Humanism Amidst Our Machines   /   Summer 2011   /    Book Forum: The Retrieval Of Ethics By Talbot Brewer

Talbot Brewer Responds

I’m grateful to Rai Gaita, Tim chappell,  and Nick Wolterstorff for these thought-provoking comments on the closing words of my book, where I wanted to say something about the telos of theoretical reflection that did not fit comfortably within any recognized philosophi- cal specialization. I had argued that the telos was not propositional knowledge, which can be irredeemably trivial even in large quanti- ties, but actualized understanding of the world and our place in it. This latter claim did not fit within the one field of contemporary philoso- phy that focuses on norms of theoretical reflec- tion—namely epistemology—because most epistemologists assume that the proper subject of their inquiry is knowledge (despite the fact that “understanding” is arguably a more apt translation of the Greek episteme than “knowl- edge”). This troubled me because an important philosophical question was marked for neglect by the prevailing segmentation of professional philosophy.

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