Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Exploring Reality and Its Uncertainties


Ernest Krausz is Professor Emeritus at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. He received his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics and later was Reader in the Faculty of Social Sciences, City University. Subsequently, as a Professor at Bar-Ilan, he became its Rector, and served as a member of The Council of Higher Education and executive member of the Israel Science Foundation. He is currently Professor in the School of Behavioural Sciences, Netanya Academic College. His books include: Sociology in Britain (1969), and The Limits of Science (2000).

Using the combined tools of science, philosophy and the social sciences, the author sets out to explore the numerous facets of what we understand reality to mean. Close attention is given to the human side, especially to the individual experience of reality as manifested through personality, cognitive power, self-consciousness, and rationalistic and communicative endowments. This micro analysis is contrasted with a macro world view, encompassing our understanding of, and observation of, the outer edges of the universe, and how different levels (scientific and lay) of understanding impact on our relative perception of this particular reality.

Three pivotal arguments sustain the micro/macro examination parameters outlined above. First, is the need to view reality in terms of uncertainty. We perennially encounter uncertainty since reality is riddled through with chance, even in the case of deliberate choice of action ostensibly based on rationality, yet unavoidably affected by chance. Second, the limits of knowledge and constant uncertainty means that mankind must always live with the unknown and the unpredictable. Third, it is the human being, whether scientist or layperson, who creates the knowledge and its application to the experience of life, which in turn contributes to the creation of new realities.

These complex and infinite processes are difficult to fathom at the personal level, and fraught with challenges for scientists, philosophers and social scientists. But given the centrality of reality to our everyday experience and social intercourse–for the individual has to face the world, interact with other people and survive – its importance cannot be underestimated. Ernest Krausz provides the philosophy platform to analyze the complex social interactions of human beings as they wrestle with the reality of everyday life, yet observe the vastness and uncertainty of their galaxy and beyond.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-350-8
Hardback Price: £29.95 / $49.50
Release Date: March 2010
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-444-4
Paperback Price: £22.50 / $34.95
Release Date: October 2010
Page Extent / Format: 144 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


Preface and Acknowledgements

1 What is Reality?
Isaiah Berlin’s Sense of Reality
Philosophical Views
Some Sociological Perspectives
Comprehending Reality through Science
Pluralistic Reality: A Conclusion

2 Human Knowledge and Uncertainty
Science and Uncertainty
Uncertainty and Everyday Life
Rescher’s World of ‘Luck’
Living with the Unknown

3 The Cosmos: From Evidence to Speculation
The Universe Observed
Inventing Models
The Cosmos and Human Existence
Testing the Limits of Science

4 The Individual Facing the World
The Individual and his Self
The Individual and Society
Basic Sociological Views
Individual Identity: Mead and Berger
The Individual and the Human World

5 The Elements of Rationality and Chance in the
Choice of Human Action

Choice, Rationality and Chance
The Process of Choosing an Action
The Role of Chance in the Choice of Action
The Limits of Rationality
Concluding Remarks

6 The Human Condition – Does Reality Change?


This book is an ambitious and impressive project. It examines the concept of reality through the lens of philosophy, sociology and scientific discourse. Ernest Krausz has managed to convey the essence of some complex ideas with elegance and efficiency. The book will appeal to readers who have an interest in science and philosophy and wish to think critically and broadly about the nature and limits of human understanding.
Stephen Miller, Emeritus Professor of Social Research, City University, London

The human sciences, like all sciences, aim to understand, explain and – where possible – predict. Prof Krausz addresses our attempts to explore social reality – which is both normative and a human construct. Predicting known and unknown unknowns is notoriously difficult. This is a fascinating area and he is a deft and learned guide.
Julius Gould, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Nottingham

This book is a concise yet wide-ranging effort to understand the limitations of our understanding of Reality. In the course of this it outlines the views of major thinkers in Philosophy, the Sciences and Social Sciences. Krausz, Professor Emeritus at Bar-Ilan and currently at the Netanya Academic College, brings a lifetime of learning and research to bear in illuminating fundamental problems regarding the human quest for knowledge. At the heart of much of this exploration is the role Uncertainty plays in our human understanding, a role not at all obviated by scientific and technical advances. In fact Professor Krausz gives concrete examples of how our knowing more of Reality than we ever have before, as for instance in our understanding of the sub microscopic and cosmic worlds introduces new areas of Uncertainty in our knowledge.
... The first thinker considered is Isaiah Berlin, whose stressing of multiple ways of seeing the world is taken as a kind of keynote. The book will go on to examine different realms of knowing which not only within themselves have multiple ways of being understood, but which in their connection with each other seem to obviate any systematic single synthesis of them. Perhaps the most poignant chapter of the work is the one which touches upon the historical and political realm. Here the example which is focused on is the Holocaust. The idea that all was Fate is rejected, and the argument is made that for individual lives survival was by no means a certain matter, and often involved strong elements of chance. Here there is an implicit warning to all those who would want to believe that Survival is a guaranteed outcome, that we can know History beforehand. And in fact the historical realm is shown to be one in which the element of uncertainty, and non- predictability plays an especially significant part.
... One area of human life and action which is not given its special chapter in this work is the moral realm. And yet it is precisely in that realm where this work has its strongest implication. For the field-by-field examination of human efforts at knowing reality and the understanding of the limitations of that enterprise bring us to a conclusion about human limitation and thus human humility. In this the whole tenor and spirit of the book is in accord with its fundamental conclusion. For the inquiry is made in a careful and deep way, with there being always a clear sense and awareness by the author of his own limitation. The work is in its teaching that limitation and imperfect and incomplete understanding are inherent in the human intellectual enterprise a restraining word to a mankind often made dizzy by its own scientific and technical accomplishments.
... I have given a brief summary of this work which does not do justice to its line by line chapter by chapter intellectual richness. I have not read a work so broad in its scope and so rich in its intellectual interest in a very long time.
Shalom Freedman

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