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Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a book on logic, the necessary precondition for all rational discourse. Logic is real and you can wrap your head around it!
If you are frustrated by fuzzy and often contradictory claims for truth in philosophy (and the world at large), take heart. As SO demonstrates, there are universal, objective truths that form the basis for all productive inquiry. These are knowable truths, and this book cuts through the clutter to get down to them. They are few, but they are the root of all other truth.
Truths like the law of identity may seem trivial and self-evident at first glance, but when you begin to unpack many of the common claims in every discipline, you'll discover they are often ignored or wished away.
Despite the importance of the subject matter, this book is slim, efficient, and concise. It reads with ease.
My personal favorite passage is an analogy I'm going to come back to from now on. The relationship between theory and data is described beautifully in terms of the game of poker. This passage, like the rest of the book, demonstrates Patterson's ability to take seemingly overwhelming subject matter and distill it into something that makes sense and is fun to read.
Pick up a copy. Lay the foundations for clear thought.
Square One is different. This book was recommended to me by a colleague, and it sparked a deep dive into philosophy--REAL philosophy. I love how it outlines a *way of thinking for yourself* and not just a specific argument that was of historical significance. I highly recommend reading it if you're getting into philosophy and want to shape your first-principles.
So I was very excited to read his book on the very topic of my disagreement. The book does not disappoint. No, it did not cause me to change my views, but just as with his podcast, I could not help but become engaged with his enthusiastic rigor, and again with his earnestness for intellectual honesty. The reader is very much rewarded by an author willing to put his views out for debate and scrutiny - this is the "Pursuit" of Steve's of which I am a huge fan.
In terms of substance, Steve is a self-declared Foundationalist, while I would describe myself as an Anti-Foundationalist, so common ground might seem unavailable. He states his ambitious goal as follows, "We can know absolute, certain and, objective truths. These truths serve as the foundation for the rest of our knowledge." His central thesis is to establish that logical contradictions do not, nor can not, exist. He then inverts this to say that existence implies a lack of logical contradictions. He admits that this may seem like a tautology, but actually he does this ably and entertainingly so that there is much intellectual reward to be gained in following his arguments. By the way, he effectively deploys some anti-bewitchment analysis per Wittgenstein that helpfully develops his points. And so far I will grant him this, or said differently, the first part of his quoted goal is achieved. However, nowhere thereafter does he demonstrate that such truths serve as the foundation for the rest of our knowledge. Naturally, I would argue because he can't - it isn't achievable. Still, the rigor of his prior arguments provides a finely-honed tool for rooting out falsehood, though not for identifying "truth", let alone building a Foundational epistemology. Anti-Foundationalism seems alive and well to me, which I take to be a good thing. I take Patterson's Pursuits, and his book Square One, in the spirit of Popperian fallibilism, rather than as the systematic revelation of foundational "truth". It turns out that is more than enough for an enthusiastic recommendation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Patterson does a tremendous job of untangling common objections to logic and separating language games for truth about reality.Read more
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