MAN IS THE MEASURE: A Cordial Invitation to the Central Problems of Philosophy by Reuben Abel

MAN IS THE MEASURE: A Cordial Invitation to the Central Problems of Philosophy

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

According to the author, this is not an introduction to, or a survey or history of, philosophy; it is a broad inventory of the most provocative and persistent questions about the nature of man and his world, and of the diverse systems of thought by which men have attempted to deal with these questions. Abel's stated ambitions are three: to make philosophy accessible to the layman; to broaden its scope to include the theories and methods of such other forms of creative inquiry as natural science, psychology, anthropology, sociology, and art; and to blend the often opposed stances of analysis (logic) and speculation (metaphysics). In the first of these he fails resoundingly: the lay reader will wade only with difficulty through such unfamiliar terms as ""psi function,"" ""protocol,"" ""instantiated,"" and ""modus ponens."" But the reader reasonably grounded in philosophy will enjoy the wit, the comprehensiveness, and the omnivorous questioning curiosity--at once rigorous and childlike--of Abel's generalist temper. He considers questions of what there is in the world (things? events? fields? sense data?) and whether it is ""really"" in the world or in the mind; of how we ""know,"" test, name, and classify it all; of how succeeding generations of thinkers in all fields have restructured our notions of nature and the self; of the mystery of language; of the irremediable flaws in our ""knowing"" and the undauntedness with which we go on imposing our own useful orders on an ultimately unknowable yet somehow richly regular world. It adds up to a dense, exuberant mass of unanswerable questions and provisional orders, which--to Abel--exemplify the human task, predicament, and delight.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1976
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan