Partial Truths and Our Common Future: A Perspectival Theory of Truth and Value

SUNY Press
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 Argues that a pluralistic understanding of truth can foster productive conversations about common concerns involving religion, science, ethics, politics, economics, and ecology without falling into relativism.
In this book, Donald A. Crosby defends the idea that all claims to truth are at best partial. Recognizing this, he argues, is a necessary safeguard against arrogance, close-mindedness, and potentially violent reactions to differences of outlook and practice. Crosby demonstrates how “partial truths” are inevitably at work in conversations and debates about religion, science, morality, economics, ecology, and social and political progress. He then focuses on the concept in the discipline of philosophy, looking at a number of distinctions that are taken to be strictly binary—those between fact and value, continuity and novelty, rationalism and empiricism, mind and body, and good and evil—and demonstrates how in all of these cases, each on its own can offer only an incomplete picture. Partial Truths and Our Common Future invites ongoing dialogue with others for the sake of mutual enlargements of understanding rather than mere civility, and provides incentive for continuing open-minded and shared inquiries into the important issues of life.

“This is a transdisciplinary philosophical work that moves with grace across traditions, time periods, and thinkers. It is a master class in the existential and public relevance of philosophy and a rare example of a book that is both timely and timeless.” — Michael S. Hogue, author of The Promise of Religious Naturalism


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About the author

 Donald A. Crosby is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Colorado State University and the author of many books, including More Than Discourse: Symbolic Expressions of Naturalistic FaithNature as Sacred Ground: A Metaphysics for Religious Naturalism; and The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Seven Types of Everyday Miracle, all published by SUNY Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Aug 20, 2018
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Pages
212
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ISBN
9781438471358
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Language
English
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Genres
PHILOSOPHY / Epistemology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This book is our century’s most comprehensive and wise treatment of nihilism in all of its guises, comparing favorably with Rosen, Cavell, and indeed with Spengler. Crosby argues that our culture is genuinely haunted by nihilism expressing itself in the fideism of fundamentalism as well as in the debilitating alienation from all orientation. This results from a one-sided development of Western culture.

Unlike most writers on this topic, Crosby acknowledges many sources colluding to frame the culture of nihilism, including “the death of God,” the objectification of nature, the meaninglessness of suffering in a mechanical universe, the ephemerality of time in a world where value does not accumulate, the arbitrariness of historicized reason, the reduction of value to will, and the alienation of the Cartesian ego. These sources are reviewed in the first two parts of the book with the result that the phenomenon of nihilism becomes understandable.

In its third and fourth parts, Crosby provides a critical analysis of the religious and philosophical forces leading to nihilism by discussing authors from the early modern period through Dostoyevsky, Sartre, Russell, and Derrida. He shows that these forces are skewed and impoverished and should not be allowed to determine our situation. The comprehensive attention to detail and the multi-perspectival interpretation demonstrates as well as asserts the richness of the culture that puts nihilism in its place.

Part Five, finally, rephrases the criticism of the sources of nihilism in positive ways.

Part Four in particular is a tour de force of philosophical argument. Its richness of nuance, plurality of views examined, and adroitness of critical interpretation provide cumulatively a powerful, non-nihilistic reading of the philosophic tradition.

The force of the argument derives from its comprehensive, cumulative character. Crosby distinguishes and relates five areas of nihilism: political, moral, epistemological, cosmic, and existential. Throughout the book, he illustrates and examines these as they are expressed in literature and art, in daily life and practical affairs, and in philosophy. The book is richly erudite in its marshalling of consciousness from so many domains.
Explores the spiritual obligations of humans to animals from a religious naturalist’s perspective.

Humans share the earth with nonhuman animals who are also capable of conscious experience and awareness. Arguing that we should develop an I-thou, not an I-it, relationship with other sentient beings, Donald A. Crosby adds a new perspective to the current debates on human/animal relations and animal rights—that of religious naturalism. Religion of Nature holds that the natural world is the only world and that there is no supernatural animus or law behind it. From this vantage point, our fellow thous are entitled to more than merely moral treatment: protection and enhancement of their continuing well-being deserves to be a central focus of religious reverence, care, and commitment as well. A set of presumptive natural rights for nonhuman animals is proposed and conflicts in applying these rights are acknowledged and considered. A wide range of situations involving humans and nonhuman animals are discussed, including hunting and fishing; eating and wearing; circuses, rodeos, zoos, and aquariums; scientific experimentation; and the threats of human technology and population growth.

“There is a significant amount of literature in the fields of animal ethics and environmental ethics. A large subset of this literature is from a theistic point of view. Crosby’s work is unique in that he comes at these issues from the perspective of ‘religious naturalism.’ Both words are necessary in that his approach is nontheistic yet very much concerned with reverence for value in nature, in general, and for value in nonhuman animals, in particular. It is a significant contribution to the scholarly community.” — Daniel A. Dombrowksi, author of A Platonic Philosophy of Religion: A Process Perspective
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