The Rational Human Condition 1, Preface and General Introduction, Section 1.0–What It Is.


Section 1.0  What It Is

The Rational Human Condition is a five-part, four-book series, including —

1. Preface and General Introduction

2. Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge

3. Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics

4. Kantian Ethics and Human Existence: A Study in Moral Philosophy

5. Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise

Each book in the tetralogy is a self-standing study in systematic philosophy, and they can be read in any sequence whatsoever.

At the same time, they all share a common aim, which is my attempt to work out a true general theory of human rationality in a fully natural and thoroughly nonideal world.

I call this philosophical project rational anthropology.

With this aim before me, I have been writing up various parts of The Rational Human Condition since 2005 or 2006.

But there is also a very real sense in which I have been working, working, working on the very same project ever since I started thinking seriously about philosophical issues in the mid-to-late 1970s, like the proverbial hedgehog who — unlike the equally proverbial fox, who knows many things — knows only one big thing.

The Rational Human Condition in its most recent incarnation was originally intended as a sequel to Rationality and Logic (published in 2006).

Then later, as the project steadily grew in breadth, depth, and scope, I began to think of it as a comprehensive sequel to Rationality and Logic and also to Embodied Minds in Action (co-authored with Michelle Maiese, and published in 2009).

In short, it got bigger and bigger.

For a few years, it was a single BIG book manuscript, weighing in at 1200+ pages, threatening to grow even BIGGER, like huge unfortunate Alice crammed up against the walls of her tiny room.

But this one-book version, paradoxically, was at one and the same time both too long for anyone but a sleepless zealot ever to have the time and energy to read, and also too short to discuss everything that absolutely, positively, undeniably, and self-evidently needed to be discussed — not to mention its also being, as Henry James notoriously said of Dostoevsky’s novels, a “loose, baggy monster.”

So the long and the short of it is, that I ultimately split up the one loose, baggy big monster into four separate books, each of them a leaner, meaner, littler monster, and have been hedgehogging away at them all ever since.


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