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Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Edward Craig , Maurice West
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 6 2007
How ought we to live? What really exists? How do we know? This lively and engaging book is the ideal introduction for anyone who has ever been puzzled by what philosophy is or what it is for. Edward Craig argues that philosophy is not an activity born from another planet: learning about it is just a matter of broadening and deepening what most of us do already. He shows that philosophy is no mere intellectual pastime: thinkers such as Plato, Buddhist writers, Descartes, Hobbes, Hume, Hegel, Mill and de Beauvoir were responding to real needs and events - much of their work shapes our lives today and many of their concerns are still ours.

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`[The Very Short Introduction to Philosophy] shows that philosophy really can be fascinating, broad-minded and full of surprise. As a means of stimulating interest in the subject it has few rivals.' Julian Baggini, The Philosopher's Magazine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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numerous halftones and line drawings --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Anyone reading this book is to some extent a philosopher already. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful in the extreme. June 30 2003
Format:Paperback
A wonderful, lucid, entertaining and informative guide. Craig takes the reader step-by-step through some of the principal works of ancient and modern philosophy, and provides us with an essential guide to the somewhat daunting task of deciphering and understanding a range of compelling thinkers and their works. With an engaging, friendly writing style (and an excellent bibliography to encourage us to continue our journey), this is an indispensable little volume.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lively little book for everyone. Oct. 29 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Its length obviously prohibits comprehensiveness, but this book is succinct and lively on the topics it does cover. Edward Craig does an admirable job of showing how some of even the most ancient philosophical questions are pertinent to a modern person's life. The writing style is accessible with little jargon. The bibliography is a fine starting point for further reading. A great read to augment a more thorough survey of Philosophy.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual introduction to philosophy Aug. 19 2005
By Peter Reeve - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Introductory philosophical texts tend to adopt one of two possible approaches: Either they give a chronological account of famous thinkers and schools, or they examine a set of topics - ethics, free will, nature of mind, etc. Craig opts for something different and rather interesting. The first three chapters are intended to be read in tandem with the works they summarize, namely Plato's "Crito", Hume's "On Miracles" and the Buddhist "King Milanda's Chariot". How many readers will actually do that is doubtful but it is an interesting idea that introduces the reader to three very different areas of philosophy.

We then, somewhat more traditionally, have summary introductions to some philosophical themes and 'isms'. Next, Craig presents reviews of a very personal selection of philosophical classics. 'Idiosyncratic' may be a better word than 'personal' as it includes Darwin's "The Origin of Species" which would not normally feature in such a list.

Finally, we have a description of philosophy as a discipline, asking what purposes and interests it serves.

There's a lot of good things to say about this little book. It is a well-written, lively and authoritative introduction. Craig references the Hindu tradition as well as the Western and gives plenty of encouragement and advice for further study.
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun but unstructured Feb. 1 2006
By C. MOZEE-BAUM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is one of the more entertaining and reader-friendly books on philosophy I've read, and in terms of style it goes down more smoothly than even most other Very Short Introductions.

However, it's difficult to see the precise value or usefulness of this book. Obviously, you can't give a comprehensive overview of a subject as vast as Philosophy in a 130 page book. Still, the organization of this volume seems somewhat haphazard and meandering.

Edward Craig is certainly an expert on the subject, and the chapters do explore various facets of philosophy, such as predominant philosophical questions and key philosophers and philosophical texts. But the choice of topics seems a bit too subjective, and the manner in which things are explored lends itself more to entertainment than actual acquisition of knowledge.

I recommend this to anybody who has an interest in philosophy but knows literally next to nothing about it; for anyone else, the content is a bit too shallow to be really useful, though it's still an entertaining read.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful in the extreme. June 30 2003
By "writing_static" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A wonderful, lucid, entertaining and informative guide. Craig takes the reader step-by-step through some of the principal works of ancient and modern philosophy, and provides us with an essential guide to the somewhat daunting task of deciphering and understanding a range of compelling thinkers and their works. With an engaging, friendly writing style (and an excellent bibliography to encourage us to continue our journey), this is an indispensable little volume.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very nice tour... Jan. 15 2005
By Odd Bodd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
...with a very good tour guide. As the title suggests, it is a very short introduction. Prof. Craig gives an excellent introduction to the three big questions "What should I do?" (or how should I live my life?) "How do we know?"(very roughly, how do we draw conclusions? "What am I?" (again, very roughly, what is a person?) After dealing with these Prof. Craig then moves on to several other issues, all of which relate back to these questions.

Prof. Craig is a delightful guide, full of good humour and, for the most part, a fantastic explainer of very complex ideas; you'll have to read his description of Nietzsche's ideas to see what I mean. His annotated bibliography is definitely one of the best I have come across in this series.

Why four stars? I'd give him four and a half if I could. The only minor shortcomings of the book were that one or two of the explanations weren't all that clear (but then, it is a very short guide) and I found his treatment of C. S. Lewis bordering on contemptuous.

Those points aside, a fantastic book.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Craig's Introductory Tour... de-force. Feb. 13 2007
By Steve - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This little book is a gem. A couple of reviews here are too hard on this a 125 page tour. I came to this book as somewhat of a philosophy novice unlike, it seems, a couple of the disappointed reviewers here, so my perspective may be naïve, but the book did it's job for me and then some. Early on Craig correctly recommends reading slowly, because he packs a lot into the short tour. Apologies to a previous reviewer who found it shallow, keep in mind it's a large task for a small book.

If you know nothing of philosophy, I'd recommend first, as Craig does also, Thomas Nagel's "What Does It All Mean". My first read was Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy" which was too much for a beginner, although it did give me a sense of the history of western thought as it was intended. Russell's "The Problems of Philosophy" would have been a better start, but Russell can be a bit technical for the beginner.

Craig's book is not so much an intro to the problems of philosophy as a whirlwind tour of the major ideas that encompass western (and some eastern) thought, beginning with Plato, jumping to Hume and touching on some of the authors favorites: Descartes, Hegel, Nietzsche, and the impact of Darwin. He discusses some themes and introduces some "isms". He recommends readings along the way, and the end provides a list of other recommended intro and intermediate texts. He wraps it up with a chapter titled, "What's in it for whom": The individual; The priesthood; The working class; Women; Animals.

Craig did an excellent job piquing my interest in further readings. His enthusiasm for the subject matter is obvious.
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