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Paradoxes Hardcover – 19 Feb 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (19 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521896320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521896320
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,655,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'An engaging and accessible guide through some of the deepest conceptual labyrinths we know. Sainsbury encourages the reader to think with him, always asking questions and pointing out roads not taken. This is the first place I send students who have become puzzled by the liar paradox or the paradox of the heap.' John McFarlane, University of California, Berkeley

Book Description

The expanded and revised third edition of this intriguing book considers a range of knotty paradoxes including paradoxes about morals, paradoxes about belief, and hardest of all, paradoxes about truth. It is not only an explanation of paradoxes but also an excellent introduction to philosophical thinking.

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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mr R P Cameron on 3 April 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent survey of the most important logical paradoxes, which have troubled philosophers and logicians for millennia. It provides very clear accounts of the Liar, the Sorites and others. A good resource for students or those interested in the logical issues of paradoxes. I would not recommend it, however, to those who like paradoxes for the amusement and sleepless nights they cause. If you are intersted in how to solve them logically, read this (I'm not saying you'll find out though!) If you just want a good, entertaining book on paradoxes try something by Raymond Smullyan.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Knock your mind loose from your brain 12 Dec. 2002
By John S. Ryan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Philosophy begins in wonderment. Sometimes it ends there, too.
Good paradoxes aren't just for entertainment (although they _are_ vastly entertaining; check out any of Raymond Smullyan's books for proof of that assertion). Each of them opens a door to all sorts of fascinating issues of tremendous philosophical importance.
Mark Sainsbury's fine introduction, in its heavily revised second edition, is a set of keys to those doors. For example, his discussion of Zeno's famous paradoxes doesn't just inform the lay reader what they are; it explains why they're important even today: because they call into question whether the now-standard mathematical analyses of the paradoxes adequately capture our ordinary understanding of space. That is, the paradoxes can be resolved in the ideal space of mathematicians, but that doesn't _necessarily_ mean they can be resolved in the space in which we really live.
In difficulty, the exposition is about one notch higher than in William Poundstone's _Labyrinths of Reason_, so you may want to read Poundstone first if you're new to this subject altogether. But do get around to this one. It's a solid account, from a more or less "analytic" outlook (though that term probably suffers from all the "vagueness" problems discussed in Sainsbury's second chapter).
Sainsbury will also introduce some topics Poundstone doesn't cover -- notably, and perhaps most interestingly, Graham Priest's "dialethism" -- a logic in which, Priest claims, it's possible for some contradictions to be true[!]. Sainsbury doesn't agree but nevertheless concludes that he doesn't have a knockdown argument against it. (Be aware that Sainsbury's account has been criticized by other philosophers, including Priest. Follow up with Priest's own books if you get interested in this subject.)
Sainsbury also doesn't hesitate to offer his own resolutions of the paradoxes, but he warns the reader not to accept his resolutions blindly. In fact there are several about which I continue to disagree with him (not an unusual phenomenon when the subject is paradoxes), but he's changed my mind on a couple.
Overall, then, this is a well-written and cogently argued presentation, highly recommended to anyone interested in paradoxes and their relevance to philosophy.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Top-notch brain calisthenics 28 July 2006
By Fred Adrissi - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this book and William Poundstone's "Labyrinths of Reason" at about the same time and found each to compliment the other very nicely. I strongly recommend reading Poundstone first, especially if you're like me and have very little or no formal training in logic. The two books cover much the same territory but in different ways. Poundstone is the better writer and does a wonderful job explaining the paradoxes and their interesting implications. Sainsbury is also a very good writer. His presentation is more matter-of-fact and rigorous though never overly technical. Sainsbury's chapters on the paradoxes of Zeno, Newcomb, Hempel, and Goodman are outstanding - extremely interesting, insightful, and fun. The going starts to get a bit rough in Chapter 5 with the Liar Paradox. Sainsbury digs into this paradox that at first seems simple but turns out to be perhaps the most difficult of all. This chapter occasionally threatens to degenerate into the sort of tedious detail and terminology that makes so many college logic courses so dreadfully awful but fortunately this never happens. The final chapter is also a challenge but one worth tackling: I suggest ibuprofen for the headache you'll get trying to understand why, to a logician, the three statements "This sentence if false" and "This sentence is not true" and "This sentence is untrue" are apparently three entirely different things! Even if it all doesn't stick the first time through, the great thing is that you'll find yourself thinking about things just a little bit differently.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Book 15 Feb. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you want to learn or teach about Logical Paradoxes, this is the book you must raed. I have read many books on this topic, and to my opinion, this book is the best. The paradoxes and their solution (or dissolutions) are presented very clearly.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Of Interest to Any Serious Philosopher 24 Sept. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
While the topic of the book is paradoxes, this book can easily be used for a 20th century analytic metaphysics course. Sainsbury is easy to understand and lays out the various issues clearly and concisely. My only problem with the book is his last chapter on dialetheism. His exposition is clear, but it is not as accurate as it could be. Anyone reading this chapter would be advised to read some of Priest's original works, and Priest's response to Sainsbury given to the Aristotelian Society.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Paradoxes 14 April 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is required reading for U London Logic course in the BA Philosophy. It makes for easyt reading and covers most of the basics of paradoxes. I recommend it as a good first look at the subject.
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