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How We Know: Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation Paperback – May 23, 2015
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About the Author
Harry Binswanger earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University in 1973. He has taught philosophy at several universities, most recently at the University of Texas, Austin. An associate of Ayn Rand's in her final years, he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Ayn Rand Institute since 1986. He is the author of The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts and the editor of The Ayn Rand Lexicon and the expanded second edition of Ayn Rand’s Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Formerly a political columnist at Forbes Online, Dr. Binswanger is now a Senior Contributor at RealClearMarkets. His blog, "Value for Value," is at www.HBLetter.com.
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This is a book which any people interested in philosophy -be it a future intellectual, a college student seeking for answers or a philosopher with a PhD- should read.
The book is a tremendous accomplishment and whether you agree with everything or not you at least have to consider it. I found most of it compelling and convincing. The arguments on free will were interesting but not quite convincing to me, but otherwise is brilliant. Overall the book is magnificent and I highly recommend it.
Book Review “How We Know” by Harry Binswanger
By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.
“How We Know” by Harry Binswanger is a book on human epistemology from the perspective of the philosophy of Ayn Rand, known as Objectivism. Covering a wide scope of information on how the human mind works and how we use concepts to come to understand the world, Binswanger starts at the perceptually self evidence, through the axioms, through concept formation, through higher-level concepts, to propositions and generalizations, to logic, and to principles; including induction and deduction; with a special chapter on free will in man; and a philosophical overview of how various philosophical views regarding the human mind have effected the history of philosophical thought. One of the remarkable things about how the book is written is that it is fully objective. Objectivity consists of maintaining logic, context, and hierarchy. Logic is non-contradictory identification, context is insuring one keeps each bit of knowledge integrated with the rest of one's consciousness, and hierarchy means that some things have to be learned and understood before one can move on to issues related to but following from those previous thoughts. While the book is based on Objectivism and Ayn Rand's philosophy, one need not be familiar with Ayn Rand to be able to read it, since Binswanger gives many examples and demonstrations of the functioning of the human mind that even a beginner reader of philosophy can follow rather easily.
There is one drawback to the book, as far as I can tell; Binswanger does not discuss the role of good art in cognition. “How We Know” is a very comprehensive book on the topic, and it is very difficult to keep all of that information in mind. In the following review, I wrote a review of each chapter shortly after reading it, and I am finding it difficult to condense my review down to a page or two. So, what is needed to help keep a complicated topic in mind is a concretization of that topic, which is provided by good, objective art. One can say, in this context, that “How We Know” is like looking into the inner workings of the mind of an inductive Sherlock Holmes observing how his own mind works, and telling the rest of the world what he discovered.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to the reader who is interested in how we go about knowing the world.
I will give a brief overview of each chapter in the following review: