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Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Wallace Matson

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.001.0001
Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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After a Darwinian-type account of what beliefs are and how they arose in animals acting to cope with their environments–“low beliefs,” virtually all of which are true–Professor Matson shows how the invention of language led to imagination and thence to beliefs formed in other ways (“high beliefs”), not true though thought to be, which could be consolidated into mythologies, the first Grand Unified Theories of Everything. Science began when Thales of Miletus produced a Grand Theory based on low (“everyday”) beliefs. Matson traces the course of science and philosophy through seven centuries to their sudden and violent displacement by Christianity with its Grand Theory of the old type. Against the widespread opinion that modern philosophy has slowly but completely emancipated itself from bondage to theology, he shows how remnants from the medieval ‘interlude’ still lurk unnoticed in the purportedly neutral notions of logical possibility, possible worlds, and laws as commands, to the detriment of the natural harmony between science and philosophy, including ethics. Accessibly written, this is a book for all who are interested in the foundations of 21st century thought and who wonder where the cracks might be.

Keywords: evolution; Darwin; high/low belief; Christianity; logical possibility; commands; ethics; theology; possible worlds; Thales

Book.  288 pages. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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A Brief History of Coping in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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Language in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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High and Low Beliefs in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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The “Will to Believe” in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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Eden in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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Babylon in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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Miletus: The Invention of Science in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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Anaximander and Anaximenes in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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Science and Philosophy Come to Italy in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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