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Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 21 Feb 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Edition edition (21 Feb. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854216
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 0.8 x 10.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

[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)

About the Author

Edward Craig is Knightbridge 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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Matt S on 22 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
Since I began studying philosophy many years ago I have been asked on multiple occasions by friends and family to recommend an introduction to the subject. Until this book was published I had difficulty choosing, but for me this is by far the best.

Before this book was available I would probably have chosen one of two old favourites - Nagel's 'What Does it All Mean?' or Russell's 'Problems of Philosophy' - which are both classic introductions but a little bit stale. Or perhaps I would have gone for Blackburn's 'Think', which is much fresher in tone but still very solid in content. However none of those books stands up to Craig's introduction for the following reasons.

First of all, you can be in no doubt as to the calibre of your guide. Craig hasn't published widely and is not a glamour figure in philosophical circles, but when he does write it is routinely excellent. He was also general editor of the multi-volume Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, itself an incredible achievement, and is a very popular figure at Cambridge University where he still lectures - both for the quality of his teaching and his down-to-earth nature, quite rare in a professional philosopher. Personal admiration aside, the point is that having this guy in your corner is very reassuring as he guides you through the subject.

Secondly, he really tries to give you a feel for what studying philosophy is actually like. By guiding you through important philosophical texts and drawing out the ideas and themes from there, he is encouraging you to do exactly what philosophers have always done, and continue to do. He isn't describing philosophy to you, so that you are a mere spectator, he is helping you to take part. And that, ultimately, is what it's all about.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N. A. Pickles on 26 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
This is part of the very short introduction books and is an excellent start to philosophy. The author does not try to align you with any particular philosopher or school of thought, he simply introduces the central themes of philosophy and mentions some of the famous philsophers. As it is a short book, it does not discuss a great number of philosophers - and does not pretend to. The great thing about this book is that it made me aware of philosophy and pointed me in the right direction as where to go next.
Unlike some 'philosophy' books, it does not claim and indeed does not 'change your life' but it is an enjoyable read and a gateway to entice you into the world of philosophy. If you have ever wondered what philosophy is or do not know where to start, try this book.
Highly recommended
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By H.P.J.M. on 18 May 2009
Format: Paperback
This was the first book I had read concerning philosophy directly, and I was thoroughly pleased with the approach Edward Craig gives.

Craig isn't prejudiced in any way by following certain schools of thought, and he doesn't go by the often tedious way of reciting the history of philosophy.

Instead he introduces you to a few philosophical examples: Socrates reasoning in jail; David Hume's philosophy of knowledge; and a Buddhist impression on the philosophy of the self. These help to get a sense of what philosophy is and how it concerns nearly everything. Craig then describes some theories and -isms in philosophy and then presents you with a personal selection of works. His culminating chapter returns to the starting point in the introduction-one which becomes evident throughout the book-about how important philosophy is.

This book is thought-engaging, lucid and never too heavy; Craig has succeeded in writing a perfectly accessible and very interesting introduction to philosophy.

If you are contemplating buying this and have ever wondered deeply about something, you should read this book.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE on 20 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By anozama on 31 May 2012
Format: Paperback
As good a `very short introduction' as it could be - Professor Craig might have subtitled it `Philosophy is Fun!'

It's down-to-earth, grounded in the view that philosophers reflect on exactly the same issues as anyone might ponder upon. The author explores in simple terms where logical journeys can take us. How do values interact ? What can be done about the ensuing paradoxes and dilemmas? And if by a shrug of moral relativism, how to respond to the conundrums which that approach itself generates ? Where, and what, is reality ?

Happily embracing both scientific and religious philosophies into his overview, this genial thinker invites us to enjoy the absence of any ultimate QED's. Every world view seems to have its flaws. ( for example: is not democracy `the tyranny of the majority' ? )

A humorous appetiser, and the last chapter is a suggested futher reading list.
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