- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 4 edition (March 27, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415534666
- ISBN-13: 978-0415534666
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Philosophy: The Classics 4th Edition
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However, I do think that some prior knowledge or exposure to philosophy is required.
Readers of this book would also like "Jenna's Flaw," a novel about the death of God, the crumbling of Western civilization, and what the West can do to save it.
It began with a decent, accessible overview of Plato and of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. For them (and for each philosopher in the book), Warburton gives an overview of the thinker’s ideas and of basic criticisms to those ideas. The text progresses relatively quickly, it doesn’t bore you and, at first, it is relatively fair.
Then, Warburton begins addressing skeptical or atheistic philosophers, and it becomes clear that his aim is not unbiased. When addressing Hobbes or Locke, Warburton criticizes them for their Christian worldviews, which are not convincing to persons of modern, atheistic presuppositions. Fair enough. It really is not reasonable to expect Hobbes or Locke, in their predominantly Christian contexts, to have laid a foundation for theism. But the fact that their philosophies may not convince people of non-theist presuppositions is fair.
Warburton does not apply the same standard to agnostic or atheistic philosophers, though. Instead, Warburton is generally favorable toward those thinkers, he does not challenge them as unconvincing to theistic minds, and his criticisms of them are relatively superficial.
It’s hard to know where to begin because, by this point of the book, Warburton’s atheistic bias rears its head at almost every turn. Let’s take his treatment of David Hume, for example. He presents as “devastating” Hume’s argument against the design theory for God’s existence. Warburton agrees with Hume because machines like the eye or the human body are not as extensive as systems of machines, like the universe. Leave alone the fact that the eye and the human body are substantially more complex than most man-made machines. What about man-made systems of machines, like factories or cities? Such complex systems would tend to suggest the existence of engineers or city planners. In turn, the complex, fine-tuned system of the universe tends to suggest the existence of a universe planner. This would tend to diffuse Warburton’s praise for Hume, but Warburton either ignores or (less likely) is ignorant of such a basic retort to his position. How, then, is Hume’s position “devastating”?
Warburton also criticizes the design argument because most man-made creations are designed by teams of people, whereas a monotheistic God is only one person. Seriously? If you don’t buy the existence of a monotheistic God, fine; but at least present the argument fairly. If the biblical God exists, the Bible clearly portrays him as immensely superior to any number of humans, and thus to any team of people. Moreover, Warburton deals with anti-theistic arguments generally in the Christian contexts in which philosophers raised them. Is Warburton, though, ignorant of the Christian concept of the Trinity? Given his atheistic presuppositions, I assume Warburton would criticize the Trinity as inexplicable (which, in large part, it is). But here, Warburton criticizes the Christian argument for design because man-made designs usually are the product of collaborative action—the very method (essentially) that the Bible presents for God’s creation through the Trinity.
It’s one thing to agree or disagree with a philosophy. But it’s another thing to feign a relatively neutral presentation of classical philosophies and then retract neutrality (or, perhaps, fail to understand basic counterarguments) halfway through the book.