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The Threefold Cord: Mind, Body and World

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0231102872
ISBN-10: 0231102879
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Editorial Reviews

Review

[A] combination of intellectual enthusiasm and dialectical ingenuity... [this] new book... defends a kind of common sense realism. The lectures that are collected in this volume... are philosopher's philosophy.

(The New Republic)

From the Back Cover

"One of the most exciting of contemporary philosophers" (Times Literary Supplement) illuminates and reconfigures a perennially intriguing problem: the relationship between our perceptions and reality. Putnam first examines the problem of realism: Is objective truth possible? He acknowledges the deep impasse between empirical and idealist approaches to this question, critiquing them both, however, by highlighting the false assumption they share -- that we cannot perceive the world directly. Drawing on the work of J. L. Austin and William James, Putnam develops a subtle and creative alternative, which he calls "natural realism".

The second part of the book explores the mind-body question: Is the mind independent of our interactions with the physical world? Again, Putnam critically assesses two sharply antithetical contemporary approaches and finds them both lacking. The Threefold Cord shows the entire mind-body debate to be miscast and draws on the later work of Wittgenstein, once more advancing original views on perception and thought and their relationship with both the body and the external world. Finally, Putnam takes up two related problems -- the role of causality in human behavior and whether or not thoughts and sensations have an "existence" all their own.

With Putnam's lucid prose and insightful examples, The Threefold Cord loosens the Gordian knot into which philosophy has bound itself over the issue of epistemology.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (March 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231102879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231102872
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,663,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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In this book Putnam evaluates philosophical points of view (physicalism, behaviorism, and computation to name a few) as they relate to consciousness. The work is not a complete theory of consciousness, but intended to penetrate some related and oppositional theories so that reactionary trends can be separated from useful ideas.

First part - Toward an idea of perception that is neither completely true and different for everyone, nor completely false (compared to actual objects).
Second part - Putnam may be leaning toward language theories and against physicalism, on the subject of mind and body.
Third part - He finds problems with the dichotomy that mental events are either just brain states or without causal power.

Do these three sections represent the mind, body, and world as is suggested by the title of the book? Not really.
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