- Philosophy within Its Proper Bounds by Edouard Machery
Oxford, 224 pp, £40.00, August 2017, ISBN 978 0 19 880752 0
‘If universities had been an invention of the second half of the 20th century,’ Michael Dummett wondered in his last book, The Nature and Future of Philosophy (2010), ‘would anyone have thought to include philosophy among the subjects that they taught and studied?’ Dummett’s anxiety wasn’t whether philosophy could survive at a time when the value of a university education is gauged in increasingly reductive, economic terms. He was worried about the status of philosophy as an intellectual enterprise. ‘Philosophy is a sector in the quest for truth,’ he wrote, and if it ‘makes no progress, it is not worth wasting any time on’. Yet he remained optimistic, ending the book with the prediction that philosophers will ‘settle what is surely the most important question, whether there are rational grounds for believing in the existence of God … in the lifetimes of our great-grandchildren’. Not long to wait.
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