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Connections to the World: The Basic Concepts of Philosophy Paperback – March 31, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Reading Connections to the World is like ascending the stairs of an observatory and listening to an astronomer explain the latest theories of cosmology. Philosopher Arthur Danto turns his telescope on the distant notions of appearance and reality and explains how they have shaped certain key philosophical debates, especially in regard to knowledge, mind, language, and causation. His writing is so clear and free of philosophical jargon that readers imperceptibly finds themselves beyond just an introduction and on the very forefront of modern philosophy. Unusual in a philosopher, Danto has a knack for getting right to the point and never weighs down his writing with impressive words or outworn theories.

From Publishers Weekly

Philosopher-teacher Danto is an adroit guide through the thickets of contemporary philosophy. First, he defines our connections to the universe in terms of three basic elements: the subject, his or her representation of the world and the world itself. Using this formula as a yardstick, he gauges the approaches taken by various schools and thinkers to problems of morality, knowledge, the concept of the person, language and meaning. The reader engages in a dialogue with Kant, Wittgenstein, Plato, neurophilosophers, behaviorists. Danto demonstrates how the "vehicles of understanding" philosophers usesymbols, images, ideas, propositionsare crucial to their modes of thought. Professor at Columbia University and art critic for the Nation , he peppers his sometimes difficult discourse with down-to-earth examples drawn from Samuel Johnson, Marcel Duchamp, Superman and Kafka. His disquisition points up a dilemma: many problems with which modern thinkers grapple rest on archaic categories they now repudiate.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition, With a new preface edition (March 31, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520208420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520208421
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,210,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By AmazonJunkie on July 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Many books that are focused on basic philosophical concepts can become tedious and wordy to the everyday reader and oftentimes read as if they were a dull textbook introduction to "Philosophy 101". In fact, even a Philosophy Major can get a bit tired of such writings. However, Danto's writing style is clear and fluid with a broad description of the major problems of metaphysics and epistemology. His style is eloquent and literary which is a refreshing change from some of the more commonly encountered tedium. This all-encompassing text is divided into four parts, with each part broken into chapters or sections with articles on a wide range of relevant philosophical topics. Some of them include: The Intelligibility of the World, Totalistic Thought, The Notion of Existence, and Mental Causation. I find myself referring back to this book for its articulate explanations of some of the more esoteric concepts. If you are looking for a somewhat easier to read introduction to the major ideas in Western philosophical thought, this book is a nice first choice.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kent Erickson on July 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Dr. Danto has provided a nicely balanced, well-written overview of the fundamental concepts of Philosophy. This volume offers rich historical context by comparing and contrasting familiar views of both the ancients and contemporary thinkers while incorporating Danto's own perspective. This book is enjoyable to read and accessible to most anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bronx book nerd VINE VOICE on October 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Arthur Danto's book is not only a high-level overview of the major concepts of philosophy, but also a serious internal reflection of philosophy itself. Danto covers the usual basics - Plato's cavemen thinking that shadows are reality; Descartes disruption of classical philosophy with his challenge of epistemology; Hume's challenge to the belief in cause and effect. Danto treats each subject at a level above the usual summary as he links in beautiful prose the various concepts and philosophical epochs and protagonists. His skillful use of metaphor is at times poetic, and the reader feels as if he is reading something other than an overview of philosophy, but rather literature of the highest order. Alas, this never seems to last in any philosophy book, as eventually the difficult topics can bring even the best writing to a grinding halt, and this does happen in sufficient length here to make the reader wish for a college introductory textbook. Nevertheless, the book is filled with eye opening insights. For me, there were three major revelations: 1) that unlike science, typically, each new finding in philosophy is a refutation of everything that went on before, so that somehow all the greats that preceded somehow missed some kernel of truth that basically puts their thought in the dustbin; 2) that to answer one question in philosophy is to answer every question in philosophy, as all necessarily hangs together; 3)Danto also provides a sort of confession for the profession: almost all philosophical epidemiological systems have little if any impact on how anyone lives their lives: whether one is a rationalist, an idealist, an empiricist or a "cist" of any other kind, the garbage still smells, you wake up in the morning with blurry eyes, etc. It is almost an admission that this type of thinking is pointless. I don't know that I agree with him as I think pragmatism would suggest otherwise, but I am not sure.
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