The Measure of Things
Humanism, Humility and Mystery
By (author) David E. Cooper
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Measure of Things by David E. Cooper
Book DescriptionPhilosophers, both western and eastern, have long been divided between 'humanists', for whom 'man is the measure of things', and their opponents, who claim that there is a way, in principle knowable and describable, that the world anyway is, independent of human perspectives and interests. The early chapters of The Measure of Things chart the development of humanism from medieval times, through the Renaissance, Enlightenment and Romantic periods, to its most sophisticated, twentieth-century form, 'existential humanism'. Cooper does not identify this final position with that of any particular philosopher, though it is closely related to those of Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and the later Wittgenstein. Among the earlier figures discussed are William of Ockham, Kant, Herder, Nietzsche and William James. Having rejected attempts by contemporary advocates of modest or non-metaphysical realism to dissolve the opposition between humanism and its 'absolutist' rival, Cooper moves on to an adjudication of that rivality. Prompted by the pervasive rhetoric of hubris that the rivals direct against one another, he argues, in an original manner, that the rival positions are indeed guilty of lack of humility. Absolutists - whether defenders of 'The Given' or scientific realists - exaggerate our capacity to ascend out of our 'engaged' perspectives to an objective account of the world. Humanists, conversely, exaggerate our capacity to live without a sense of our subjection to a measure independent of our own perspectives. The only escape, Cooper maintains, from the impasse reached when humanism and absolutism are both rejected, lies in a doctrine of mystery. There is a reality independent of 'the human contribution', but it is necessarily ineffable. Drawing in a novel way upon the Buddhist conception of 'emptiness' and Heidegger's later writings, the final chapters defend the notion of mystery, distinguish the doctrine advanced from that of transcendental idealism, and propose that it is only through appreciation of mystery that measure and warrant may be provided for our beliefs and conduct.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780198238270
(242mm x 163mm x 25mm)
Imprint: Clarendon Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 24-Oct-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author David E. Cooper
Gardening, Paperback (September 2010)
Philosophy and gardens have been closely connected from the dawn of philosophy, with many drawing on their beauty and peace for philosophical inspiration. Gardens in turn give rise to a broad spectrum of philosophical questions. For the green-fingered thinker, this book reflects on a whole host of fascinating philosophical themes.
Philosophy, Paperback (August 2009)
Philosophy: The Classic Readings provides a comprehensive, single-volume collection of the major works of Eastern and Western philosophers from ancient to modern times. It offers an inclusive, single-volume collection of the greatest philosophical works that draws on both Eastern and Western philosophical traditions.
Philosophy of Gardens, Paperback (March 2008)» View all books by David E. Cooper
Why do gardens matter so much and mean so much to people? David Cooper identifies garden appreciation as a special human phenomenon distinct from both from the appreciation of art and the appreciation of nature. Anyone with a reflective interest in things horticultural will find this book fascinating reading.
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