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Man is the Measure (Cordial Invitation to the Central Problems of Philosophy) Paperback – April 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0684836362 ISBN-10: 068483636X
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Product Details

  • Series: Cordial Invitation to the Central Problems of Philosophy
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (April 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068483636X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684836362
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.9 out of 5 stars
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey on January 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Abel has created a superb introduction to the often esoteric topic of Philosophy in "Man is the Measure". I am a student in the International Baccalaureate Program at a high school in Arizona where this is the core book for our learning the Theory of Knowledge. After reading this book I can seriously say that my grasp of the "Central Problems of Philosophy" has been broadened to actual understanding and appreciation. The author is able to convey his message in a conversational way that doesn't come across as overly instructional. The main points are set off from the prose of the text and are thoroughly outlined which allow the reader to comprehend what is being said. Reoccurring concepts are tied in throughout the book as well. This book is recommended for any student of philosophy or anyone who has always pondered the questions of the universe. Abel has truly made Philosophy inviting.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Butch on December 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
Mr. Abel was a humanist that traced his lineage of thought from the English pragmatic humanist F.C.S. Schiller to the Greek Sophist Protagoras (420-490 BCE) and beyond. "Man is the measure of all things: of those that are, that they are; and of those that are not, that they are not." Protagoras' notion that judgements and knowledge are in some way relative to the individual. This is a line of agnostic thinkers that put man at the center of the stage. They claim no absolute knowledge. This last claim Socrates did one better by not claiming any knowledge at all. Socrates is the first of the great Humanists in the West, and Confucius was the first great Humanist in the East. Humanists are proud to be human beings. Humanists' two fundamental tenets are that a man should learn to think for himself, and values are uniquely human--man is the measure. Though a little too manthropocentric an approach to our specie's place in the Cosmos for my liking Abel nevertheless does manage to make me feel good about being human. I matter. Abel's pride does not seem to me to be the false pride of hubris. Rather he seems a very dignified human being that represents us well. I am sorry ladies, but you will just have to keep being patient with us men. I assure you when Abel says man he means mankind, men and women.

With the above said Abel's "Man is the Measure" is a cordial invitation from a humanist perspective addressed to all human beings in regards to the central problems of philosophy. He believes in humanity, in our capacity to grow. The one and the many are invited to join in the philosophical debates. "Man is the Measure" is written with a friendly tone and in an elegantly simple manner. It is a very thorough outline of philosophical history, and you may join in if you like. Abel is to be congratulated for his ecumenical approach to truth. This is a very good place for those with a curious mind to begin or continue their examined life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard Levi on December 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is unique by combining a deep respect for stringent analysis and the striving for useful knowledge in all of man's intellectual endeavours, philosophy included. Being a neurologist myself, I have been suprised by the apparent lack of understanding in other works of philosophy of the obvious fact that we, as beings in and of this world, cannot start without a view for somewhere. And that somewhere is - ourselves, from the perspective of an organism with limited perceptual and cognitive capacities. So Abel is totally correct in making this his fundament. That is not to say, however, that truth and everything else is "relative" in the postmodern sense, only that we are doomed to grasp the world from the inside looking out. For an amateur philosopher like myself, Abel's book ranks among the top introductory texts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adam Rourke author of The Goblin Universe on March 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Metaphysics is a specialized branch of philosophy that tries to understand the world that we live in by dealing with first principles. It does this, not by examining the details of how the world is constructed, but rather by analyzing the concepts that we use to create the world in the first place. One of the most basic needs human beings have is the need to organize experiences into an understandable framework that allows them to function in an effective manner. Metaphysics try to supply this framework.

Beginning with Pythagoras and Aristotle and working his way up to his own time (the book was written in 1976) Reuben Abel does a fine job of discussing the major problems that metaphysicians have argued about and fought over for the last three thousand years. In accomplishing this the book gives a good general overview of the history of metaphysics. But that is not the book's purpose. What the book is trying to do is to show you not only what metaphysics has discovered but also how it works. It shows the reasoning that lies behind our present understanding of metaphysical questions and what insights this gives.

Philosophical works are common but works of pure metaphysics are rare enough to be of interest for their own sake. It is good, occasionally, to throw off the shackles of reductionism and to grapple with the whole of reality. Using man as the center around which the arguments swirl Reuben Abel shows how metaphysicians have tried to understand the world in order to better the lives of the people inhabiting it.

Be warned however that when you enter the world of the metaphysical it is easy to become glassy eyed by all of the endless arguments over the meaning of words and of the competing points of logic.
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