Thinking to Some Purpose

L. S. Stebbing, Thinking to Some Purpose: Susan Stebbing (1885-1943) is a significant but often overlooked figure in twentieth-century philosophy. In 1939, just under a year before the outbreak of the Second World War, she published Thinking to Some Purpose. In publishing this text with the widely popular ‘Pelican’ series, Stebbing hoped to make a crucial intervention into public discourse in the face of threats to democracy across Europe. In the preface, she writes: ‘I am convinced of the urgent need for a democratic people to think clearly.’ Stebbing believed that each individual’s ability to reflect, avoid prejudice and bias, and know when (and when not) to be persuaded by an argument was absolutely crucial to ensuring that we remain free, on both an individual level and as a society. For that reason, she published what she saw as a ‘manual to clear thinking’. [recommended by Peter West, Durham University]

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