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Philosophical Papers: Volume One Hardcover – March 2, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0195155525 ISBN-10: 0195155521

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Editorial Reviews


"Unger has always been a very original and independent philosopher,.... Unger's earlier papers are classics partly because of their originality, and partly because they give concise expression to deep and difficult philosophical problems.... in an appealing style. Fortunately, Oxford University Press has recently reprinted Unger's papers in two useful volumes." --Tim Crane, Times Literary Supplement

"...these two volumes bring together some excellent papers by one of the greatest contemporary analytic philosophers.... Unger pulls it off with a style and a sense of humour that is inviting to professionals and laymen alike.... Given Unger's wide range of published interests, there is something (if not a few things) in this collection for everyone."--Neil E. Williams, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

About the Author

One of the world's most original and unorthodox philosophers, Peter Unger has been a major contributor to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of mind. A native New Yorker, for the past thirty years he has been a Professor of Philosophy at New York University.

More About the Author

I am was born and raised in the Bronx, NY, moving about twenty miles north months after becoming a teenager when, like most in the neighborhood whose father's did well financially, my dad hit pay dirt in the mid-50s. After graduating from Harrison High School in June of 1858, I went off the Swarthmore College, where I took tons of courses in both philosophy and in experimental psychology, graduating with a philosophy major in June 1962. From there I went to the University of Oxford, where I matriculated in October of 1962 and from which I received my D.Phil., in philosophy, 1n 1966.

From 1965 onward I have been a professional philosopher, whatever that may mean in 20th and 21st century America, with my first full faculty position starting at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in September, 1965 and teaching my last class there in June of 1971. During the academic year 1971-72, I visited at NYU, with the idea, on both sides, of my becoming a member of its regular faculty starting with the next academic year. During the visit, I received tenure at Madison, so from September 1972 through today I have been a tenured faculty member at NYU; since 1975 a tenured Full Professor of Philosophy.

I am, at heart, an extremely radical thinker and writer, often with a severely negative cast of mind usually advocating the most extreme views ever taken in each large subject area on which, all in philosophy, I write my books and shorter pieces.

My first book, Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism, OUP, 1975, exemplifies this clearly. Almost all of it in epistemology - or the so-called theory of knowledge - I advocate for the positions that 1) nobody ever knows anything and 2) nobody is even the least bit reasonable in believing anything (or, for that matter, caring about anything or doing anything and, read by hardly anyone, 3) that nothing is ever true (or, for that matter false, or untrue, either.

My most recent book is Empty Ideas: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy, OUP, 2014. In this work, I advocate the view that, at least in the core of mainstream philosophy - metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind and philosophy of language - during the last 80 years or so nothing novel has been offered that is worth paying attention to for more than a day or two - and, all put together, maybe less than a month, all told, to repeat the point emphatically. Nor do I hold that things have been much better with previous or alternative work in philosophy: Anything regarded by many as philosophy nowadays, just as much with Descartes and Hume as with Lewis and Kripke, is anything that a) has any import as to how things are with concrete reality - that is, with anything in space, or in time, or in space-time, and so on - and is both clearly NOT trivial and clearly more credible than its negation, or opposite, or denial. But, if there may come to be some excellent scientists who are also excellent at philosophy, whatever, exactly, the latter may mean, then there may be some realistic hope for some significant improvement on this matter.

For an academic, I am, I believe, quite an engaging writer, even if not one of the most engaging of them. But, of course, that means very little, as almost all academics don't write in a way that even comes close to gripping all but a very few outside of their particular discipline.

Finally, while I am far from being the sharpest knife in the draw, I am, at any given time, as honest a workman as I can be.

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