11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I'm a college student and was required to buy this book (among several) for my Intro to Philosophy class. As soon as the semester was over I did what I always do: sell the text books back to the campus book store. As I went on to other classes I began to regret selling back this book. I'm a few weeks into "Humanities in Western Tradition I, and I'm currently reading just fragments of what can be found in this book. After I get done with an assignment, I want to read further and if I had kept this book I could do that. So I'm buying it again...for the last time.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Why buy this anthology or adopt it for your class? It is about as extensive a collection of many of the most significant works of the most significant Western philosophers. Included are selections from Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Epictetus, Sextus Empiricus, Augustine, Plotinus, Boethius, Anselm. Maimonides, Aquinas, Gersonides, Ockham, Descrates, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Mill, Nietzsche, Peirce, James, Russell, Husserl, Sartre, Wittgenstein, and J.L. Austin. Moreover, the selections from these philosophers are not short snippets, but significant chunks of their various works. The Seventh Edition contains 1,238 pages of mostly two-column, fairly small print copy. I'm not aware of an anthology that has more content than has the one that Steven Cahn has compiled.
Plus, the price is right. With many college texts selling in the $100 to $150 price range, finding one that retails for well under $50 (according to the current Amazon listing) makes it a steal. And, unlike some anthologies, where each new edition represents a radical revision to previous editions (done primarily so that students have to buy the newest edition, which means more sales and more profits for the publishers), the changes from one edition to the next are such as to permit the use of a previous edition by the student.
So, why not give this book five stars? Or, to put this differently, "Why you shouldn't adopt this anthology for your class." If the class is an upper-division course in the history of philosophy, this anthology makes sense as a primary-source supplement. However, if you are teaching an introduction to philosophy class (unless you happen to be fortunate enough to be teaching at an Ivy League school or its equivalent), the material is too advanced for most college freshmen or sophomores. (This is not a negative reflection on the material, the students themselves, or their long-suffering teachers, but rather on the quality of instruction provided by most public and even many parochial and other private schools.)
The overview given prior to each philosopher's writings is extremely brief and simply does not prepare the student for what he or she will find in the works themselves. (For example, the selections from Plato cover 175 pages. The introductory material, which briefly explains some of the most basic concepts in Plato's thoughts, is a mere one and a half pages.) Because understanding philosophical arguments requires a certain amount of adeptness in critical thinking, most students are going to be lost as they read through the texts. The department in the school where I have taught philosophy for nearly twenty years adopted Cahn's anthology as the text for all introductory sections more than a decade ago. I soon found myself using my own material as a way of familiarizing the students with the philosophers we studied rather than relying on Cahn's anthology to give them a clue.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
An absolutely wonderful collection of works without any waste. I had an older copy that I was over half way through with notes and such. Sadly I lost it. Gladly, however, I get to revisit some great works and begin a few new ones.