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Making Sense: Philosophy behind the Headlines 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192805065
ISBN-10: 0192805061
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A book that uses the techniques and theories of Western philosophy as a way to gain insight into current affairs has the potential to be dry as a piece of unbuttered white toast, but Baggini has penned a wonderfully accessible volume of just that sort. Founding editor of The Philosophers' Magazine, Baggini brings the writings of Nietzsche, Jeremy Bentham (who memorably remarked that the notion of natural rights was "nonsense on stilts") and John Stuart Mill to bear on an engaging analysis of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair and the role of ethics in private and public life. Genetically modified food, euthanasia, the role of science in society and even the nature of truth are all subjected to Baggini's rigorous yet readable investigation. Readers will no doubt disagree with some of his conclusions-such as when he asserts, via Kierkegaard, that religious faith should be a "terrifying leap" rather than a "soothing panacea"-but that's part of the whole point. As he writes in his introduction, "I do not intend this book as the last word but as an invitation for more philosophizing to begin."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"The best popular primer I've seen on the foundations of humanist thought...Entertaining and useful...The reader is able to learn about freedom and its limits, different concepts of equality, pacifism and just war theory, ways to determine harm to the environment, the problem of assigning value, the issues of faith versus reason as well as 'cults' versus established religions, and arguments for establishing the validity of science."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192805061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192805065
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.1 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,715,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Luciano Lupini on November 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Julian Baggini, editor of The Philosopher's Magazine, has written a wonderful contribution, for the layman. One that enables us to easily understand, from a practical standpoint, the central issues of modern philosophy. This is a very well written and readable book. It dwells with the concepts and meaning of war, morality, faith, truth, amongst other, from a philosopher's perspective. At the same time, the author clearly teaches how everybody can utilize the techniques of the philosophers in order to better grasp the meaning of the issues that invade the mind of the human being in these confuse times. Who should read this book ? Anybody concerned about the problems we find reflected and discussed in the media everyday. Drugs, science, nature, moral relativism are discussed in a manner that truly reflects the effort made by the author to dismiss the "nonsense talked about the relationship between philosophy and the concerns of real life" (Introduction) . So, if you are after a fresh approach to the relationship between philosophy and the central issues of our society, this is a book you would not want to overlook.......
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Format: Hardcover
Julian Baggini has written a philosophical guide to making sense of the world, the news and current events that is highly readable and logical. His approach is to spur one's thinking as one peruses the actions of the press, governments, science and popular and current beliefs. He applies philosophy to the meaning of values and judgments and ultimately to the meaning of life. His approach is quite low key and dare one say "sensible"?

This is the type of book to keep on one's library shelf and dip into when the headlines and actions of the world make your head spin. I found it calming and fascinating. So much of current events seem to be dictated by a hardening, inflexible mindset, whether right or left, that it is refreshing to read an objective guide.
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Format: Paperback
Julian Baggini is a near-genius when it comes to making philosophy accessible, interesting, relevant, and entertaining, and those qualities are nowhere in much greater evidence than they are in "Making Sense." Baggini uses headlines (that were current within the past decade or so, but include aging examples related to, say, Bill Clinton's sex scandal) as a launching pad to explore questions about knowledge, ethics, the media, ideals, politics...a range of issues that he masterfully ties to key philosophical concepts. And while Baggini has some favorite philosophers for sure (Hume comes up a lot...but of course he's among many folks' favorite philosophers), he draws from a pretty wide range of Western philosophical influences. He has a knack for finding and presenting provocative and sometimes amusing quotations from the likes of Ayers or Wittgenstein, often to startling effect.

I was especially pleased by the early chapters that explore the idea of epistemology, how we think we can know what we think we know. His deconstruction of relativism is brief, colloquial, and highly potent. I wish every New Ager and politically correct liberal could read it so we could start getting rid of this "It's true for you" nonsense that fuzzes up attempts at discussion.

If you haven't discovered Baggini by now, "Making Sense" is a good introduction, and I have little doubt that when you finish it, you'll be checking back to see what other books of his you might enjoy. My experience to date has been universally positive and I owe Baggini a debt when it comes to how I think about thinking.
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Format: Paperback
This book was published in 2002 so the "headlines" are slightly dated. The thinking behind the headlines, however, are timely and relevant. This book teaches how you should do critical thinking and proper investigation before leaping to conclusions. During these critical times concerning the economy, healthcare, immigration issues, and secuity it would be wise to think before you talk.
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Format: Paperback
According to psychologist Abraham Maslow there is hierarchy of human needs. At the bottom we find material and physical needs for our basic existence. In the middle come needs for relationships, personal and social. At the top comes needs for personal growth etc.
Indeed, according to Baggini, ''it is not only intellectuals who have intellectual needs. All have. The reason you might be reading this book is because you have some kind of need for intellectual stimulation.''
And sure, Baggini does a good job in applying philosophy to news-stories from the recent past. But something is missing: The intellectual ''kick'', which might have made you look at these news-stories in a completely new way. But, instead of exciting revelations to meet your ''Maslowian needs'' you get run-of-the-mill philosophy that you can hardly disagree with.
Could be worse, but it could also have been better.

-Simon
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