Ends of Philosophy, The

By Lawrence Cahoone

Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791423226, 418 pages, January 1995
Hardcover : 9780791423219, 418 pages, January 1995

Table of contents




1. The Question of Philosophy

2. Realism and Philosophical Knowledge

3. Peirce's (Anti) Realism

4. Nonfoundational Realism

5. Nietzsche's Naturalistic Epistemology

6. Wittgenstein's Social Relativism

7. Buchler's Objective Relativism

8. Derrida's Semiotic Relativism

9. Rorty's Antiphilosophical Pragmatism

10. The Ends of Philosophy





This is a critique of Peirce, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Buchler, Derrida, and Rorty as anti-realists, showing that each of these philosophers affirms some form of self-undermining relativism that cannot account for itself.


The issue is, "can philosophy attain knowledge at all?" This book seeks a deep and comprehensive confrontation between the foundationalist aims of traditional philosophy, the postmodern critique, and the pragmatic attempt to save a limited form of non-foundational inquiry. Through readings of the work of Peirce, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Buchler, Derrida, Rorty, and others, the possibility of philosophically valid knowledge is probed. The most prominent forms of contemporary anti-realism—relativism, naturalism, and pragmatism—are explored in the analytic, continental, and American traditions.

Lawrence E. Cahoone is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Boston University. He is the author of The Dilemma of Modernity: Philosophy, Culture, and Anti-Culture, also published by SUNY Press and winner of the 1989 Eugene M. Kayden National University Press Book Award.


"Cahoone is acutely aware of the problem of self-referentiality in philosophy. The problem especially plagues relativism because, if truth is relative to an inquirer or to a context, then so is the claim that this is so. Cahoone shows that all forms of anti-realism must affirm some form of relativism, even naturalism and pragmatism. This argument is often put forward more for its display of logical acumen than as a serious way to probe the strengths and limitations of a position. Cahoone has the latter purpose. He develops his arguments judiciously, and is so successful in making his point that he can turn this critique upon himself with a positive result. This is one of the notable accomplishments of the book. " — George Allan, Dickinson College