Why are we afraid of the truth?

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Paul Boghossian

Fear of the truth

A plea against relativism and constructivism
Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2013
ISBN 9783518296592
Hardcover, 164 pages, EUR 14.00


Relativist and constructivist theories of truth and knowledge have conquered large parts of the academic world. Paul Boghossian diagnoses a "fear of the truth", examines these points of view and reveals their fundamental weaknesses. He focuses on three different readings of the assertion that knowledge is only socially constructed and truth is only relative, and refutes them all. In contrast, he argues that we should follow our common sense: the world is as it is, regardless of our opinions about it. Boghossian shows in this book why objective knowledge is possible and why a truth exists beyond social or cultural perspectives.

Review note on Die Tageszeitung, April 16, 2014

Christof Forder is not really satisfied with this polemic against the postmodern theory of Paul Boghossian. Although the analytically fit author can clearly explain theorems from Foucault to Goodman, Boghossian remains too undemanding for him when running against constructivism of fact and the incoherence of postmodern theories. Apparently, the author does not dare to develop his own theory, in which the facts are satisfied. It's a shame, thinks the reviewer.

Review note on Neue Z├╝rcher Zeitung, 02/08/2014

For Andrea Roedig, with his attempt to refute relativism and constructivism, the author seems to break down at least a crack of open doors. That these methods always have a questionable side, that they are not coherent and unrealistic, as the author claims, sounds familiar to the reviewer. And the fact that the philosopher Paul Boghossian chooses Richard Rorty, Wittgenstein and Thomas Kuhn as opponents for his analytical investigation of factual and legitimacy relativism does not make the book any more topical for Roedig. According to the reviewer, the volume is also not suitable for laypeople, as the author's refutations are ultimately quite brief and unclear, as she explains. In his epilogue, the reviewer Markus Gabriel seems to address the problem of the fear of truth in a more contemporary way than the author.

Review note on S├╝ddeutsche Zeitung, 04.09.2013

Franz Viohl found the attempt made with this volume to bridge the rifts between Anglo-Saxon and continental philosophy to be very helpful to Franz Viohl, at least that's what Markus Gabriel's afterword tastes like for him. Paul Boghossian's account of postmodernism, now available in German, is what the reviewer thinks of a lot of rhetoric that sometimes tramples understandability, for example when the American philosopher brings absolute reality to the table with Hegel and uses all sorts of "logical formulations" to face relativism. The stalemate that emerges here between the assumption that our worldview is socially constructed and the one that assumes unconditional facts seems to be taken by the reviewer to be a gain in knowledge.
Read the review at buecher.de