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Gareth Matthews suggests that we can better understand the nature of philosophical inquiry if we recognize the central role played by perplexity. The seminal representation of philosophical perplexity is in Plato's dialogues; Matthews invites us to view this as a response to something inherently problematic in the basic notions that philosophy deals with. He examines the intriguing shifts in Plato's attitude to perplexity and suggests that this development may be seen as an archetypal pattern that philosophers follow even today. So it is that one may be won over to philosophy in the first place by the example of a Socratic teacher who displays an uncanny gift at getting one perplexed about something one thought one understood perfectly well. Later, however, wanting like Plato to move beyond perplexity to produce philosophical 'results', one may be chagrined to discover that one's very best attempt to develop a philosophical theory induces its own perplexity. Then, like late Plato and like Aristotle, the philosopher may seek to 'normalize' perplexity in a way that both allows for progress and yet respects the peculiarly baffling character of philosophical questions.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780198238287
ISBN-10: 0198238282
Format: Hardback
(212mm x 141mm x 16mm)
Pages: 148
Imprint: Clarendon Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 24-Jun-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


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Author Biography - Gareth B. Matthews

Gareth B. Matthews has been Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts for thirty years.

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