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Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline Hardcover – January 22, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (January 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691124264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691124261
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,243,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part of a trilogy of posthumous anthologies of Williams's writing, this miscellany assembles 17 otherwise unrelated, uncollected and, in two cases, unpublished essays by one of Britain's most prominent modern philosophers. Drawing on the entirety of Williams's 50-year career, the volume charts a rough progression from early exercises of Williams's nimble intelligence on specific metaphysics, epistemology and ethics questions (how religious language embodies an argument about the comprehensibility of articles of faith; the structure and merit of R.M. Hare's Moral Thinking) to a veteran's expansive and provocative musings on the proper scope and future of philosophy as a discipline. Many essays address issues Williams did not treat at book length but fit into the prism of his lifelong concerns-rejecting scientific objectivity as a legitimate goal for philosophy, focusing on the historical development of modern ethical values and arguing individual action can only be motivated by internal desires, preferences and evaluations. If Williams occasionally belabors the obvious or follows a tangent of questionable interest, his insight and erudition ultimately enliven nearly every question he takes up, even when he is writing outside his areas of greatest expertise. Students of philosophy will find this cross-section of the breadth of his achievement inspiring, although the lack of an overarching argument or single unifying theme means general readers or those seeking an introduction to Williams's philosophy will be better served by Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy or Shame and Necessity.
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"[Williams emphasized] the role of the local and the historical, the need for philosophy to 'sound right.' One ends Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline wishing that he had another decade both to do the sort of philosophy that 'sounds right' and to tell us more about what made it sound so."--Alan Ryan, New York Review of Books

"[Williams's books] reveal just how challenging, and how enjoyable, really imaginative philosophy can be."--Simon Blackburn, New Republic

"Editor A.W. Moore . . . has certainly done the scholarly world a service. . . . Williams is a virtuoso practitioner and questioner of philosophy. His task is both positive and negative: positive in that he seeks to carve out a place for distinctively philosophical contributions to human knowledge and well-being (where these contributions are indeed peculiarly philosophical and not scientific), and negative in that he is concerned with the limited nature of these contributions."--Choice

"[T]his superb collection of essays further demonstrates Williams's greatness as not only a multitalented philosopher but also a human one. More important, it appropriately honours his philosophical legacy by offering essays that span his entire career."--The Philosopher's Magazine

"His departure from our scene is our loss; we can only be thankful that collections such as this allow discussion with him to continue."--Alan Montefiore, Philosophy

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Williams is a philosopher' philosopher. Primarily known for his work in ethics, his range is phenomenal. One minute he will make some off-hand comment on Marx, and the next an analysis of an epoch in Wittgenstein's intellectual development. Anything that Williams writes is worth reading, and more than once.
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