction , humanities. I encourage any dissertation mentees to read this who plan to use social construction as a theoretical framework. It's important to understand counterviews and consider those views when designing research.
I don't think Boghossian's approach considers contextual dynamics enough to be as useful for educational researchers as other approaches, but his dissent is an important consideration.
His common sense approach is accessible enough for researchers to question themselves and struggle with the pi I encourage any dissertation mentees to read this who plan to use social construction as a theoretical framework. His common sense approach is accessible enough for researchers to question themselves and struggle with the pitfalls of relativism before fully embracing it. Mar 03, Alex Birchall rated it really liked it. Relativism is the quaint belief that there are no truths in the world, only 'understandings' from either different individual or cultural points of view.
Different groups have different epistemic frames and all should be respected. It is an argument of what Meera Nanda describes as 'epistemic charity. Boghossian aims to interrogate its central claims as well as its partner claim that knowledge is 'socially constructed' - i.
Brilliant rejoinders to relativism have been advanced by sociologists of education such as Rob Moore. The simplest is that relativism is self-refuting - the claim 'there are no truths' is itself a claim to truth. It is a claim to radical particularism that disposes of its own particularity.
Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism
Relativist and constructivist conceptions of knowledge have become orthodoxy in vast stretches of the academic world in recent times. This book critically examines such views and argues that they are fundamentally flawed. The book focuses on three different ways of reading the claim that knowledge is socially constructed, one about facts and two about justification. All three are rejected. The intuitive, common sense view is that there is a way things are that is independent of human opinion, and that we are capable of arriving at belief about how things are that is objectively reasonable, and The intuitive, common sense view is that there is a way things are that is independent of human opinion, and that we are capable of arriving at belief about how things are that is objectively reasonable, and is binding on anyone capable of appreciating the relevant evidence, regardless of their social or cultural perspective.
Fear of Knowledge
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.