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Philosophy and Mystification is a work of philosphy in and of itself as much as it is a book about philosophy. It's reflections on the nature, methods and resources of philosophic enquiry are carefully grounded in the central problems that have dogged Western philosophy in the modern era: logical necessity, machine intelligence, the relation of science and religion, determinism, skepticism and the question of foundations and origins. Guy Robinson argues, in his clear and precise style, that a conception of philosophy was adopted in the Seventeenth Century that required us to see the "world upside-down", creating abstract and mystified entities to explain the ordinary and concrete, requiring us to explain the social in terms of the individual, and the human and purposive in terms of the mechanical, and not only to see nature as a vast mechanism but science as a mechanical activity whose rules it was the business of the philosopher to discover. Robinson's alliance of Aristotle and Wittgenstein is an effort to re-focus our views on these problems and to locate philosophy itself in a historical context.
He goes on to argue that the historical tasks of a revolutionary transition in Europe made those inversions, conceptions and the notion of the grand mechanical project seem both natural and necessary. Robinson claims that if we are to escape confusions and blind-alleys we were led into the Seventeenth Century, we were going to have to go back not only to question the agenda but to understand how the historical context made that agenda seem both natural and necessary. Philosophy and Mystification is an extraordinary meta-philosophical work that boldly tackles a series of particular problems in philosophy as a starting point for a reflection on the nature of and point of philosophy iteself.
Guy Robinson taught philosophy at the University of Southampton until his early retirement in 1982. He now lives and works in Dublin.