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The Oxford Companion to Philosophy New Edition Hardcover – May 26, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–Opening with a stimulating preface (Philosophy thrives….It is only the sciences and the superstitions that come and go), Honderich presents this considerably revised and expanded update of his 1995 edition as a resource that will be equally useful to scholars and to general readers. Now including more than 2200 alphabetically arranged entries from nearly 300 contributors, it provides an encyclopedic view of philosophy's past and present, its ideas, disputes (the editor himself contributes an article on unlikely philosophical propositions), and key figures, living and dead. The articles range in length from several sentence definitions to meaty topical and biographical essays of several pages. Each concludes with a list of references; a scattered few are illustrated. A massive index backs up frequent cross-references to enhance ease of access. Back matter includes a time line and an absorbing series of maps, or schematic diagrams, of types and schools of philosophy. More extensive in scope and level of detail than the Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1999), this title makes an excellent companion for standard multivolume subject encyclopedias, and will serve college-bound students and beyond well for both quick reference and sustained enquiry.–John Peters, New York Public Library
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From Booklist

"The brave, large aim of this book," boasts editor Honderich, as he did of the 1995 first edition, "has been to bring philosophy together between two covers better than ever before." That is a lofty goal indeed, given such outstanding competition as The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (1999), Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy(2000), and The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2005). The latter two are abridgements of the 10-volume Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998). What all have in common are alphabetical arrangement, 2,000 or so articles of varying length by hundreds of experts, and an emphasis on the Western philosophical tradition beginning with the pre-Socratics and culminating in twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy while still making room for the continental and non-Western philosophical traditions. All have considerable complementary differences in terms of authors and entries.

As with the first edition, Honderich has provided a reference work of both great value and pleasurable reading. He has allowed authors to show their idiosyncrasies, perhaps nowhere more so than in his own mind-twisting entry on Unlikely philosophical propositions. Some 300 new entries (including Animal consciousness, Cloning, and Corporate responsibility) have been added. Many others have been revised, lengthened, or updated. The distinguished list of contributors has increased from 249 to 291. Subjects range from paragraph-length entries on philosophers (some of whom are represented in the handful of illustrations) and concepts to entries of several thousand words on 20 or so giants of Western philosophy, aspects of the major branches of philosophy, and various national philosophies. There are entries for some 150 contemporary philosophers. Each entry is followed by a reference list. Adding value are appendixes of logical symbols, maps of philosophy showing hierarchical relationships, and a chronology of philosophy with contemporaneous figures and events in the facing column. The index is composed almost entirely of main-entry headings with lists of entries that are related.

This volume is highly recommended for academic, public, and high-school library reference collections and for philosophically curious browsers. For libraries looking for a work more uniformly accessible to the uninitiated, Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a better choice. Craig Bunch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1076 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (May 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199264791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199264797
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 2 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This extraordinary book is an exemplar of the "weighty tome" so beloved by lovers of knowledge; and that is certainly appropriate since it is billed as a "companion to philosophy." A "companion," as editor Ted Honderich notes in his preface, "is not only a book for diligent readers, to be studied and perhaps labored over..."; nor is it merely "a complete reference book. It is more amiable than that. It diverts. It suits a Sunday morning."

Well, maybe, but that would be a Sunday morning for logical positivists, Wittgenstein linguists, Kierkegaard intellectuals, professional logicians and perhaps child prodigies bored with their deferential calculus homework.

There are 249 contributors, contemporary philosophers, most holding academic positions at prestigious institutions of higher learning throughout the world, who wrote the 2,230 entries arranged alphabetically from "abandonment" (a term used by existential philosophers) to Zoroastrianism (the ancient Persian religion). In-between, the entries range from the whimsical to the esoteric to the downright impenetrable. An example of the whimsical might be "cat, Schrodinger's" from quantum mechanics. An example of the esoteric (as least to my mind) could be the entry on "corpuscularianism"--which I won't attempt to define. As for the downright impenetrable, how about, "logical theory," which, according to Christopher Kirwan of the University of Oxford who wrote the entry, "is best seen as a vaguely delimited and shifting group of problems." (All the entries are signed with the initials of the author who wrote the entry. These contributors are listed near the beginning of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
This work is comparable in many ways to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy: both are modeled on the dictionary format, both are multi-authored, both are very popular, both are in second edition. I have spent many happy hours with both. Each has its excellent and useful entries and each has its mediocre or useless entries. For many purposes they are interchangeable. However, Cambridge charges a little over half of what Oxford wants but the latter is definitely no better. In fact,the logic entries in the Cambridge are uniformly better. The Cambridge entry "Church's thesis" is written by Wilfried Sieg, an accomplished and respected expert in the field. The Oxford entry is by Stewart Shapiro an equally qualified expert. Both imply correctly that Church's thesis is not a proposition admitting of mathematical proof or disproof in the usual sense: it is a proposal to "identify" the pre-theoretic intuitive concept of "effectively calculable function" with the mathematically precise number-theoretic property "recursiveness". But, the Cambridge entry is several times as long the Oxford and it is much more informative concerning the historical and philosophical importance of Church's thesis. A somewhat different comparision applies to the entries titled "Church Alonzo". Again the Cambridge entry a much longer and much more informative than the Oxford. The Cambridge entry is by John Corcoran, one of the editors of the journal HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF LOGIC, whereas the Oxford entry is by Gregory Mellema, who does not have much of a track record in the field. Both entries are flawed. Toward the end of Corcoran's otherwise accurate piece there is a confusing typographical error: 'Church's thesis' is printed where 'Church's theorem' is clearly meant.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Having gotten tired of going to the campus library to meticulously look up concepts, idealogies, philosophers and terms, I broke down and bought the new edition of the "Oxford Companion to Philosophy." I must say that it has helped me many times to better understand concepts and ideas of many philosophers and has subsequently helped to reduce the time I spent looking things up online or in other books. The entries are very detailed and very well written to explain and elaborate on the details that a student or any person may need clarification on. Since this edition is around 40 dollars I wouldn't buy this book just to have it on your bookshelf but if you are like me and sick of going to the library at night then get this book. It will not only provide a soilid definition but is a great place to start when researching.
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Format: Hardcover
I love this book. It's basically an abriged encyclopedia of philosophy, full of concise explanations about philosophers and philosophical themes. It's not perfect. Each entry is written by a different author, all of them university professors, many of them noted philosophers such as Searle, Singer, or MacIntyre. This necessarily means some entries are better written than others, and from time to time authorial bias seeps through and slants the way a theme or philosopher is presented. Nonetheless, almost every entry I've read has been at least interesting, and many have provided crisp, keen insights in a microscopic amount of space. It has enormous bookshelf value, and I keep it right next to my desk. Kudos to the publishers.
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