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Agnosticism: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199575268
ISBN-10: 0199575266
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Editorial Reviews

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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brian J. Hendricks on August 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"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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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a densely written, concentrated set of chapters by a British professor of metaphysics, reading like a series of lectures. Robin Le Poidevin balances theist and atheist perspectives as expected, while claiming ground for agnosticism as a respected and defensible perspective, rather than the one despised by some non-believers and dismissed as waffling by many believers. He reasons calmly and doggedly, in a philosophical tone. For me, some of this material was compressed too much, but I cannot be too harsh on the constraints, after all, of these erudite primers.

Yes, Bertrand Russell's teapot is here, and Carl Sagan's dragon, and from these, after a brisk introduction to the history of the concept, the author delves into the presumption of atheism if God's existence remains unproven. Then, he examines positive arguments for agnosticism, or whether it's based on a mistake. Faith, morals, and scientific theory follow, to see if these rest on grounds compatible with or conflicting with what may be false conceptions of agnosticism. Can you live religiously while remaining agnostic? Should schools teach agnosticism? What about religions: do these come across best when taught from an agnostic perspective? You get Pascal's Wager handled deftly, and you also get a nod to zombies.

All these topics gain some attention in 150-odd pages. I found this stimulating, and one part helps me in discussing the existence of evil with students. Le Poidevin wonders as to the "superfluity" of evil in nature, not only human but in the physical realm, if this might be an answer, from a believer's point-of-view, in why bad things exist in nature beyond the fault of what can be blamed on human action or inaction.
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