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From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays, Second Revised Edition
From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays, Second Revised Edition
by Willard Van Orman Quine
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.73
52 used & new from $0.75

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Period Piece, September 19, 2006
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`From a Logical Point of View' originally published in 1953 in a series of essays by W.V.O. Quine. My comments pertain to the 2003 re-release by Harvard University Press which includes the prefaces to both the 1953 and 1980 editions.

The two best known essays from this text, "On What There Is' and `Two Dogmas on Empiricism' have been reprinted in many anthologies over the years. Although Two Dogmas may strike contemporary readers as trivial, coming at the end of the verificationist era, it did have some historic significance and is worth a look for that reason alone. I also enjoyed some of the other essays, e.g. "Reference and Modality" and "Meaning and Existential Inference". Potential buyers may wish to access the on-line table of contents prior to purchasing.

I enjoyed the book - it is a relatively accessible look back at mid twentieth century analytic thought. That said, it is largely a period piece and probably only of interest to dedicated followers of modern analytic philosophy.


Naming and Necessity
Naming and Necessity
by Saul A. Kripke
Edition: Paperback
53 used & new from $2.93

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Analytic Classic, September 15, 2006
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This review is from: Naming and Necessity (Paperback)
Originally published in 1972, Saul Kripke's Naming and Necessity is a compilation of three lectures given by the author in January 1970 at Princeton University. Aside from transcripts of the lectures (with minor editing), the text includes a brief preface and postscript (or agenda as Kripke calls it) with some helpful points of clarification. Kripke is regarded by many as the pre-eminent philosopher of recent times- while Naming and Necessity is widely viewed as the most significant piece of post-Wittgenstein analytic philosophy.

In the book Kripke discussion of a range of issues and questions that has altered the trajectory of modern philosophy including:

* Accidental and essential properties,

* Theories of reference (direct reference v. descriptivist)

* Epistemic and metaphysical necessity (he poses the possibility of necessary a posteriori truth and contingent a priori truth)

Readers unfamiliar (or rusty) with Kripke may find the pertinent chapters in Scott Soames' excellent Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volume 2: The Age of Meaning helpful in preparing to engage Naming and Necessity. The small text `On Kripke' in the Wadsworth series is also useful and even more introductory.

Overall, this is an important work in analytic philosophy that would make a valuable addition to any collection. As with much modern philosophy in the analytic tradition familiarity with the genre and subject matter is a perquisite to fully understanding and appreciating the discussion (that said this book has a nice flow). My comments pertain to the 2005 reprint by Harvard.


Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language: An Elementary Exposition
Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language: An Elementary Exposition
by Saul A. Kripke
Edition: Paperback
Price: $28.50
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, September 12, 2006
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Originally published in 1982, Saul Kripke's Rules and Private Language has become a classic in contemporary analytic philosophy and probably the most notable (if contentious) analysis of Wittgenstein's later work.

As noted by Kripke himself, the work is more an elaboration of Kripke's thoughts in reaction to the Philosophical Investigations, than a truly dedicated attempt to uncover Wittgenstein's perspective. In large part as a result of this bold approach, Kripke comments have become both extremely well known and controversial. Readers unfamiliar (or rusty) with Kripke may find the pertinent chapters in Scott Soames' excellent Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volume 2: The Age of Meaning helpful in preparing for this text.

Overall, I recommend this book to readers of analytic philosophy - it is a relatively quick and enjoyable read. Familiarity with the Philosophical Investigations, however, is likely a prerequisite to understanding and appreciating this text.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2008 12:03 PM PDT


On Kripke (Wadsworth Philosophers)
On Kripke (Wadsworth Philosophers)
by Consuelo Preti
Edition: Paperback
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview, September 12, 2006
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Originally published in 2002, On Kripke is an instalment in the Wadsworth Philosophers Series. From my perspective Consuelo Preti's short work is a good introduction and/or supplement to the study of Saul Kripke. The text is focused on Kripke's work in three primary areas:

* Modal logic

* His seminal work - Naming and Necessity

* Wittgenstein's rules and private language argument

Some instalments in this series have been criticized for poor editing. The present volume in is not bad in this regard - a few too many typos, but generally well organized.


Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volume 2: The Age of Meaning
Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volume 2: The Age of Meaning
by Scott Soames
Edition: Paperback
Price: $39.87
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview, September 8, 2006
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Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century: The Age of Meaning is the second of Scott Soames' two volume series on 20th century analytic philosophy.

These two volumes provide the best overview of analytic philosophy that I have come across. In Vol. 2 Soames discusses the later-Wittgenstein, Quine, Kripke et al (a look at the on-line table of contents may be helpful). He provides insight regarding the context within which these thinkers wrote, as well as an overview and assessment of their key works/ideas. Opposed to the first volume that examines relatively broad thinkers (e.g. Moore and Russell), the current volume is much more in the weeds of mid-twentieth century linguistic philosophy - esoteric hairsplitting that may strike readers from outside of the field as meaningless (and a bit silly).

Overall, the two volumes are of high quality. I recommend them to all students of analytic philosophy. Depending on one's interests volume 2 may not be as appealing as its' predecessor. It should be noted that this is not an introductory text, some background in philosophy is probably required to maximize its' value.


Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism
by John Stuart Mill
Edition: Paperback
Price: $4.99
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confirm Edition, September 6, 2006
This review is from: Utilitarianism (Paperback)
Many of the posted reviews refer to a different version of the text (i.e. Crisp vice Sher)

Sher's version is an inexpensive and accessible (good font size and binding) edition of this classic. It contains the 3 essays (unabridged) use to construct Utilitarianism as well as a speech given by Mill while serving as a British MP in 1868 on capital punishment. Readers should note that aside from a short introduction by George Sher, this edition does not contain any additional analysis. Readers looking for a more detailed discussion will need to look elsewhere. Judging from some of the other reviews it sounds as if Crisp's version may be worthwhile.


Four Views on Hell
Four Views on Hell
by William V. Crockett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.53
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad - Too Narrow, September 6, 2006
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This review is from: Four Views on Hell (Paperback)
This text is an instalment in Zondervan's Four Views series examining various religious and theological issues. The four contributions discuss the nature of Hell.

Walvoord - literal biblical interpretation

Crockett - metaphorical biblical interpretation

Hayes - Catholic purgatory view

Pinnock - Conditional interpretation (finite period of suffering then destruction)

From my perspective this instalment is similar to other contributions in this series - generally solid writing, but within an excessively narrow scope. The book may have been more interesting if Walvoord's and Crockett's pieces were combined and a different view included (e.g. liberal protest, Orthodox or Jewish). Overall, the book is not bad, if a bit narrow.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2007 2:13 PM PDT


The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford Paperbacks)
The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford Paperbacks)
by Frank J. Tipler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $35.00
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 700 Page Pocketbook, August 18, 2006
Published in late 1980s this book discusses what has come to be known as the `anthropic principle'- originally coined by Carter in the 1970's. Barrow and Tippler are physicists and popular science writers.

This anthropic principle has been variously understood, but, in a general sense, it pertains to the relationship between the characteristics of the universe and our existence within the universe - i.e. the universe seems remarkably tuned for human life. A strong formulation of this principle would argue along the lines of "the universe was intended/designed for our type of life". While a weaker formulation would take the tact that these qualities are required in order to produce observers such as ourselves. I applaud the author's ambition in tackling this issue. They make a laudable effort to be comprehensive and attempt to cover the pertinent historic, philosophical and scientific ground.

Unfortunately, the book is too broad, as a result, at times it devolves into a litany of disparate quotes and facts that leaves the reader thinking; so what? Additionally, some of their conjectures (i.e. Final Anthropic Principle), while fun seems a bit too much like science fiction for my tastes. I am unsure of the audience for this text? Readers capable of following the discussion will likely find it superficial and speculative. While those new to this subject may find it to be unhelpful. Someone looking to get the gist of the types of questions addressed in this text is better looking at on-line sources such as Wikipedia (it has limits, but is a better entry point). Additionally, though it may sound trivial the format is unappealing - a 700-page pocketbook - the quotes are vanishingly small! I am unaware of a hard copy version.

Despite the book's limitations, the authors deserve some credit for their pioneering effort. I would, however, not recommend it for the general reader. There are a range of outstanding popular works that cover similar ground more effectively - e.g for those seeking a introduction to some of the broader scientific issues raised, Greene, Ferris are especially good. Whereas the anthropic principle and its ramifications are better handled from a philosophy of religion or science perspective, e.g. Polkinghorne.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2015 7:51 AM PDT


Common Sense (Dover Thrift Editions)
Common Sense (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Thomas Paine
Edition: Paperback
Price: $2.70
227 used & new from $0.01

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Version, August 18, 2006
This is a reprint of Thomas Paine's Common Sense pamphlet originally published in February 1776 (Paine had also published a prior version). Dover does a nice job of maintaining the original stylistics, e.g. spelling, italics, etc. Potential buyers should note that this edition does not contain any contemporary commentary (which is often the case and sometimes helpful), but rather is limited to the original text.

This is an important piece of American historical writing in an accessible (font and binding) and inexpensive format. I recommend it to all readers interested in American history.


Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity
by C. S. Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.69
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Classic of Twentieth Century Christian Apologetics, August 13, 2006
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis was derived from three radio lectures given by the author during the Second World War. Lewis is a well-known mid-twentieth century writer with popular works in a variety of genres; religious fiction, children's fiction, science fiction as well as religion/philosophy.

Mere Christianity remains, probably, the most significant twentieth century Christian apologetic text. Lewis employs what is known as the classic approach to apologetics - starting with a general argument for the existence of God then moving on to make the specific case Christianity. Contrary to an earlier reviewer - this is a general introduction aim at the lay reader. Although all readers can find it helpful, it is not aimed at "intellectuals". Readers seeking more significant philosophical argumentation on these types of issues may want to look at the likes of Plantinga, Craig, Moreland etc.

One small criticism of the book is the last chapter - it has 1940's speculative science fiction feel. Lewis' interest in science fiction; coupled with the progressive view of evolution popular among thinkers at the time makes it feel dated and a bit out of place for an introductory text.

Overall, Mere Christianity is a classic (The audio version is also tremendous). I highly recommend it as a starting point for anyone interested in Christian apologetics. Readers that enjoy this may also like The Screwtape Letters and the Great Divorce also from Lewis.


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