Monday, January 23, 2012

A. W. Moore's "The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics"

A. W. Moore is Professor of Philosophy and Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Oxford.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics: Making Sense of Things, and reported the following:
The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics is concerned with the history of metaphysics since Descartes. Its subtitle, Making Sense of Things, reflects the definition of metaphysics—“the most general attempt to make sense of things”—on which the book is based. The book charts the evolution of this enterprise through various competing conceptions of its possibility, scope, and limits. It runs to a little over six hundred pages and it is divided into three parts. Part One deals with the early modern period. Part Two deals with the late modern period in the analytic tradition. Part Three deals with the late modern period in various non-analytic traditions. Each of these three parts is divided into seven chapters, and each of the twenty-one chapters looks in depth at the work of one particular philosopher. The chapters are of roughly equal length. Page 99 thus occurs mid way through the fourth and central chapter of Part One, which is a chapter on David Hume (1711 – 1776).

I would be very disappointed to learn that this page reveals the quality of the whole book. This is not because I take it to be unrepresentative, still less because I take it to be unrepresentatively bad. It is simply because I like to think that my book has, in the words of one of my reviewers, “a strong narrative thread” which prevents its quality from being revealed by anything significantly less than the whole. Typical authorial hubris? You will need to judge for yourself. But be fair: you cannot do so unless you read a good deal more than page 99. (Oh, and for the record, page 99 tries to rebut the suggestion that there is material in Hume that makes a mockery of my definition of metaphysics.)
Learn more about The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue