Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism

3.9 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199287185
ISBN-10: 019928718X
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used
$13.25
Condition: Used - Good
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Book is in good condition. Book has been read but not abused. Notes and underlining throughout the book. Name written on the inside of the front cover.
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
40 Used from $2.89
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
More Buying Choices
15 New from $20.56 40 Used from $2.89

There is a newer edition of this item:

Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

Review


"The book offers a sustained critique of a particular, postmodern-flavored, Rorty-inspired version of relativism/constructivism. That critique is powerful and on the whole highly effective."--Nortre Dame Philosophical Review


"Lucid and effective...For those prepared to follow its careful and sensible arguments, Fear of Knowledge should be a welcome addition to the literature."--Simon Blackburn, Times Literary Supplement


"This is a book that can be read in an afternoon and thought about for a lifetime."--Wall Street Journal


"His analysis is something of a tour de force: subtle and original enough to attract the attention of professional philosophers but accessible enough to be read by anyone with an interest in the subject. The result is one of the most readable works in philosophy in recent years."--Wall Street Journal


About the Author


Paul Boghossian is Silver Professor of Philosophy at New York University.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019928718X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199287185
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.6 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,140,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been waiting for a book like this - one that would clearly expose the shortcomings of relativism. Boghossian does just that, demonstrating the person claiming 'everything is relative' faces a predicament. Either the statement itself is true, and thereby defeating the statement. Or it's relative to the individual, which means the person holding an objectivist view point is just as correct as the relativist. And therefore it's a meaningless statement. These are the kinds of points Boghossian makes through the book, both with generosity and clarity.

While this is essentially a philosophy book, he presents his ideas in a very accessible way. As a result, his case is compelling and persuasive. As William Ewald said, this is a book that can be read in an afternoon and thought about for a lifetime - a reference to the book's brevity (at 139 pages) and it's depth.

At the same time, I wish Boghossian had asked questions about why humanity fears knowledge. Namely, what is it about the human condition which causes people to avoid making clear distinctions reflected in strong assertions about the way things are? Why is there an assumption that conviction and belief are the equivalents of arrogance and intolerance? What is it about knowledge which threatens people?

With that said, this is a very thoughtful book and one which will hopefully have a real impact, not just in the academy, but also in the public square. If relativism reigns then dialog and discourse are severely hampered. May this book contribute to keeping those flames alive in the Western World.
Comment 97 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This concise and well done book is devoted to rebutting relativistic anti-realist arguments that are apparently popular in some areas of the modern academy. I think Boghossian has a specific audience in mind. This book is not aimed primarily at his fellow philosophers nor the general reading public but rather at academics in humanities and social sciences where the relativist ideas have become popular. Boghossion points out that there is a widespread impression that modern analytic philosophy has undermined realist views and this impression provides legitimacy for the relativist points of view. As Boghossian also points out, these relativist views have actually been relatively unsuccessful in Philosophy Depts. and there are considerable doubts about their validity. Boghossian aims at presenting a fair characterization of relativist views and then providing an up to date critical attack. The philosopher Richard Rorty is a particular target, partly because of his prominence and partly because Boghossian regards him as expounding some of the most powerful relativist arguments. Boghossian examines relativist claims in three domains. These are relativism regarding the existence of 'facts," that is, a mind independent world, relativism concerning justification of knowledge (probably the strongest relativist argument and one articulated by Rorty), and relativism concerning rational explanation. The attack on relativism concerning rational explanation is the shortest and least satisfactory section, though still effective. I think he is generally fair to all these arguments and resists constructing straw man positions for his opponents. This criticisms of these positions are strong and he argues well for the general incoherence and incompleteness of relativist positions. If anything, I would say that he bends over backwards to be fair to relativist positions, omitting some strong arguments against Rorty and Thomas Kuhn.
1 Comment 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
This book is a well-written attack on certain anti-realist, relativistic and post modernist strains in our culture and acdemic philosophy. It is well written in the sense that it is clear and concise but my main issue against it is that it is a little too concise (more than it should be) because it almost entirely deals with naive forms of anti-realism. It is a good introduction to the topic but stronger arguments have been made in contemporary times which Boghossian does not deal with in this work. Much of the positions Boghossian destroys are from Richard Rorty, the early Hilary Putnam and some of Wittgenstein's more obscure writings. But the objections he raises against them are not new and stronger versions of those arguments along with different arguments altogether have been proposed to argue for certain positions Boghossian is against (sometimes by these very philosophers later in life). Rorty's views on the subjects in question are actually considered laughably impotent among most working philosophers today and are not given much attention for that reason as with almost all of the other post-modern criticisms of realism and truth absolutism.

Even though I am very sympathetic to Boghossian's ultimate position of arguing against anti-realist and relativistic strains within our culture and philosophy, Boghossian, as far as I'm aware, does not advance new arguments; some of his arguments have been around since Plato used them against the sophist Protagoras (or at least Plato's version of Protagoras). Boghossian also does not advance arguments against the most sophisticated versions of these strains of thought (especially against fact constructivism).
Read more ›
3 Comments 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews