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on January 31, 2015
Most of the book is a smooth read, but about half way through it gets a little monotonous. It was recommended to me, and I was engaged for the first 90 or so pages, but then it drags with repeated or relatively simple information. These portions just take too long to say what could be said in a lot less words - wordy, verbose... whatever you want to call it. The information is helpful enough for someone wanting to look a little beyond the surface of thought and the thinking processes. Not for a grad student or someone doing some in-depth research. It's more a survey piece.
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on May 28, 2013
When trying to understand more about ourselves and the world, the study of philosophy presents itself as a reasonable approach. This can be tackled in a couple of ways. The great works of philosophical inquiry can be digested chronologically, like an ongoing discussion of ideas progressing through the ages, or one can look at specific topics such as free will, the problem of how we really know anything, or what is ultimately real in the world, and see what other thinkers have to say about them.

Standout examples of the later approach include the short books Think, and Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction by Edward Craig, a volume in the excellent Oxford Press series of Very Short Introductions. Longer, more comprehensive books taking this approach include An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis by Edward Hospers and Modern Philosophy by Roger Scruton. Aside from just sitting down and chronologically plowing through the canonical works of philosophy one by one, several chronological surveys of philosophy (mostly western philosophy) exist, including History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant, the multi-volume series History of Philosophy by Frederick Copleston, and the more populist The Dream of Reason by Anthony Gottlieb.

As someone who has been devoting a good amount of time over the past ten years to the bullheaded, brute force approach and progressing with a glacial pace from the pre-Socratic thinkers in ancient Greece to now the early nineteenth century, I can comment on the refreshing clarity with which Simon Blackburn fences with some of the larger problems of human thought. Whether you have dipped into philosophy previously or not, the problem based approach has much to recommend it. The approach serves as an excellent introduction and guide to possible further topics and thinkers to investigate. For those with more extensive background, books such as this can provide an opportunity to draw back, examine a specific question using the resources of thousands of years of thinkers. The opportunity to compare, contrast, and hopefully integrate thoughts from a wide array of thinkers is a highlight of such an approach. The short format of this book requires a sharp focus on the essential elements, which lends a degree of lucidity to the arguments.

The book is divided into discussions of eight philosophic problems:
1. Knowledge: Given the problem of scepticism, the problem that our sensory input might be faulty, how can we establish a basis for gaining true knowledge about the world and our self?
2. Mind: Is there a part of the brain which integrates sensory information and does the thinking, creates volitional acts, is the source of our volition? Is there a soul? Does my mind work the same as the way as the minds of others? Is my perception of reality the same as other people's?
3. Free Will: Is our sense of freedom of thought and action illusory, or is it just a complex but ultimately predictable result of cause and effect?
4. The Self: To what extent do we possess continuity as a constant self over time?
5. God: Is there one?
6. Reasoning: A relatively painless introduction to logic and rules of rational thought.
7. The World: What is the nature of reality? Does a material world really exist outside of our own mind?
8. What To Do: An investigation into the nature of human motivations and actions. How should we act?

Limitations include a somewhat obscure section on "the mind" and an idiosyncratic section on ethics which seems to bring less of the resources of the philosophic canon to bear on the problem than other sections of the book. Overall, however, I recommend this as a good introduction or an opportunity to synthesize the thoughts of thinkers throughout the western tradition.
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on August 17, 2017
This book was recommended to me as an overview of philosophy from a conceptual standpoint. It plows through all the Big Questions, one at a time, and fearlessly.

I don't consider myself shallow or lacking in thoughtfulness, but I really could have used some hand-holding. Parts of the reading were so thick with high-level concepts that I repeatedly lost my place in comprehending the author's line of reasoning. Maybe that's just what happens when you try to write about philosophy.

Very solid read. If I further my readings in this field, this will have served as a good foundation.
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on January 14, 2014
"Think" helps you retrain your brain. It's a robust but accessible foray into the world of philosophy that is well-suited for everyone above a 9th grade reading level. The book helps to see life, death, myself, and other people in a completely new light. This is philosophy that is conversational and engaging, and a quick read to boot. Sure, there are some slow parts, but they are outweighed by the countless parts that leave you wondering "what if?" It gives you a roadmap to the rabbit hole of religion, meaning in life, knowledge, and the self.

In my mind, everyone should read this book. For the uninitiated, it's powerfully mind-expanding. For the veterans, it's a refreshing take.
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on December 30, 2010
The whole world would benefit from taking a day off from 24 hour news stations, celebrity worship, obsessions with sports, & all the other fruitless endeavors we embark on to read a book like this. This is one of the best introductions out there, Blackburn's writing style is engaging & interesting. Even after having read several of the most popular introductions to philosophy, I still came away from this book with a much better understanding of the issues, he presents the arguments in a very clear & concise manner & despite what some reviewers claim, is very fair in presenting both sides of a debate on any issue. While he may, after evaluating an issue, suggest that one side may have the advantage over the other, by no means does he ever say that an issue is settled & there is nothing left to say on the subject. I find it funny that those complaining about the objectivity of his chapters on philosophy of religion are the same people that will suggest an adamantly 'pro-christian' introduction to philosophy of religion. How can you complain about bias & then suggest something that explicitly states that it is biased? I have read Craig & Moreland's "Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview", in no way is it an objective introduction to both sides of the philosophy of religion debate.

Complaints about other reviewers aside, this book is great for anyone who wants to start delving into philosophy, & will definitely prime you to enter the contemporary debate on just about any major issue. One could nitpick here or there that a certain 'philosophy of x' is not well represented, but this is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of every single subject in philosophy. As he stated in the first chaper on knowledge, it's 'just the highlights', if you want the whole story, you have to watch the whole game.
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on May 6, 2016
This is a great introduction in the basics of Philosophy. It covers the self, the mind, free will, God, reasoning, knowledge, the world. It changed my view of half of those subjects in the course of a few months (one college semester). All of the subjects are much more metaphysical than I thought but having some experiential familiarity with others, it either changed my mind to a different point of view, or provided some clarity. Recommend. :)
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on April 20, 2014
As promised, the author covers a wide scope of topics in a fairly well-ordered manner. I am just beginning to explore philosophy and found the book fairly digestible though it did feel like the author had put more effort into explaining the concepts in the first few chapters than he did later in the book.

In line withe disclaimer the author included in the beginning of the book there are important topics that are not explored in depth. The problem is that the lack of depth impeded my ability to fully understand some other parts of the book. Maybe it was just me. At any rate, this is a minor issue since it has motivated me to more fully explore the topics. And that is clearly the whole point of this book anyway...it is an appetizer intended to wet your appetite.
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on September 28, 2017
I purchased this book for a Philosophy course in college and I was very pleased with the condition of the item. There were no tares on the cover.
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on September 4, 2017
As he says in his introduction, in this book Blackburn familiarises the reader with enough of the focus points of philosophy that after having read the novel one can walk over to a book store and pick up Kierkegaard, Hume, Schopenhauer, or most any other philosopher and delve into the heart of an argument.
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on February 22, 2015
Not the greatest intro to philosophy but far from the worst -- and it does do an admirable job of, at least conceptually, reframing the syllabus for your Philo 101 course. I doubt it will make its way onto my booklists; it has already, however, inspired some very productive (and student-awkening) curricular experimentation.
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