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Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy [Hardcover]

by Simon Blackburn
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 14, 1999 0192100246 978-0192100245 1
Here at last is a coherent, unintimidating introduction to the challenging and fascinating landscape of Western philosophy. Written expressly for "anyone who believes there are big questions out there, but does not know how to
approach them," Think provides a sound framework for exploring the most basic themes of philosophy, and for understanding how major philosophers have tackled the questions that have pressed themselves most forcefully on human consciousness.

Simon Blackburn, author of the best-selling Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, begins by making a convincing case for the relevance of philosophy and goes on to give the reader a sense of how the great historical figures such as Plato, Hume, Kant, Descartes, and others have approached its central themes. In a lively and accessible style, Blackburn
approaches the nature of human reflection and how we think, or can think, about knowledge, fate, ethics, identity, God, reason, and truth. Each chapter explains a major issue, and gives the reader a self-contained guide through the problems that the philosophers have studied. Because the text approaches these issues from the gound up, the untrained reader will emerge from its pages able to explore other philosophies with greater pleasure and understanding and be able to think--philosophically--for him or herself.

Philosophy is often dismissed as a purely academic discipline with no relation to the "real" world non-philosophers are compelled to inhabit. Think dispels this myth and offers a springboard for all those who want to learn how the basic techniques of thinking shape our virtually every aspect of our existence.

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Blackburn (philosophy, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) has written this book "for people who want to think about the big themesAknowledge, reason, truth, mind, freedom, destiny, identity, God, goodness, justice"Abut, more importantly, to think about them philosophically. His method is to introduce what other philosophersAprimarily Plato, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Leibniz, Hume, and KantAhave had to say about these themes. To make the arguments more understandable to the lay reader, he presents the problem and then makes extensive use of analogies to ordinary situations, thus making the philosophical point more perspicuous. To read this book is to sit down with an engaging, highly learned conversationalist; readers new to the subject could very well be captivated. Highly recommended for academic and public library collections.ALeon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Mgt. Lib., Washington, DC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Sensing that many people are daunted by the big questions in philosophy, university professor Blackburn supplies this primer. Its capital weapon is logic, but Blackburn shrewdly postpones discussing that until he explores such areas as the self, free will, the reality of sensory perception, and God. Doubt, either initially or continually, infuses anyone who reflects on those spheres, and Blackburn illustrates ways to begin thinking about them by using the example of Descartes. Descartes gave yes answers to the question of whether the four spheres exist or not, through a logical process with which, after Blackburn has mapped it out, one can agree or not. One spoil sport was eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume, and Blackburn deploys further disputations of Descartes' beliefs, as in mind-body dualism. Blackburn does, however, subscribe to a species of free will, which he describes as "revised compatibilism." Finding out its definition is sufficient reason to consult Blackburn's book, written with exemplary concision and with conviction that philosophy needn't be an ethereal subject, alienated from practical concerns. Gilbert Taylor

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (October 14, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192100246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192100245
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
188 of 204 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars okay for a first book January 2, 2002
Format:Hardcover
There seem to be two main kinds of "introduction to philosophy" books out there. The first kind, like Anthony Gottlieb's The Dream of Reason, Will Durant's Story of Philosophy, and Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy, are not actually introductions to philosophy but introductions to the history of philosophy. After reading several of these I have become convinced that while they have their place, they are not a good introduction to philosophy. When was the last time you took an introductory science class that focused on the history of science rather than science itself?
The second kind of introduction is unfortunately much rarer. This kind attempts to explain the ideas that philosophy attacks and some of the arguments surrounding the various theses. Anthony Flew's Introduction to Western Philosophy is one of these (unfortunately it also suffers from a perverse desire to keep some kind of chronological narrative and is far too dense for an introduction). Simon Blackburn's Think is yet another. I think this is a much more fruitful approach for someone actually interested in an introduction to philosophy rather than merely learning how to drop names at parties to sound educated.
Think has much to commend it. It clearly delineates a number of key topics. It attempts to show a back and forth of the various ideas held on these topics. For the most part, the writing is light, the explanations easy to understand. There are a number of brief excerpts from actual source material along with commentary on them to help us understand what is meant and how it might fit in to the modern world.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making philosophy relevant February 4, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Neither a history of philosophy nor a dry, scholarly work, Simon Blackburn's book will appeal to those who have some knowledge of the subject and want an up-to-date primer on the big questions in philosophy. Using references to and quotations from the 'big names', Blackburn nevertheless ensures that the topics are always related to real life (including a hilarious reference to Microsoft when discussing the Problem of Evil), showing both the contemporary relevance of philosophy, and the current 'consensus' on the topics in question. A must read for non-philosophers interested in philosophy, or anyone interested in rejecting the 'unexamined life'.
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86 of 95 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't let that first review keep you from this book! January 24, 2000
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was looking for a "primer" on philosophy...who said what, when and so on. Though this wasn't the book I was looking for, I found it engrossing and interesting.
After trying to wade through Durant's pompous prose in "A Story of Philosophy," Blackburn's straightforward style was very refreshing. Like a good novel, I couldn't put it down and sometimes jumped to the end of the end of a chapter just to peek at the author's conclusion. Blackburn never really gave definitive answers to life's great questions, but that made it even more satisfying.
For a novice, like myself, the terminology was a little confusing and I'm still not sure who was associated with what school of thought (I wish I had had his dictionary to read along with this), but it left me wanting to know and read more.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not an Idiot's Guide to Philosophy August 6, 2001
By Zeldock
Format:Hardcover
Blackburn takes a different approach to introducing philosophy: rather than provide a chronological survey (a la Will Durant) or a cartoon-&-sidebar summary (a la the Dummies and Idiot books), he focuses on eight of the most important philosophical problems and invites the reader to work through them, with the author's help and guidance from some of the leading thinkers in the Western tradition. He is by and large successful in this effort, pitching his discussion to the "intelligent" beginner. By the end of the book, you have both observed philosophers at work and taken a crack at philosophy yourself.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable introduction to philosophy's main haunts August 21, 2000
By Peter
Format:Hardcover
This is a thoughtful, easy to follow book introducing some of the major topics of philosophical thought.
The author does not go into a great deal of depth on any particular area, and mixes his own interpretation and opinions in with that of the greats. This makes for an easy read and successfully perked my curiosity to find out more.
If you want a solid, thorough treatment of the topic you would be best looking elsewhere. On the other hand, if you are interested in some of philosophy's big questions and need something to ponder then this is an enjoyable read.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking is not as easy as it once was December 2, 2002
Format:Hardcover
Blackburn has written this book as a defense of philosophy as a practical tool for making sense of the world in which we live. To be perfectly frank making sense of the world is a relatively difficult task.
Rather than discuss the history of philosophy Mr. Blackburn turns his attention to the topics of philosophy: Does free exist, is there a god, how do we know what we know.
Over its two thousand year-history, the philosophical tradition hasn't come a long way toward answering these big questions. What it has done, however, is give thinkers methods for revealing obvious fallacies in a whole range of arguments.
"Think" is designed to give the general reader access to some of the methods and ideas developed by thinkers from Descartes onward. What the book does not do is give the reader any prefabricated answers to these Big questions. Mr. Blackburn is less interested in giving us the answers than he is in showing us how to approach the questions. Although he occasionally offers his own opinion, he is careful to show that there is no easy way to access philosophical truth.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to philosophy
As promised, the author covers a wide scope of topics in a fairly well-ordered manner. I am just beginning to explore philosophy and found the book fairly digestible though it did... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Lucinacharity
5.0 out of 5 stars The title says all
This is indeed a very compelling introduction to philosophy. It begins with the question of Cartesian doubt and from that it goes on and on debating the most of main branches of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lilyp
4.0 out of 5 stars Good condition
Came in good condition and served it's purpose well. This wasn't really for me, but she seemed satisfied with the purchase!
Published 3 months ago by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Philosophy Starter
"Think" helps you retrain your brain. It's a robust but accessible foray into the world of philosophy that is well-suited for everyone above a 9th grade reading level. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kevin Noemer
4.0 out of 5 stars Time well spent
When trying to understand more about ourselves and the world, the study of philosophy presents itself as a reasonable approach. This can be tackled in a couple of ways. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Scot Potts
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Introduction to Philosophy
Simon Blackburn's Think is an introduction to contemporary philosophy. He takes the reader through all the big areas: epistemology, ethics, mind-body interaction, free will et al. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Stevie Jake
5.0 out of 5 stars Think Compelling Introduction
i love how the book was treated, looks almost new thanks :) i just didn't think the book was small. thanks for the book though i really like it. :)
Published 15 months ago by Nancy Pereyra
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book!
I picked up Blackburn's "think" off the shelf out of pure curiosity, nevertheless this book opened many doors to new ideas. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Gld14
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book,
Read it in class and it is so much more than a college book. This is really interesting for anyone
Published 16 months ago by E. Gat
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice book
I've tried textbooks as loose leaf and this one as a kindle book, but I've decided bound books are still the way to go at least for textbooks. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jim in Columbus
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