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Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy

Back to Profile. Photos Works. Main Photo. Kwame Anthony Appiah. School period Add photo. Career Add photo. Achievements Add photo. Membership Add photo. Awards Add photo. Other Photos Add photo. Other photo of Kwame Anthony Appiah. Connections Add photo. Assertion and Conditionals Cambridge Studies in Philosophy This book develops in detail the simple idea that asserti The Ethics of Identity Race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexuali Brand new copy. Association, Council Foreign Rels.

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View map. Born March 8, Cambridge University , Master of Arts. Cambridge University , Philosophy , Doctor of Philosophy.


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University Richmond , Doctor of Letters. Colgate University , Doctor of Letters. Bard College , Doctor of Letters. Fairleigh Dickinson University , Doctor of Letters. Swarthmore College , Doctor of Letters. His father, Joseph Emmanuel Appiah, a lawyer and politician, was also, at various times, a Member of Parliament, an Ambassador and a President of the Ghana Bar Association; his mother, the novelist and children's writer, Peggy Appiah, whose family was English, was active in the social, philanthropic and cultural life of Kumasi, where they lived.

His three younger sisters Isobel, Adwoa and Abena, were born in Ghana. As a child, he spent a good deal of time in England, staying with his grandmother, Dame Isobel Cripps, widow of the English statesman Sir Stafford Cripps. His Cambridge dissertation explored the foundations of probabilistic semantics; once revised, these arguments were published by Cambridge University Press as Assertion and Conditionals.

Out of that first monograph grew a second book, For Truth in Semantics, which dealt with Michael Dummett's defenses of semantic anti-realism. Professor Appiah has also published widely in African and African-American literary and cultural studies. His current interests range over African and African-American intellectual history and literary studies, ethics and philosophy of mind and language; and he has also taught regularly about African traditional religions; but his major current work has to do with the philosophical foundations of liberalism and with questions of method in arriving at knowledge about values.

Professor Appiah joined the Princeton faculty in as Laurance S. This is now available in a revised multi-volume edition from Oxford University Press. In , he coauthored Bu Me B? He is also the author of three novels, of which the first, Avenging Angel, was largely set at Clare College, Cambridge, and he reviews regulalry for the New York Review of Books. Church, prayer, going to Sunday services and weekday evening meetings remains the center of life for some families and communities.

One hundred years ago, they were the frameworks of the rituals and values of many English people, particularly those of the class of shopkeepers and lesser professions.

IBNA - Appiah’s ‘Thinking It Through’ delves into contemporary philosophy

Each denomination and sect identified itself through its Read more. In the post-colonial period, different images of what could be argued as "African" Philosophy from the level of epistemology have risen. Momoh, and Chinweizu.


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  • The philosophy of the modern and contemporary African world, including the diaspora, is often known as Africana Philosophy. Rationalism is any view emphasizing the role or importance of human reason. Extreme rationalism tries to base all knowledge on reason alone. Rationalism typically starts from premises that cannot coherently be denied, then attempts by logical steps to deduce every possible object of knowledge. The first rationalist, in this broad sense, is often held to be Parmenides fl. But thinking must have an object, therefore something beyond thinking really exists.

    Zeno of Elea born c. Plato — B. The philosopher's work is to consider being, and the essence of things. But the characteristic of essences is that they are universal. The nature of a man, a triangle, a tree, applies to all men, all triangles, all trees. Modern rationalism begins with Descartes. Reflection on the nature of perceptual experience, as well as scientific discoveries in physiology and optics, led Descartes and also Locke to the view that we are directly aware of ideas, rather than objects.

    This view gave rise to three questions:. In , in Meditations on First Philosophy, he used this method of doubt in an attempt to establish what knowledge is most certain. He chose as the foundation of his philosophy the famous statement Cogito ergo sum "I think, therefore I am".

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    He then attempted to rebuild a system of knowledge based on this single supposedly indubitable fact. This involves proving the existence of God, using, among other means, a version of the ontological argument. Empiricism , in contrast to rationalism, downplays or dismisses the ability of reason alone to yield knowledge of the world, preferring to base any knowledge we have on our senses.

    John Locke propounded the classic empiricist view in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in , developing a form of naturalism and empiricism on roughly scientific and Newtonian principles. Hume's work A Treatise of Human Nature combined empiricism with a spirit of skepticism. Other philosophers who made major contributions to empiricism include Thomas Hobbes and George Berkeley Bishop Berkeley.

    During this era, religious ideas played a mixed role in the struggles that preoccupied secular philosophy. Bishop Berkeley 's famous idealist refutation of key tenets of Isaac Newton is a case of an Enlightenment philosopher who drew substantially from religious ideas. The restricted interests of many of the philosophers of the time foreshadow the separation and specialization of different areas of philosophy that would occur in the 20th century.

    Kant's intention with this work was to look at what we know and then consider what must be true about the way we know it.

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    One major theme was that there are fundamental features of reality that escape our direct knowledge because of the natural limits of the human faculties. Kant's philosophy, known as transcendental idealism , would later be made more abstract and more general, in the movement known as German idealism , a type of absolute idealism. German idealism rose to popularity with G.

    Hegel 's publication in of Phenomenology of Spirit. In that work, Hegel asserts that the aim of philosophy is to spot the contradictions apparent in human experience which arise, for instance, out of the recognition of the self as both an active, subjective witness and a passive object in the world and to get rid of these contradictions by making them compatible. Hegel believed that every thesis creates its own antithesis, and that out of the two arises a synthesis, a process known as the "Hegelian dialectic.

    The late nineteenth century brought about the rise of a new philosophy in the New World. Charles Peirce and William James are considered to be the co-founders of loosely allied schools of pragmatism , which holds that the truth of beliefs does not consist in their correspondence with reality, but in their usefulness and efficacy. It led to what would later be called instrumentalism , the idea that what is important for a good theory is how useful it is, not how well it represents reality.

    Since the usefulness of any belief at any time might be contingent on circumstance, Peirce and James conceptualized final truth as that which would be established only by the future, final settlement of all opinion. Though not widely recognized under the term "pragmatist," philosophers like Henri Bergson and G. Moore shared many of the same foundational assumptions with the pragmatists. Pragmatism has recently been taken in new directions by Richard Rorty and Hilary Putnam.

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    Critics have accused pragmatism of falling victim to a simple fallacy: because something that is true proves useful, that usefulness is the basis for its truth. With the publication of Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead's Principia Mathematica in , mathematical logic attracted the interest of many philosophers.

    With this increased interest in mathematical logic came the rise in popularity for the view known as logical positivism and related theories, all of which shared a commitment to the reliability of empirical tests. Philosophers such as Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach considered only confirmable or falsifiable claims to be genuine philosophy; anything that could not be deduced from testable claims was considered mere superstition or dogma.

    At the same time that logic was coming to prominence in America and Britain, a separate movement occurred in continental Europe. Under the influence of Franz Brentano , Edmund Husserl developed a new method to study human problems in his Logical Investigations and Ideas The method, known as phenomenology , was used to examine the details of human experience and consciousness in order to observe the most basic facts of human existence; the examination included not just observations of the way the world appears but observations of one's own thoughts, and when and how they occur.

    An important part of Husserl's phenomenological project was to show that all conscious acts are directed at or about objective content, a feature that Husserl called intentionality. Phenomenology later achieved international fame through the work of such philosophers as Martin Heidegger formerly Husserl's research assistant , Maurice Merleau-Ponty , and Jean-Paul Sartre. Indeed, through the work of Heidegger and Sartre, Husserl's focus on subjective experience influenced aspects of existentialism.

    Heidegger expanded the study of phenomenology to elaborate a philosophical hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is a method of interpreting texts by drawing out the meaning of the text in the context it was written in. Heidegger stressed two new elements of philosophical hermeneutics: that the reader brings out the meaning of the text in the present, and that the tools of hermeneutics can be used to interpret more than just texts e.

    Existentialism is a philosophical movement that rejects any predetermined role for human beings. Unlike tools, which are designed in order to fill some preconceived role for example, a knife's preconceived role, or essence , is to cut , human beings are capable, to some extent at least, of deciding for themselves what constitutes their own essence.

    Their influence, however, has extended beyond existentialist thought. Religious thinkers were among those influenced by Kierkegaard. Two of the targets of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche's writings were the philosophical systems of Hegel and Schopenhauer respectively, which they had each admired in their youths.