- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; New edition (March 22, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192854259
- ISBN-13: 978-0192854254
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.8 x 4.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 66 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy New Edition
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From Library Journal
Blackburn (philosophy, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) has written this book "for people who want to think about the big themesAknowledge, reason, truth, mind, freedom, destiny, identity, God, goodness, justice"Abut, more importantly, to think about them philosophically. His method is to introduce what other philosophersAprimarily Plato, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Leibniz, Hume, and KantAhave had to say about these themes. To make the arguments more understandable to the lay reader, he presents the problem and then makes extensive use of analogies to ordinary situations, thus making the philosophical point more perspicuous. To read this book is to sit down with an engaging, highly learned conversationalist; readers new to the subject could very well be captivated. Highly recommended for academic and public library collections.ALeon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Mgt. Lib., Washington, DC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Sensing that many people are daunted by the big questions in philosophy, university professor Blackburn supplies this primer. Its capital weapon is logic, but Blackburn shrewdly postpones discussing that until he explores such areas as the self, free will, the reality of sensory perception, and God. Doubt, either initially or continually, infuses anyone who reflects on those spheres, and Blackburn illustrates ways to begin thinking about them by using the example of Descartes. Descartes gave yes answers to the question of whether the four spheres exist or not, through a logical process with which, after Blackburn has mapped it out, one can agree or not. One spoil sport was eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume, and Blackburn deploys further disputations of Descartes' beliefs, as in mind-body dualism. Blackburn does, however, subscribe to a species of free will, which he describes as "revised compatibilism." Finding out its definition is sufficient reason to consult Blackburn's book, written with exemplary concision and with conviction that philosophy needn't be an ethereal subject, alienated from practical concerns. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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.