A Book Review: The New Epistemology of Morality and Truth by Don Robertson

I don't know where to begin. The very mention of philosophy, let alone Epistemology, almost guarantees audience abandonment - unless the audience consists of philosophers I suppose. But wait - we are all philosophers to some degree - since philosophy springs from our natural sense of wonder (Plato?).  So we all practice philosophy to some extent. But as citizens and human beings - does each of us really do as much as we should be doing?  Perhaps this review of Don Robertson's book The New Epistemology of Morality and Truth will:

1. Demonstrate the relevance of this seemingly obscure topic to the "real world" of the reader.
2. Provide a fair analysis with a critical eye.

Before I discuss the book I think it is fair to give some background on myself so the reader can decide whether or not to assign value to my observations and opinions regarding this philosophical topic. I admit that I am interested in philosophy - and that my interest led to study focused mainly on Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Some of my ramblings can be found on this blog. So let's begin.

My first impressions of the book itself, The New Epistemology of Morality and Truth:

1. Epistemology? I have to look that up. Does this have something to do with religion?
2. Who is the woman depicted in the cover art? The look on her face reminds me of the expression on my own wife's face each time I bring up philosophical topics. Could this cover art portray Don's poor wife as he discusses philosophy for the umpteenth time? I'm joking.
3. Morality and Truth? Good luck! I can't wait to see this! Define morality? Define Truth?
4. Who came up with this title? It can't be someone trying to generate reader interest - can it?

So I began by looking up Epistemology. Yes, I admit it, I didn't know the definition so according to my Apple dictionary:

epistemology |iˌpistəˈmäləjē|
noun Philosophy
the theory of knowledge, esp. with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.

In other words - how do we know that which we believe is true - really is? So this is not an obscure or impractical subject - quite the opposite - Epistemology is an uncommon word for what should be a common act. This is what this book is all about. This is a book not just for the philosopher - but for everyone. It is a wake-up call, a challenge for all of us - to think very critically about everything we think we know. Why? Because unless we examine our assumptions we cannot find where we are mistaken - limiting ourselves to a world painted for us by artists with agendas - rather than a world we've done our damnedest to verify.  Whether buying a new car, voting, or evaluating the validity of the latest world crisis fed to us via TV - we must individually get to the facts.  But how does The New Epistemology of Morality and Truth help us get from where we are now to where we need to be? And why should we bother?

Don Robertson's book begins by blazing a trail right through the heart of academia - mincing no words - sparing no one. He sets an example for iconoclasts and critical thinkers - in a way that is blunt enough to get through the thickest of skulls - even my own. He removes all shame from the act of doubting anyone and everything - he leads by example. Whether you agree with him or not - it is refreshing to me, at least, to read something so free of ulterior motive. But the author must have some motive right? For sure.

I can't speak for the author, only myself, but I detect that the motive of the book is to improve the human condition. Don Robertson has provided his "Moral Imperative of Life" as a guide toward this end. It is:

"The moral imperative of life is to live a life that detracts not at all from the lives available to those who will follow us into this world."

This concise rule is the author's distillation of much thought and study - brief, to the point, and in my opinion a damned good idea. Much elaboration is provided hashing out the details so the reader can understand fully the author's viewpoint. Toward the end of the book we find more valuable contrarian ideas - good ideas that need to be heard. Ideas about the power of the individual and how we can exercise that power.

I found The New Epistemology of Morality and Truth an excellent book and highly recommend it to all readers - especially readers who vote. This book is unique in that the blunt honesty removes all preconceived notions the reader may have right off the bat - worrying not about hurting anybody's feelings. Although at first glance it may seem harsh, the persistent reader will find that the brutal honesty saves much time - since the reader can forget author's motives and focus on the subject matter. I wish more books were so proudly politically incorrect.

Finally - I must offer one critical point regarding the "Moral Imperative of Life." How can anyone know that the consequences of their actions will indeed turn out for the good? Often a person will take action they think will do exactly as stated by the Moral Imperative - but it seems to me there are always unknowns that will limit homo sapiens. For example a friend sent me a parable describing a man watching a moth/butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. He thought that by doing some of the work for the creature, helping get the cocoon out of the way for it, relieving the creature of this struggle, that he was doing good. But what he didn't know was that this struggle was necessary for the creature to inflate it's wings. In the end he harmed the creature. So it goes with the moral imperative - there is no way to be sure that our actions will result in good due to the unknown.

However - despite the above criticism - we must be bold - we must try - we must exercise our personal power without fear. And this is what this book is all about - to think about what we do, why we do it, what knowledge we base our actions on, how any self-proclaimed expert can claim to know the truth more than we can  - and how we can leave this world a better place than we found it for those who follow.  What could be more important?


  1. What exactly does "questioning our knowledge" have to do with "leaving the world a better place"?! You said he mentions his moral imperative near the end---so what's he discuss before that? Your details are kinda thin.

    Is this another "green" bandwagon book, where he falls for the Global Warming Hoax, etc.?

  2. Anonymous above: Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    The details are deliberately "thin" regarding book content so as not to "ruin the movie" for the next guy.

    I didn't say he mentioned the moral imperative at the end -... What I said was that the Moral Imperative for Life was offered as a means toward an end... that end being improving the human condition.

    Also "questioning our knowledge" having to do with leaving the world a better place:
    Lemme give you an example:
    Suppose you believe the Iraq War was pursued because of "Weapons of Mass Destruction" This may or may not be true. If one takes this as fact and "knows" it to be true - then why question that fact? But the wise person, aware that they may be ignorant, will question these "facts" - leading her to consider alternative explanations. Only by acknowledging that we may not have the answer can we find where we are mistaken - and if we determine we were mistaken about a fact like the Iraq war - perhaps that knowledge will help us prevent making the same mistake again. This would indeed make the world a better place.

  3. On Morality look at

    Moscow, Nezavisimaya Gazeta,
    February 19 1993, p. 8
    “Dictate’s interests are Motor
    Force of History”

    At the time of total scrambling, shooting, earthquakes and food searching, it looks unbelievable that somebody among us just now can discuss and present in a new light the most important problems of human being.

    Who are we? If neither economy nor people, what else the motor force of history? What is the role of the intelligence? Why everywhere criminal world is so easily growing into state structures? What is awaiting us in the future? Is an intelligent global government suggested by Sakharov feasible? Who of thinkers were not worried sometimes by these questions, but is there anybody who care for them now?

    Yes, our turmoil turns out to be just the proper time for these questions. The book of V. Kaitoukov “Evolution of Dictate” – ( in Russian) (published by a Publishing House “Uramos” in Moscow in 1992 on 468 pages) looks like a powerful stream of a fresh wind revealing the global problems of philosophy and is raising hope in the strength of human mind. Applying in the present philosophical treatise the conceptions of Freud, Tolman, Kierkegaard, Hydegger, L. Gumilev, the author synthesized the human knowledge and accumulated experience in an attempt to find out the nature and the essence of dictate, to figure out its most important reasons and the most characteristic forms of manifestation.

    The treatise sheds light on such fundamental questions as; What is the prompting basement and the direct initiation of events? Where are all dictators and executers of all ranges and under different guises (from Dionysian to Mao-Ze, Tang) coming from?

    Why do “common” in all respect persons at a certain social structure turn to be fierce villains or possessed fanatics?

    Where and why is a mass of butchers and informers, revolutionaries of all kinds, elevated victims and indifferent witnesses coming from? Not the less interesting is the question: Why does all of a sudden a certain peace loving nation explosively give birth to a mass of thinkers, or villains, or stoics ready to any ordeals? The philosophical treatise demonstrates explicitly the everywhere penetrating affect of evolving dictate, its most profitable for itself influence on the state ethics and moral, sex and law, external and internal wars, economy and creative intellect, upbringing and education.

    The book of V. Kaitoukov is written not for governing officials (the means of their governing they knows quite well). It comes out to be a Prometeus fire for the orientation in the life of true creators of history, the creative intelligence that is called in the book as contradictate passionaries. The last part of the book covering extrapolations and conclusions looks as if not completely fulfilled, but wealthy main content of the book supplies good material for the further considerations.

    The value of the book is its positioning a person in the center of attention, that allows the author to screen many transit difficulties and problems and extract those that permanently repeat themselves in any state and at any time.

    The book content and the way of its presentation suggest a certain level of readers’ education. Not all of the concepts of the treatise are readily accepted, but profound consideration of the items and good examples from the ancient and current history conceivably demonstrate the correctness of the main thesis suggested by the author.

    In spite of the explicit proving of the concepts, the book seems will be popular neither in this country nor abroad. The book will be avoided with the applications of all possible efforts by those who are unveiled in the book including big and small dictate hierarchs, conductors, accompanying “gray” people, highly promoted and valued by dictate actressing prostitutes, and so on, and from them the author would not get any gratitude.

    The logically proved and historically argued answers to many questions on the global evolution for a long time agitating people and an attraction of attention to a row of important problems of human being make the book of V. Kaitoukov highly advisable to everybody who is searching a firm foundation in the chaos of life and intellegent direction of his activity. May be, educated descendants will recollect our days as the time of the first edition of “Evolution of Dictate”.

    Yu. Stoilov, Ph.D.

  4. Thank you Yu. Stoilov for your contribution - please give me time to absorb your comments and look up the references you so kindly offered.

    I am honored you visited this blog and took the time to comment. Please come back often - your opinions are welcome, appreciated, and encouraged.

  5. Yu. Stoilov,
    I will visit your site mentioned and read it. Is the book available in English?

  6. Yes, the book is available in English at
    Yuri Stoilov

  7. Yes, the book is availavle also at
    and at
    Yuri Stoilov

  8. Do you mean a printed version?
    No, it was not yet published in English.
    Nobody wanted to publish it.
    Yuri Stoilov.

  9. Yuri,

    The translation of the book into English - it's very difficult to read - the translation needs improvement. It isn't doing justice to the content...


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