Wednesday, May 27, 2015


John Caputo's Truth: Philosophy in Transit cuts through the the politics of philosophy and gets right to a postmodern critique of modernity; if non-specialists have decided to read just one of Caputo's books, then this little pot-boiler gem surveys the themes that unify his recent scholarly work.

Here, in friendly prose and style, Caputo sets the stage for uncovering the power-play of the Enlightenment, and gives clear expression to some of the themes of this blog, most notably, how the modern turn takes knowledge hostage, and chains the brain to an empirical paradigm. Had I read this little treatise prior to writing several of my posts on modernity, its method and its politics, I dare say I would have had some better language for that task, not to mention a few good citations. Clearly Caputo has given his topic deep thought.

The book is a fast read, and that quality is thematic in itself: everything happens quickly in our world. It is not without some difficulties, but the overarching theme of hermeneutics over 'pure facts,' of interpretation over 'certainty,' of compelling readings over evidence and totality, render them mere venial sins. Caputo stands clear of the extortion absolutism and relativism always offer, and convincingly dispels the rumor that postmodernism is nothing but a grand relativistic schema. His call for a 'ceasefire' between atheism and theism, secular and religious, etc., exemplifies his approach.

This book will do a reader no lasting harm, and may even provide a window to Caputo's scholarly elaborations for those readers whose interest is piqued. 

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