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Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous (Contours of Christian Philosophy) Paperback – October 9, 1998

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

W. Jay Wood (Ph.D., Notre Dame) is professor in the philosophy department at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.
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Product Details

  • Series: Contours of Christian Philosophy
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; 59275th edition (October 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877845220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877845225
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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A seminary professor recommended this book to me as a good introduction to the field of epistemology. I have a background in apologetics, but limited exposure to philosophy. This book by Wood delivers the philosophical subject of epistemology in a way I think serious lay students can grasp and enjoy, especially those interested in Christian philosophy.

Throughout the book, Wood makes it clear he is trying to re-establish some historic ground with an epistemology emphasizing intellectual virtue (as opposed to intellectual vice). Patterns of intellectual virtue like being truthful, teachable, inquisitive and observant are contrasted with intellectual vices like willful ignorance, obtuseness and vicious curiosity (e.g. an insatiable quest for information irrespective of personal or environmental harm). Personal motives and similar deeper spiritual/psychological factors are explored as being drivers of whether a particular intellectual attribute is a virtue or a vice. Wood does not claim individual credit for this insight and traces its origins to ancient authors like Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas (p17). "A motif of this book [is] that study of some of the traditional concerns of epistemology illuminate powerfully on our understanding of certain intellectual virtues, and vice versa. The old and the new thus compliment one another" (p76).

Much of the book involves a comparison of foundationalism and coherentism as two main schools of epistemology. Internalism, externalism and justification also get plenty of discussion and I needed all of this. Since I'm not well schooled in epistemology at this time, I won't try to critique the subtle ins and outs of his thought, but I found all of it useful.
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Format: Paperback
Epistemology was an assigned read for a master's level course. After scanning the text, I became concerned that this was going to be a boring and difficult read. This was not the case. The topic is actually very relatable to daily life and very interesting. I highly recommend Epistemology for anyone interested in learning more about what we believe and how we come to form those opinions.(Christian based)
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Format: Paperback
Jay Wood has done us a great service: he's written a book to help us think, and feel, more clearly. His book is a fine introduction to a complex field of philosophy. His clear writing, abundant use of illustrations from daily life and the great works of fiction, make the book more accessible than any other book on epistomology I've read (but make no mistake, no book on the topic is going to be a breeze). I was most enthusiastic about his (successful) attempt to help me understand the crucial role of emotions in how I come to know whether something is true or not.
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This book is aimed at undergraduates, but it offers an important and innovativce perspective that would interest many others. Epistemologists are usually concerned with the conditions that justify believing something is true. Wood asks a different, perhaps even more interesting question: what qualities would a person have to have in order to function successfully as a knower throughout life? Following Aristotle, these could be called "intellectual virtues"--qualities of mind that enhance our performance as knowers. This approach not only identifies a fresh set of important issues in the philosophical reflection on knowing but pave the way to consider other important topics, such as the relation of emotions to knowing and the relation of knowing to religious faith. Wood does not neglect traditional questions and includes a useful survey of the basic epistemological theories. But the interest of his book is that he sets those issues in a wider context that reconnects epistemology to ethics in a very interesting and thought-provoking way.
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Format: Paperback
For those seeking to integrate Christian moral virtues with intellectual virtues this is a must read. Wood argues that the virtuous life leads to our ability to lead excellent lives. This is acomplished in us by persuing intellectual virtue and its habits (intellectual honesty, love for truth, etc) along side the quest for moral virtues at the same time. Wood argues that "According to the Christian tradition, to forge virtuous habits of moral and intellectual character is part of what is required for us to grow to teh full stature of all that God intends for humans to be." (p. 19)
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Reading this book was an enjoyable and informative experience. The author seeks to discuss how intellectual virtues, morality, and emotions contribute to us obtaining knowledge. The book is essentially a case for virtue epistemology that discusses epistemic issues in ways that are relevant to his overarching argument: we can obtain knowledge when our faculties are functioning properly, and they will only function properly when we cultivate the intellectual virtues. I read this book under the impression that it was a general introduction to epistemology, but it is not. As I have said, the book is a case for virtue epistemology, specifically from a Christian perspective.
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Format: Paperback
This relatively compact volume offers everything one could want from an introductory text on epistemology. Wood highlights the importance of exploring how we think and process intellectual propositions, surveys the major schools of thought, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each and offers his own views throughout. While the language of this book is sometimes quite technical, for the most part it maintains a readable style. This will be a satisfactory treatment for those with a casual interest in the subject; for those with a deeper interest it will lay a solid foundation for further reading (along these lines, Wood includes an extensive bibliogprahy for additional resources). Highly recommended as a beginning point for epistemological studies.
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