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Customer Review

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars necessary, but not sufficient, July 23, 2000
This review is from: The Truth About Everything: An Irreverent History of Philosophy : With Illustrations (Hardcover)
This book is right about many things, but wrong about some important things. Philosophy certainly has a lot of sacred cows in need of skewering, and Stewart does an admirable job of satirizing popular (and academic) notions of just what philosophy is...however, even he admits in the end that his critique is not only inadequate but somewhat ironically self-refuting...and his exclusive attention to the metaphysical and epistemological traditions leaves out pretty much everything written in ethics, political theory, and aesthetics, all of which are certainly central to philosophy. I find this strange and hypocritical for someone who admonishes us to teach philosophy as a part of other disciplines, rather than as a discipline in its own right. His treatment of certain areas--Kant's ethics, the American pragmatists--is brief and inadequate, and one gets the feeling that the author is out of his league in certain areas (not surprising, since he does try to cover all the big names to at least some degree). But then I'm not sure how seriously the author wishes us to take him...in the end, his closing words of advice "be responsible! be good! be true to yourself!" only beg the questions philosophy wishes to answer: Why should we be good? Why should we be responsible? Why should we be true to ourselves? More importantly, just how does one act good, responsible, stay true to one's self, etc...I get the feeling the author doesn't think these are particularly philosophical questions. But they are--and that's the point. I'm all for recognizing that philosophy isn't merely something professors do at college--it's something we all do, every day. But then, we should take such questions as seriously as possible. So what exactly is it the philosophers are doing wrong? Still, an enjoyable read, and educational, for philosophers of all kinds, whether professional or amateur.
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