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Plato's Sun

Plato's Sun: An Introduction to Philosophy

Andrew Lawless
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 290
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  • Book Info
    Plato's Sun
    Book Description:

    InPlato's Sun, Andrew Lawless takes on the challenge of creating an introductory text for philosophy, arguing that such a work has to take into account of the strangeness of the field and divulge it, rather than suppress it beneath traditional certainties and authoritative pronouncements.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2779-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. 1 What Is Philosophy?
    (pp. 3-22)

    Philosophy as we know it in the West was born in ancient Greece in the early sixth century BCE. It began in the island cities of Ionia, whence it spread to the western reaches of the Greek world, to what are now southern Italy and Sicily, before taking root in mainland Greece and the great city of Athens. As the German philosopher Martin Heidegger once said, ‘The wordphilosophiaappears, as it were, on the birth certificate of [western] history.’ For over a millennium, spanning the Classical and Hellenistic eras and the rise, ascendancy, and decline of Rome, philosophy was...

  6. 2 Metaphysics: The Search for the God’s-Eye View
    (pp. 23-64)

    Depending on which authority one consults nowadays, metaphysics – the study of the general conditions and nature of reality – is either the best or the worst of philosophy, the life blood of the discipline or the virus that is killing it. In either case, metaphysics is undeniably one of the most – if notthemost – fundamental of philosophical concerns. As the American philosopher Hilary Putnam has argued, ‘every philosophical program touches on deep metaphysical waters.’¹ Furthermore, insofar as every philosophical program is – by definition? – dogmatic, we can add that every sceptical philosopher looks to disperse those waters. The result, as one...

  7. 3 Wittgenstein’s Ladder: The Modern Reaction to Metaphysics
    (pp. 65-92)

    If Kant paved the way for a reaction to metaphysics, that was almost certainly not his intention. Kant’s work is a paradigm of metaphysical subtlety in which the ‘real’ empirical world is framed by a transcendental method that can account for our experience of that world. But like all great philosophers, Kant also forces us to consider a sceptical response to what he has done. He raises – however implicitly – the question of whether we can really aspire to the kind of knowledge of a mind-independent world that a strict metaphysical realism demands. His work thus pulls the reader in opposite...

  8. 4 Epistemology: The Ghost in the Metaphysical Machine?
    (pp. 93-135)

    As I prepare to move this tour of the philosophical terrain from the quicksands of metaphysics to what I hope will be the more solid ground of epistemology – the theory of knowledge – I am brought up short by the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor’s somewhat dour comment that ‘epistemology, once the pride of modern philosophy, seems in a bad way these days.’¹ I think, ‘Oh no, here we go again, here is yet another central concern of philosophy riven by discord.’ And, indeed, it is. How could I have forgotten? Epistemology is also uncertain ground. The uncertainty concerns not just methods...

  9. 5 Logic and Its Place in the Universe
    (pp. 136-167)

    We may as well let the next domino fall. The anti-metaphysical, naturalist, and neo-sceptic trends running through contemporary philosophy cannot be without implications for logic, which I shall define as the formal expression of thelogosthat has long sat at the heart of the discipline. For, if as I argued in Chapter 2, logic fuels the metaphysical impulse, and if that impulse, the desire to see – behind appearances – a clear, coherent, and objective reality, fuels foundationalist epistemologies, then all that I have been saying so far must circle back to logic. The question put to it is this: What...

  10. 6 Ethics: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful
    (pp. 168-202)

    A Peripatetic philosopher¹ by the name of Aristocles famously said that Plato divided philosophy into three parts: physics (metaphysics, really), logic and ethics. With this chapter, and granting that epistemology is strongly rooted in metaphysics, I can, perhaps, claim that this book is, in basic outline, true to that observation. This is not a bad thing for a work in which the great philosopher’s cave image has been so central. Yet, I am somewhat reluctant to make the claim, because I am uncertain how well I can accommodate ethics to its companions, logic and metaphysics. In contemporary philosophy, it often...

  11. 7 Philosophy and Language: The House of Being
    (pp. 203-246)

    The reader who has arrived at this point will be aware that philosophy is intimately concerned with issues of language. As the American philosopher Robert Brandom has said, ‘the 20thcentury has been the century of language in philosophical thought.’¹ The reader will, in fact, be forgiven for wondering whether philosophy is concerned with anything but language. If this is her suspicion, it may help her to know that philosophy has indeed been much affected by what is known as the ‘linguistic turn’ of the twentieth century and that this book has been very much influenced by it. (Perhaps it...

  12. APPENDIX 1 The Twelve-Coin Puzzle and the Paradox of the Heap
    (pp. 247-250)
  13. APPENDIX 2 Ethics and the ‘Other’
    (pp. 251-254)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 255-302)
  15. Glossary of Names
    (pp. 303-320)
  16. Glossary of Key Terms
    (pp. 321-340)
  17. Glossary of Greek Terms
    (pp. 341-342)
  18. Suggested Readings
    (pp. 343-350)
  19. Index
    (pp. 351-364)