Knowledge and Civilization


Barry Allen

First Edition • September 1, 2003 • 352 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813341354 • $50.00 USD$62.50 CAN

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Knowledge and Civilization advances detailed criticism of philosophy’s usual approach to knowledge and describes a redirection, away from textbook problems of epistemology, toward an ecological philosophy of technology and civilization. Rejecting theories that confine knowledge to language or discourse, Allen situates knowledge in the greater field of artifacts, technical performance, and human evolution. His wide ranging considerations draw on ideas from evolutionary biology, archaeology, anthropology, and the history of cities, art, and technology.


Barry Allen received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University in 1986. He has taught at the University of Chicago and Hebrew University, and is currently professor of philosophy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is the author of Truth in Philosophy and is an associate editor at the interdisciplinary journal Common Knowledge.

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Completely relocates the so-called ‘problem of knowledge.’ This book is a real challenge to traditional epistemology.
— Michael Hodges, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University

This is a wonderful book on the nature of culture, bringing to bear the sciences of evolution and ecology onto the concept of knowledge. I forecast that this approach, treating knowledge as artifactual, will be stimulating and controversial, but that all of us will come away from Barry Allen’s masterpiece wiser and sadder that we did not think of these things ourselves.
— Michael Ruse, Florida State University

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