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Agnosticism: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0199575268
ISBN-10: 0199575266
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About the Author


Robin Le Poidevin is Professor Metaphysics at Leeds University. In 2007 he gave the Stanton Lectures in the Philosophy of Religion at Cambridge.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199575266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199575268
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.2 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on November 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Agnosticism seems to have been on the rise in recent years. More and more people seem to feel equally uncomfortable with the tenants of an organized religion as they are with the increasingly more vocal and obstreperous atheism. On the other hand, many theist and atheist critics consider agnosticism to be an easy way out of the debate, even calling agnostics intellectually lazy. To be sure, there are many people who call themselves agnostic precisely because they could not be bothered to engage in any form of contemplation about religion. However, agnosticism as an intellectual position is much more sophisticated than that and it has a long and respectable history.

The aim of this short introduction is primarily to focus on the ideas behind agnosticism, and not so much on its historical and cultural aspects. If you appreciate thinking about ideas in their own right and if you value well thought out arguments then you will find a lot to be pleased with in this book. The tone of presentation is extremely measured and polished, and even some of the thorniest issues in the religious debates are handled with the utmost grace and aplomb. One of the main theses of the book is that agnosticism is actually compatible with both theism and atheism, and even the most ardent believer or unbeliever is in fact agnostic about certain aspects of the ultimate reality. To be anything short of that would amount to the utmost intellectual arrogance.

This is an incredibly well argued and well written book and anyone who has any interest in religious topics (regardless of their personal views) would greatly benefit from reading it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brian J. Hendricks on August 22, 2012
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Wow! Robin Le Poidevin has done anyone that decides to pick up this book a favor. It is concise (118 small pages) but when you finish reading it, you will feel as if you have read a much larger book or a couple of books. His prose is accessible and extremely thought provoking.

I purchased the book on a whim as part of the bundle of Atheism, Humanism, (and Agnosticism) in the Very Short Introduction Series and thought that this would be the worst and least engaging of the three (my apologies). This is anything but true.

In fact, it was the most rewarding and thought provoking. It seems that today, most people are either theistic or atheistic in their beliefs and view persons that appeal to the agnostic approach to life as not wanting to take a side between these two views. This is really where the beauty of Le Poidevin's text shines.

He makes the reader aware, almost immediately, that this way of thinking is really nothing more than a straw-man approach to those that define themselves as being agnostic. It turns out that agnosticism and agnostics in the mold of Le Poidevin (or perhaps all agnostics?) may have actually thought out their points of view with a greater level of sobriety than most theists and atheists have.
He lays out the evidence for agnosticism in such an objective manner that one will find themselves having to delve deeply into what their own thoughts truly are. (Perhaps you are more of an agnostic than you realize?)

This is a great little book. It has definitely broke my own dogmatic approach toward agnosticism.

An exceptional book that explained and defined and approach to life that previously seemed to have only a minor ounce of integrity that I now have come to realize was anything but true. All this thanks to Robin Le Poidevin and the A Very Short Introduction series!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jchilds on November 18, 2014
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"Agnosticism: A Very Short Introduction" is an excellent starting point for those who have little to no knowledge of what Agnosticism is all about. In this concise book, Prof. Robin Le Poidevin provides a well-rounded view of Agnosticism, as well as a brief cursory glance at its history, and explains how Agnosticism, as a position in the argument over whether or not God exists, is not merely a "spineless" and indecisive compromise between Atheists and Theists (on a sliding scale), but a formidable position (not on a sliding scale) that considers the pros and cons of the arguments for belief or disbelief from both sides, as well as its own, and makes no conclusive or compulsory claims where the evidence obviously demands further investigation. He also puts forward reasonable arguments that show the plausibility of a conclusion that stands in favor of a particular claim about the existence of God then contrasts it with the plausibility of a conclusion that stands in opposition to a particular claim about the existence of God, while leaving it open-ended for the reader to consider, by further investigation, then arrive at their own conclusions, even if those conclusions are themselves open-ended.

An excellent book and a great place to begin a journey in gaining an unbiased and unskewed understanding of Agnosticism.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John F. Valo on September 4, 2014
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"I do not deny. I do not know-but I do not believe." - Robert Ingersoll

Robert Ingersoll was a master orator in an age when people paid to be entertained by speakers. Why I Am an Agnostic is not an intellectual treatise. It is written as if it were a lecture designed to entertain a paying audience for two hours. Judged on those terms, this little book is an entertaining read.
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