Truth and Truthfulness by Bernard Williams
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Truth and Truthfulness
By Bernard Williams

Truth and Truthfulness

An Essay in Genealogy

By (author) See other recent books by Bernard Williams
Format: Paperback

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Truth and Truthfulness by Bernard Williams

Book Awards

  • Commended for Association of American Publishers' Best New Book in Philosophy and Religion 2003.

Book Description

What does it mean to be truthful? What role does truth play in our lives? What do we lose if we reject truthfulness? No philosopher is better suited to answer these questions than Bernard Williams. Writing with his characteristic combination of passion and elegant simplicity, he explores the value of truth and finds it to be both less and more than we might imagine. Modern culture exhibits two attitudes toward truth: suspicion of being deceived (no one wants to be fooled) and skepticism that objective truth exists at all (no one wants to be naive). This tension between a demand for truthfulness and the doubt that there is any truth to be found is not an abstract paradox. It has political consequences and signals a danger that our intellectual activities, particularly in the humanities, may tear themselves to pieces. Williams's approach, in the tradition of Nietzsche's genealogy, blends philosophy, history, and a fictional account of how the human concern with truth might have arisen. Without denying that we should worry about the contingency of much that we take for granted, he defends truth as an intellectual objective and a cultural value. He identifies two basic virtues of truth, Accuracy and Sincerity, the first of which aims at finding out the truth and the second at telling it. He describes different psychological and social forms that these virtues have taken and asks what ideas can make best sense of them today. Truth and Truthfulness presents a powerful challenge to the fashionable belief that truth has no value, but equally to the traditional faith that its value guarantees itself. Bernard Williams shows us that when we lose a sense of the value of truth, we lose a lot both politically and personally, and may well lose everything.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780691117911
ISBN-10: 0691117918
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 19mm)
Pages: 344
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 2-Feb-2004
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...


Books By Author Bernard Williams

Obscenity and Film Censorship by Bernard Williams Obscenity and Film Censorship, Hardback (October 2015)

This book is an influential study of obscenity and film censorship centred on an application of Mill's 'harm principle'.

Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy by Bernard Williams Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Hardback (May 2015)

Originally published: London: Fontana, 1985.

» View all books by Bernard Williams

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Author Biography - Bernard Williams

Bernard Williams was Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge (1967-1979) and Provost of King's College. He held the Monroe Deutsch Professorship of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley (1998-2000) and was White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford (1990-2003). He was Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford until his death in 2003.

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