Book Rec: Understanding Knowledge
Understanding Knowledge is an introduction to epistemology by Professor Michael Huemer (University of Colorado, Boulder), whose professional career spans decades of teaching and publishing in philosophy; especially on epistemology. He’s been called one of the world’s best living philosophers; though, he more modestly describes himself as only a good philosopher, not a great one. To his credit, however, most of his professional work was published through reputable academic publishers. What’s surprising, then, is his decision to self-publish this new title; in addition to an earlier general introduction to philosophy entitled Knowledge, Reality, and Value: a common sense guide to philosophy.
According to Huemer, however, self-publication has its advantages. It lets him lower the price below many competitors and gives him the editorial freedom to write in a more engaging style. Given the notoriety that many academic publishers have for pricing their books unreasonably (if not prohibitively) high, the prices of Huemer’s self-published titles, like Understanding Knowledge, will be welcome savings for many, especially in this economy. Unfortunately, some readers won’t be as thrilled about Huemer’s new editorial freedom and its effects on his writing style.
Huemer’s writing style in Understanding Knowledge is less engaging than I anticipated and I’m someone who enjoys his clear writing and avidly reads both his professional and popular work. So, I suppose that while Huemer’s decision to self-publish has meant instant savings for readers, the effects on his writing style are less immediately apparent.
Understanding Knowledge reads a lot more like an encyclopedia than a gripping philosophical text. For this reason, I feel that it's better suited as a reference text than a cover-to-cover introduction to epistemology. As a reference text, it’s an amazing return on investment and it’ll definitely enrich your understanding, as it did mine. So, I definitely recommend it.
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