In defending the idea of honest inquiry, Susan Haack takes on the usual suspects: cognitive relativists, radical feminists, multiculturalists, self-styled neopragmatists such as Richard Rorty, sociologists of science, literary theorists--"a great revolutionary chorus announcing that disinterested inquiry is impossible, that all supposed 'knowledge' is an expression of power, that the concepts of evidence, objectivity, truth are ideological humbug." Although some readers will inevitably be reminded of works such as Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt's Higher Superstition
, Haack's Manifesto
stands out because of its distinctively philosophical orientation. The chief villains--Richard Rorty, Sandra Harding--are philosophers, as is the tutelary deity of Haack's enterprise, C.S. Peirce. Particularly worthwhile is "'We Pragmatists...': Peirce and Rorty in Conversation." Constructed from passages from the two philosophers and the occasional intervention by Haack herself, this dramatic dialogue painlessly illuminates not only the surface similarities of Peirce's pragmatism and Rorty's neopragmatism but also their profound disagreements. Also included are interesting but somewhat tangential essays on metaphor's role in science, affirmative action, and the future of the academy.
Although Haack is known in philosophical circles for her work in the forbiddingly technical areas of epistemology and the philosophy of logic, the 11 essays contained in her Manifesto are forthright, clear, and laced with pleasingly wry humor. (It is not every professor who would give an essay the title "Confessions of an Old-Fashioned Prig.") Regrettably, she shares the fondness of her philosophical hero Peirce for ugly neologisms: "preposterism" and "foundherentism" are two of hers. --Glenn Branch
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From Library Journal
Haack (philosophy, Univ. of Miami; Deviant Logic, Fuzzy Logic: Beyond the Formalism, LJ 10/1/96) offers 11 essays that neatly demonstrate the multilayered truth of this collection's title. In a cleverly worded dialog between Charles Peirce and Richard Rorty, in a blistering strip search of the variant meanings and intentions behind "multiculturalism," and in several examinations of what it means to be a feminist as well as a female academic, Haack writes for an audience that shares her patience with ideas that run contrary to clearly felt personal opinion. Known for her critical research into the nature of inquiry and logic, Haack puts a welcome British spin on the very American school of pragmatism. Affordable and accessible, this collection belongs in both academic and public libraries where educated browsers will enjoy disagreeingAas well as admitting agreementAwith the author.AFrancisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., CA
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