Steven M. Cahn is professor of philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs and then acting president. He has taught at Dartmouth, Vassar, New York University, the University of Rochester, and the University of Vermont, where he chaired the department of philosophy. His numerous books include Fate, Logic, and Time; The Eclipse of Excellence: A Critique of American Higher Education; and God, Reason, and Religion.
Steven M. Cahn currently resides in the state of New York. Steven M. Cahn has an academic affiliation as follows - City University of New York CUNY Graduate Centre The City University o.
Reviews - What do customers think about Fate, Logic, and Time?
A great book with a very limited target audience Jan 15, 2000
This book outlines, in excruciating but necessary detail, the argument that the laws of logic alone, with no further premises, prove that no man has free will. All other arguments against free will (argument from cause and effect, argument from omniscience) are covered only insofar as they relate to the main argument.
Very early in the book, Cahn notes that he believes the argument for fatalism to be unsound. The majority of the book is then spent outlining the argument in *favor* of fatalism. Cahn feels that most philosophers have not given fatalism and its supporting arguments the full credit they deserve, and goes to amazing lengths to build a seemingly air-tight case supporting fatalism.
If Cahn had stopped at chapter seven, he would have completely converted me to the belief that man has no free will. Fortunately, there is a chapter eight. In this final chapter, Cahn disagrees with fatalism by disputing the law of the exluded middle (which says that any statement must be true or, if not true, must be false). He defends this seemingly absurd argument just as skillfully and clearly as he defends the seemingly absurd argument for fatalism.
There are no wandering analogies or poetic language in this book. Cahn is logical, direct, and each statement has one specific meaning. Occasionaly, sentences are tortured due to Cahn's need to eliminate all vagueness and the strangness of fatalistic arguments. For example:
"[The premise is important], for if it is now false that it will be the case that a sea-fight will take place tomorrow, then assuming that tomorrow there is a sea-fight, it is not the case tomorrow that 'anything's being the case definitely implies that it has not been the case that it will never be the case'."
It might be necessary to back up several paragraphs and take a few running attempts at sentences like this in order to grasp the clear meaning, but most statements of this type are accompanied by symbolic logic and all are ultimately understandable.
Ultimately, though, this book is a thorough, logical analysis of one specific argument for a widely dismissed view in the specialized field of philosophy. Although I enjoyed it immensely, most people will find it dry and -- since they already agree with the conclusion -- pointless.