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The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (Oxford Paperback Reference) Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0199541430 ISBN-10: 0199541434 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Paperback Reference
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (October 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199541434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199541430
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up–Thanks to clever typography, this revision of the 1994 edition eliminates virtually nothing, adding hundreds of new entries in the same 400 pages with no loss of legibility. Most additions are biographical; under A and B alone, for instance, there are more than 40 such, including Mary Astell, Ghose Aurobindo, Charles Babbage, Abraham Bar Hayya, and Jorge Luis Borgès. More Chinese (ch'eng, yi, zhi, feng shui) and Sanscrit (samadhi, ahamkara) join Latin and German terms, and occasionally a new word (education, wisdom, toxin puzzle, ecofeminism) appears. The time line is also new. This edition will double as a world-religions reference, but its original material is, reassuringly, little changed.–Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Almost 3000 entries-many extensively cross-referenced-cover Eastern and Western philosophy (with emphasis on the latter), all the main subdivisions of philosophy, terminology from other disciplines that is significant in philosophical discussion, and major historical figures. Occasionally, information in a definition coupled with its cross references make the term's meaning unnecessarily murky (e.g., compare the "validity"-"follow"-"entailment" sequence to the definition of "validity" in a standard elementary logic text). Some definitions are idiosyncratic (e.g., that of "straw man"), and some omit something necessary for correctness (e.g., the common knowledge condition in defining D. Lewis's "convention"). On the whole, however, the definitions are clear, correct, and useful, and the subjects of biographical entries are generally chosen sensibly. Blackburn covers more than A.R. Lacey in A Dictionary of Philosophy (Routledge, 1990) and a bit more than Antony Flew in A Dictionary of Philosophy (St. Martin's, 1984. 2d ed.), though Flew is somewhat clearer. Since these three dictionaries have different emphases, they complement one another nicely. Recommended for academic libraries.
Robert Hoffman, York Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He was Edna J. Doury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and from 1969 to 1990 was a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is the author of The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy and the best-selling Think and Being Good, among other books.

Customer Reviews

A better priced, more complete book will be very hard to find.
D. Horan
In short, a valuable supplement to philosophical studies, both for the novice and for the more experienced reader of philosophical texts.
Bradley P. Rich
It's not too big, the definitions are very straightforward, with an easy to read language; very well written indeed.
Boeotian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Bradley P. Rich on May 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Philosophy is, at best, a difficult business. Whether one is a professional philosopher (whatever that means), or a casual reader, any discussion of philosophy requires familiarity with a huge number of specialized terms. A philosophical dictionary allows the reader to quickly ground himself in the vocabulary without losing the train of thought.
The various encyclopedias of philosophy are more comprehensive, but they serve a completely different purpose. If you are looking for in depth analysis, turn to an encyclopedia, but for a quick definition, this volume is perfect. The entries contain just the perfect amount of information. You are quickly gotten up to speed, without bogging down in endless peripheral issues.
In short, a valuable supplement to philosophical studies, both for the novice and for the more experienced reader of philosophical texts.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Professor Blackburn has written a concise, clear, and witty dictionary of philosophical and political terms covering a wide array of traditions, both Eastern and Western. And like all the best reference works, it carries the flavor of an individual author, displaying, here and there, touches of idiosyncratic wit and charm. Many of Blackburn's definitions are masterpieces of concision and fairness--see, for instance, his entry on Nietzsche, which squeezes a century's worth of scholarship into two-and-a-half lucid columns. This delightful book has earned a permanent place on my desktop.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Justin S. Whitaker on July 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I own and have been extremely happy with Oxfords "Dictionary of World Religions" (J. Bower ed.) and was hoping for something similar with Blackburn's dictionary. However, I'm sadly disappointed. Rather than the concise, informative, flowing style of Bowker's work, I find broad generalizations, questions rather than statements and several entries ended in "this is much debated."
Of course, to those completely new to Philosophy this may be far more useful than direct, clear definitions of terms, but to any student of philosophy, this text will soon prove more frustrating than useful.
I would suggest the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, (R. Audi ed.) for a much broader, clearer, (albeit less charming) Dictionary.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rev. Thomas Scarborough on July 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have long referred to the original Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (1994) by Simon Blackburn. At that time, it was almost unique as a one-volume dictionary of philosophy. Especially in more recent years, however, it sometimes seemed to come short. Some crucial entries were missing, e.g. deflationary theories of truth, forms of life, or motivation -- and in particular, postmodern philosophers and postmodern terms.

This has all been addressed eleven years later, so that the 2005/2006 editions do not disappoint. It is surprisingly comprehensive, and it brilliantly encapsulates the core meaning of each entry in readily understandable terms. More obscure entries are cross-referenced to other terms, e.g. axiology, ideal language, or retributive justice.

Blackburn states in his preface that he has sought chiefly to write "through my own interests and judgements", keeping "the likely needs of the user in mind" -- while at the same time seeking to "light up the faculties". I would consider that the end result is a very good mix. One might well find all that one needs in this single volume.

This having been said, Blackburn is not known for his affection for postmodernism. Combined with his own special form of panache, this makes the new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy a humorous read at times. Foucault, he notes, is said to deal with "subject and abject"; Derrida, on being accused of "a tissue of confusions", responded with a "blizzard of text"; while Levinas is "perhaps beyond the limits of intelligibility". I found myself following the postmodern trail just to find the next joke.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on June 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I try to read Philosophy, I really do. It just seems to have a sedative effect on me. I frequently read science books that have significant amounts of Philosophy scattered about. I keep this book right by my side. As opposed to the Oxford Dictionary of Science, this book almost always includes the entry I'm looking for. Since it's common in definitions about philosophy to refer to other terms in philosophy, when the second term is also defined in this book, an asterisk is placed on it. This is quite helpful since I frequently want additional clarification - I'll look up the other word also. Simon Blackburn writes in a nice style and this book has been exactly the ticket for my needs.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. King on April 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Apparently Blackburn's purpose is to provide a dictionary that is helpful to the novice and general reader, and his dictionary admirably succeeds in making the language of philosophy accessible. Although the graduate student and the professional will probably not find the book to be especially useful, much good can come from bringing philosophy to the non-specialist. Oxford University Press should be commended for adding this title to the many books it has published in an effort to bring knowledge to the novice and general reader. Because Blackburn's dictionary meets its objective, this one gets five stars.
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