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How Do We Know?: An Introduction to…
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How Do We Know?: An Introduction to Epistemology

by James K. Dew, Jr., Mark W. Foreman (Author)

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Well... I'm going against the trend to score this book high because, while it's a reasonable introduction to epistemology, the authors' self-confessed Christian bias is its greatest weakness. When the authors stay away from areas not particularly contentious from a Christian perspective (whatever that is, given the diversity of Christian perspectives) it's reasonably balanced in presenting various options in response to the questions the book addresses. And the authors definitely try to be fair. However, when the book gets to the question of divine revelation, it is inadequate in my opinion. The authors briefly touch on the issue of other religions claiming to have supernatural revelation, but they very quickly move to a narrow Christian focus which describes a common apologetic argument in defence of the authority of the Christian scriptures. There are very significant and contentious issues around a claim that one religion has direct knowledge from “God”. Maybe I'm asking too much of an essentially Evangelical survey of epistemology. My hope is that any reader, including Christian readers, will also explore some of these issues by seeking out introductory texts on epistemology that come from a variety of views. ( )
  spbooks | May 15, 2014 |
How do we know what we think we know? Dare we claim to know anything at all about God, or can we speak only about what we believe? Is it time to throw up in our hands and give in to postmodernism?

Don’t buy this book looking for an argument for the existence of God. That’s not the focus. This is a very good introduction to epistemology, with only a light Christian tint. Until the final pages, little is said about knowledge of God, and when we do get to the topic of divine revelation (for that is our primary means of knowing anything about God), the argument for why the Bible story of Jesus is reliable history is unfortunately too brief to be helpful.

Instead, the book hopes to introduce its readers to the philosophy of epistemology–that is, the study of the nature and limits of human knowledge. Dew and Foreman are both associate professors of Philosophy. They start out with the long-standing definition of knowledge as Justified True Belief (JTB), provide a few counter arguments to show the inadequacy of that definition, and then lead into some of the deeper issues. What is truth? Where does knowledge come from? Do we really need justification? How and why do we believe? Does “revelation” count as knowledge? (This may be the most important question in the book for Christians.) And how certain can we be?

These topics are deeper than they sound, but you don’t need any background in philosophy to follow the discussion. If the book sounds dry, it’s not. I confess an interest in this discipline, because it’s not uncommon at all for two people to claim to know contradictory facts, judging themselves to be 100% certain of their knowledge, which only highlights how fallible we humans are. When the topic turns to religion, we affirm our “knowledge” with even more certainty.

In the end, certainty is less attainable than we imagine, and not as necessary as we might think. Most of the really interesting things we believe are things that we could possibly be wrong about.

Strongly recommended especially if you are new to the topic. ( )
  DubiousDisciple | Mar 18, 2014 |
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Dew, James K., Jr.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Foreman, Mark W.Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0830840362, Paperback)

What does it mean to know something? Can we have confidence in our knowledge? Epistemology, the study of knowledge, can often seem like a daunting subject. And yet few topics are more basic to human life. We are inquisitive creatures by nature, and the unending quest for truth leads us to raise difficult questions about the quest itself. What are the conditions, sources and limits of our knowledge? Do our beliefs need to be rationally justified? Can we have certainty? In this primer on epistemology, James Dew and Mark Foreman guide students through this discipline in philosophy. By asking basic questions and using clear, jargon-free language, they provide an entry into some of the most important issues in contemporary philosophy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:18 -0400)

What does it mean to know something? Can we have confidence in our knowledge? Epistemology, the study of knowledge, can often seem like a daunting subject. And yet few topics are more basic to human life. We are inquisitive creatures by nature, and the unending quest for truth leads us to raise difficult questions about the quest itself. What are the conditions, sources and limits of our knowledge? Do our beliefs need to be rationally justified? Can we have certainty? In this primer on epistemology, James Dew and Mark Foreman guide students through this discipline in philosophy. By asking basic questions and using clear, jargon-free language, they provide an entry into some of the most important issues in contemporary philosophy.… (more)

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