Rationalism, Empiricism, and Pragmatism: An Introduction

Review of Metaphysics 24 (3):535-535 (1971)
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This volume is intended for use in an undergraduate philosophy course employing the problems' approach. Chapter I provides a clear presentation of Cartesian rationalism. Following the exposition of Descartes' position, there is a section on the standard criticisms levelled by B. Russell. Aune defends the rationalist position with an outline of the traditional arguments for the validity of intuitive knowledge. Chapter I terminates with a list of "Study Questions" and an annotated bibliography suggesting further readings. Chapter II considers classical English empiricism, taking the thought of Hume as paradigmatic. There is a discussion of a priori and a posteriori knowledge as well as a section on the problems of induction and solipsism. Chapter III outlines the attempts of contemporary empiricists to eschew Hume's skepticism by envisioning the world as a construct of our sensory experiences. To avoid the solipsism still implicit in the latter position, a re-evaluation of Hume's theory of perception is offered. Wittgenstein and Strawson are briefly treated in this section. Chapter IV explains the pragmatist's attempt to reduce to the same untenable position the rationalist and empiricist views of the a priori. Chapter V concentrates on the pragmatic theory of justification and includes a treatment of N. Goodman's "new riddle of induction." Aune's book is a readable account of conflicting theories of knowledge and undergraduates should find it of value.--W. J. L.



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