Customer Reviews: Introducing Philosophy: A Graphic Guide
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on January 19, 2005
For a long time I have looked for a one-page reference that could show me all the major philosophers, a quick sound bite about what each of them believed, and which school of philosophy each of them belonged to. This book has that on the last page. The addition of this little gem to what is already a great reference material for a basic understanding of philosophy earns this book 5 stars. If you are like me and would like to know something about everything (not everything about something) this book will serve you well.
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on August 23, 2003
Passing through my daughter's college bookstore I came across "Introducing Philosophy." Since I knew my younger son had a summer assignment which involved studing classical and Renaissance authors, I thought this book would be a great foundation. I read the first 67 pages on the plane returning home from my daughter's university, and couldn't wait to read the rest of the book. I haven't finished it yet, because my son is reading it and he says it's "crystal clear" and is helping him with his assignment---SCORE!!!!
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INTRODUCING PHILOSOPHY, like all installments of the "Introducing..." series published by Totem Books, seeks to present academic subjects in a fun way by supplementing the text of an educator in the field with amusing pictures by an illustrator. Here Dave Robinson has written the text, and Judy Groves has produced the drawings.

The book generally introduces philosophy by presenting the "big questions" and then showing how various philosophers from ancient Greece to the present have answered them or, in some cases, have replaced them with even more pressing questions. The authors try to cover all major fields of philosopy, but epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy predominate, with philosophy of religion dropped after the discussion of Scholasticism, and aesthetics missing entirely.

INTRODUCING PHILOSOPHY's coverage is quite superficial, giving only a page to some major figures and not really getting to the point of what e.g. Parmenides thought. The authors also do not explain to the layman why the work of Derrida was so controversial within the academy. All in all, someone interested in the subject would be better off using Nigel Warburton's Philosophy: The Basics (Routledge, 2004) which is by no means perfect, but which is both rigorous and friendly.

Nonetheless, INRODUCING PHILOSOPHY can be a useful companion to other books for the attention it gives to less well-known figures. C.S. Peirce, W.V. Quine, Gottlob Frege are rarely presented in undergraduate basic philosophy courses, but they have some fascinating ideas I was inspired to read more about.
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I have had a passion for philosophy most of my life. I have taken numerous college level courses and read numerous books on philosophy over years. I had read several of these “Introducing guide series” in the past and found them to be very interesting and informative. I recently purchased this volume (Introducing Philosophy: A graphic guide by Dave Robinson and Judy Groves) and found it to be an excellent basic guide to most of the main philosophers and their theories.

I love the way this graphic guide is organized beginning with a brief explanation of the branches of philosophy such as Epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics and political philosophy. The book goes on to explain that the Greeks invented philosophy but no one really knows why. All the main philosophers and their contribution to thinking, logic and mathematics are covered in this book. Socrates, who taught to question everything, Plato, whose idea of “Philosopher Kings” which in reality was the basis for the development later in history of socialism and communism, Aristotle, whose theories on reason and logic paved the way for science, Heraclitus, who came up with the theory that the only thing permanent is change and why you cannot step in the same river twice.

This 176 page volume is surprisingly detailed and is a fantastic basic introduction to the basic principles of philosophy.

Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Tactical Principles of the most combative systems.)
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on July 2, 2001
This book gives a good feel for the major Western philosophers ranging from the ancient Greeks to Descartes, Hume, Hegel and Kant to Nietzsche, Marx, Feuerbach, Dewey and Sartre and how they have investigated epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics and political forms. If you don't grasp everything completely don't worry; some of these fellows, particularly the post-modernists, need to be operated on by Ockham's razor.
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on May 25, 2010
This is a quick and dirty introduction to Philosophy. It defines the primary questions of philosophy as: What is the nature of reality? What makes humans special? What is mind or consciousness? Can we be certain of anything? What is a valid argument? How should we behave towards each other? And: How should society be organized? Philosophy, the author tells us is a discipline organized to pursue answers to these and many similar questions. The major subcategories of the discipline are: Epistemology (questions about knowledge), Metaphysics (questions about the nature of time, space, god, cause, reality), Ethics (questions about good and evil), Aesthetics (questions about art and beauty), and political philosophy (questions about the organization of society). How these questions are pursued, has to do with methodology, the tools used to answer the questions.

Some believe that answers should evolve out of debate: that is out of the mechanics and art of how to ask questions properly. Others believe that "thinking about thinking" and questioning everything is the best tool. The book of course does not take sides on this important issues but proceeds to delve into the history and personalities of Philosophy beginning with the Egyptians who were good mathematicians but poor philosophers. But it then moves on to the Greeks who, at least in the Western World, are the acknowledged inventors of philosophy. They did this of course by challenging the worldview of religion. It was the Greeks who first refused to believe that religious answers were all there was to reality. They wanted to know what reality was made of? The preliminary answer they got was that it was made of air, fire, earth and water. Pythagoras however believed that mathematics held the secret to reality. And then, before the pre-Socratic era ended, came the "atomists," who believed that all matter could be "reduced" or broken down into ever smaller constituent components until the smallest possible, the atom was reached.

However, it was Socrates who believed that wisdom was a skill that could be taught and that virtue is knowledge, and who formally introduced thinking as a methodology. He and his contemporaries wrestled with questions such as "If we believe different things, how do we determine who is correct?" Ultimately, it was Socrates' view that man had to question everything, especially authority that got him condemned to death by "democrats" who forced him to drink hemlock. Despite this, it was his student Plato, who advanced the techniques of using "thinking about thinking" as the ultimate tool of philosophy. Through dialogue using a series of nested questions deductible from a central premise, Plato was able to prove that thought was indeed the ultimate instrument for answering the questions that revealed the underlying truths of philosophy. He also introduced the idea of ideal forms and most famously, the parable of the cave, in which reality was seen to be indistinguishable from a reflection of man's experiences depicted as shadows on a cave wall: Man was imprisoned by his experiences, which were little more than images on a cave wall.

It would take Aristotle to advance the ideas of both Socrates and Plato by formally linking philosophy to the tools of logic, that is, to inferences, both deductive and inductive. Arguments based on logic, propelled philosophy into a new era that has lasted for more than two millennia. And while there have been challengers, mostly from religion (the Stoics, the Epicureans, Skeptics, cynics, etc.), Aristotle's methods lasted until Rene Descartes' "Discourse on Method" introduced a way of further formalizing the systematization of knowledge. With a few procedural rules, and his most famous utterance "cogito ergo sum," Descartes used "doubt" as the new instrument that would lead philosophy into a new era of scientific thinking and methodology. After Descartes' Cartesian analysis of mind and body, philosophy was irrevocably changed. The battle between science and religion was finally brought out into the open and science was finally beginning to hold its own. There was hand-to-hand combat down the ages between the metaphysicians and the scientists up until the modern era of philosophy.

And although there was quite a bit of "backtracking," today the background noise of those arguments can still be heard and felt. Even today, in the quantum physical world, the question of what constitutes reality still remains the centerpiece of philosophical discussions. However, in the modern era new problems have arisen about the nature of knowledge and indeed meaning itself. Language is consistently being implicated as the saga continues ...
For a $7.00 book I guarantee that the reader is sure to get more than his money's worth. Five stars.
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on July 25, 2014
I was hoping for a philosophy primer for my precocious ten year old niece. This is not may be illustrated, but it would be over her head. Maybe in a few years.

Reading it myself I was not pleased with the illustrations, and found the summations on each page incomprehensible. Still, halfway through, it seemed to become more clear or maybe got into philosophies more familiar or palatable to me. I started installing bookmarks to indicate philosophies to delve into more later, and it became nearly every page. SO I think this little pocket guide accomplished a worthwhile purpose.
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on July 16, 1999
even if you're wel-versed in philosophy, this is such a neat compilation of succinct right on capsules of the greatest thinkers, that it can jog the minds of those of us who know it all, but can't recall it like we used to.
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on May 28, 2012
Maybe a tad wordy for a comic-style book (or perhaps would simply benefit from larger artwork/pages), this was nevertheless a pretty interesting general overview of the history of philosophical thought that didn't require me to slog through dozens of text books. My overall retention isn't great when covering a ton of philosophers for an average of a paragraph or two each, but I did get a feel for where we've come from.

Actually, if I learned anything it's that most of philosophy's history has been one person disproving (or trying to disprove) the last all the way up to the 19th century or so, when thinkers began formulating some of the first concepts that still could be considered relevant today. So maybe I can thank this book for keeping me from reading countless books on philosophies that I wouldn't consider applicable to modern life (not that there's anything wrong with that, but I have no interest in being a student of philosophy, I'm more interested in real-world applicable concepts).
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on April 27, 2003
This is an excellent introduction to the history and great minds of western philosophy. Even if you are not new to philosophical writing you will enjoy this book since it avoids "wordiness" so many other books in this area are guilty of.
My only complaint about the book was the awful artwork that lends little or nothing to the information being presented. Between the amateurish drawings and the pictures of the moronic looking punk girl I found it really distracting to the overall flow of this outstanding book.
The book is still a great deal, and worth every penny to someone interested in thinking deeper.
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