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Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

By Edward Craig & Maurice West (Narrator)
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Item description for Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Edward Craig & Maurice West...

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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Item Specifications...

Format: Abridged,   Audiobook
Studio: Naxos Audiobooks
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 4.75"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  CD
Release Date   Nov 5, 2005
Publisher   Naxos Audiobooks
ISBN  9626343443  
ISBN13  9789626343449  

Availability  0 units.

More About Edward Craig & Maurice West

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Edward Craig is Knightsbridge Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University, where he is also a Fellow of Churchill College. He has held visiting appointments at the Universities of Hamburg and Heidelberg, and the University of Melbourne. His publications include The Mind of God and the Works of Man (OUP, 1987), Knowledge and the State of Nature (OUP, 1990), and he is general editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Edward Craig currently resides in Cambridge. Edward Craig was born in 1977 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Cambridge University University of Cambridge University of Cambridge U.

Edward Craig has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Very Short Introductions

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1Books > Audio CDs > Reference
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Aesthetics
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
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Reviews - What do customers think about Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)?

A Good Start  Jan 19, 2008
I will agree with a number of the other reviewers that this book was rather shallow, but that's the way the book was meant. A "very short introduction" is just that -- a quick hit. If you want to know more about philosophy, take this book as point A and use the suggested reading list as point B and then go on from there. The only real problem I have with the book is the author's treatment of C.S. Lewis. He takes a quote from him completely out of context (Lewis wasn't speaking of Darwinism, but basic morality) and then criticizes the misinterpretation. This is really just a cheap jab at christianity and I've sadly come to expect it from most of what I read these days.
A bit selective but clear, brief, and interesting  Jul 21, 2007
I agree with much of the positive reviews below, so I won't repeat their points. Edward Craig does an excellent job to familiarize the reader with the discipline of philosophy by way of looking at snapshots of philosophers that represent key aspects of philosophy. What Craig does present, he presents clearly and succinctly, and he certainly stimulates interest in the subject. So the book happily succeeds as an introduction.

While "biased" may be too strong a term to describe the book, it may suffer a bit from being a bit selective in topic coverage, although this is forgivable given the introductory nature of the book. Particularly, the absence of any discussion about the existence of God is striking, as it is a perennial topic in Western philosophy and a very lively one. Someone like Thomas Aquinas would have been a perfect philosopher to reference on this topic, especially given the lack of medieval philosophers represented by Craig. Incidentally, he does quote Aquinas, but it is a statement about animals, which is surely more obscure than his well known arguments for the existence of God. Furthermore, if Craig's goal was to present primarily philosophy that argues from reason rather than sacred texts, Acquinas' and others' arguments for God's existence (as well as detractors' rebuttals) would surely have been a better fit than a Scriptural reference.

All in all, though, Craig's book is only meant to be a sampling of philosophy, and such gaps do not take away much from the overall value of the book because Craig is so good at digesting and summarizing philosophers' thoughts for newbies.
Craig's Introductory Tour... de-force.  Feb 13, 2007
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.
Good introduction  Feb 13, 2007
I bought this book to introduce this topic to one of my 10th grade English students. We will then get into the next book (Logic: A Very Short Introduction, same publisher). So far, the student is enjoying the books, and he is not intimidated by these friendly, paperback books as he is with the larger, hardbound college-type textbooks.
A walk in the shallows - and unaware of its own bias  May 8, 2006
I suppose one cannot expect too much of a book which aims only to be a "very short introduction", but I did expect a little more than this book gave. I read through it at the request of a friend who wanted to know whether this would give him an adequate starting point for some philosophical reading, as he's entirely new to the field. I found myself shaking my head over most of the book, although certainly there are some portions of the writing which are impartial and informative.

However, as a GENERAL overview, I can't recommend this book. It often bears a rather patronising tone, and in the very first chapter declares its own bias without realising it does so. The examination of the Platonic work is superficial; the discussion of Humes' work is given an extraordinary weighting without reference to other philosophical works pertinent to that discussion; the Indian dialogue is treated in a lopsided fashion; and so on. If discussion of these selections (which are in themselves odd choices in an introductory work) can only be maintained at so superficial a level, better they had been dropped altogether. I am strongly of the opinion that the questions and topics raised in the selections (some of which were not even mentioned) deserve either more elaborate treatment or should be given many more possible interpretations so as to avoid laying a personal interpretation upon the ideas of the writers thus represented.

At no point is the reader to be permitted to make up his mind when it comes to Humes, for instance.

The writing style is simple and clear. This will appeal to some readers. The examples are shallow - again, this will appeal to some readers. The reader is guided into following the writer's own viewpoint - this is what one would expect of a philosopher's own work, not of what purports to be an overview or introduction, which ought of necessity to be more disinterested.

This will appeal to those who have little or no experience with reading Plato themselves, or who have never sat down to embark upon a course of reading including Kant, Freud, Thomas Aquinas, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, C.S. Lewis, Stephen Meyer, Descartes, Rousseau, etc. I can't even say this is a good introductory book. It is a good book in terms of presenting some of the philosophical ideas or works that have influenced its writer.

But even as an introduction, it walks too narrow a path along the shoreline, where only certain waves are permitted to splash and which certainly does not delve into any depths.

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