This volume does not present itself as a comprehensive overview of all of Western (or Eastern) philosophy. It is rather an excellent focus on several major philosophers and the major areas which their philosophies examined, analyzed, and attempted to explain. Additional volumes which might be added along with this one would be Bertrand Russell's A HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILSOPHY, Will Durant's THE STORY OF PHILOSOPHY, and a non-philosophy book, but an excellent overview and beginning guide to further more specific reading and research -- Charles Van Doren's A HISTORY OF KNOWLEGE. How do we know? And, how do we know -- that we know? What are the processes by which we take the stimulations from the external world -- through our eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin -- transmit them to our brain, and then have them decoded, categorized, analyzed, correlated, and turned into thoughts, ideas, and actions? Most of us never think about this intricate, and very profound procedure, because it happens so fast -- and we have done it so often. But we should think about it carefully and often. We should question the motives behind our associations and categorizations of ideas. Do we fall into "habits" (biases, prejudices) of pleasure or ego which form the usual basis for our thought formations and actions...which prevent us from seeing and understanding things objectively...and more in their fuller light? This excellent volume examines those same ideas in light of the philosophies of a select group of deep thinkers. But the writing in this work is clear, insightful, and very stimulating to further reading in the philosophers themselves. The philosophers covered in this work (after an "Introduction" titled -- "The Indestructible Questions") are: Plato; Descartes; Hume; Hegel; Marx; and Sartre. There is a concluding section titled: The Contemporary Scene in Philosophy. Each of these major divisions is subdivided into sections on the important concepts, analyses, and understandings contributed by the major philosopher. The sub-sections under PLATO are titled: Virtue is Knowledge; Shadow and Substance; The Divided Line; The Tri-Partite Soul; The Ideal State. The sub-sections under DESCARTES are: Historical Transition to the Modern World; Doubting to Believe; God Exists; The Clockwork Universe; Body and Soul. The sub-sections under HUME are: How do you Know?; "A Well-Meanin' Critter"; Will the Sun Rise Tomorrow?: Reason--"Slave of the Passions". The sub-sections under HEGEL are: A Revolution in Thought; The Real is the Rational; Master and Slave; The Cunning of Reason; The Owl of Minerva. The sub-sections under MARX are: The Young Hegelian; Alienated Man; The Conflict of Classes; The World to Come. The sub-sections under SARTRE are: My Existence is Absurd; Nausea; "Condemned to be Free"; No Exit. Many people are offended by the idea that Plato suggested the censoring of dramatists and poets who play on the passions of their audiences. They have labeled Plato everything from a Fascist to a proto- Communist. The author of this text does an excellent presentation of Plato's point (one which might bear modern relevance): "Why does Plato so degrade and devalue the artist? Plato is suspicious of all forms of communication which use images, such as painting, poetry, sculpture, drama, religious ritual. These art forms use images to provide fantasy rather than truth, and Plato feared that the passions of the public are easily stimulated, influenced, and controlled by their persuasive imagery. (What would Plato think of our public relations industry, which is in the business of manufacturing images for its clients?)" One doesn't have to agree with Plato...but one can certainly see his point through this clear and objective presentation. It is to our benefit to examine our own biases and "habits" of thinking and analyzing -- to keep ourselves keen to seeking the truth of what is, rather than what we would like it to be. We need to have a firmer basis for our thinking and evaluating (giving of value) rather than what "pleases" us, feeds our own vanity or ego, or whatever confirms "our group's" way of "seeing" things.