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The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy (Penguin Reference) [Paperback]

4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 July 2005 Penguin Reference

‘A definitive work…explains clearly and succinctly concepts and theories at the heart of European and American philosophy.’ - Brenda Almond

What do philosophers mean by 'absolute' and 'akrasia'? What are 'Polish notation' and 'prime matter'? What contributions to human thought were made by Plato, Machiavelli, Kant and Derrida? These questions and many more are answered by this illuminating dictionary, which draws on contributions from over 100 leading philosophers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 2Rev Ed edition (28 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141018402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141018409
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.5 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Publisher

Some sample entries:


1 This word was devised by Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832), and used by him to mean the `science of morality'. He also used the word as a name for his whole elthical theory, including both the basic principle of utility and a vast number of detailed applications. Bentham's Deontology 1834 was compiled by his editor in a way frowned upon by many of Bentham's followers, including John Stewart Mill. 2 a code of ethics for certain professions, e.g. the medical profession.


Pierre Simon de (1749 - 1827) French astronomer and probability theorist. On the basis of Newtonian physics, he held the view that the total course of events in the universe would be perfectly predictable to an intelligence who knew the position of every particle in the universe and the forces acting upon it. In the absence of such perfect knowledge, however, we should be guided by a rational estimate of probabilities.


1 (in ontology) The view that nothing exists except one's own self and the contents of its consciousness. 2 (in epistemology) The view that nothing can be known except one's own self and the contents of its consciousness.

In an older sense, solipsism means egoism, the view that nothing is to be valued except one's own interests and pleasures. This usage occurs e.g. in Kant's Critique of Practical Reason 3, section 3. The invention of the word and its use in this sense have been traced to a satirical anti-Jesuit work dating from the 1650s. It accused Jesuits of unscrupulous pursuit of self-interest, i.e. of what is now called egoism. On the other hand, `egoism' signified until the nineteenth century what in present-day usage is called solipsism. It seems that the two words exchanged their meanings in the course of the nineteenth century.

About the Author

Thomas Mautner is Visiting Fellow in the School of Humanities at the Australian National University, He has published papers in academic journals and has lectured widely on 17th and 18th century philosophy, moral and political thought and national rights.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and immensely readable 11 July 2006
Despite being technically a 'dictionary', this book can easily be read a a 'primer' on philosophy. Concise, informed, well cross-referenced and comprehensive, even the more complicated and enigmatic philosophical theories are explained clearly, critically and without over-simplification or overt bias.

My one reservation is that some entries which deal with issues which cross into theological grounds are rather sparsely expanded upon. While I appreciate that these issues are best dealt with in depth in a 'Dictionary of Theology', the effect many of them (such as Original Sin) had on contemporary philosophical thought (not to mention contemporary Western society) would justify a little more expansion than the dozen lines with which they are summarised.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars really useful for beginners 5 Feb 2006
i am an absolute beginner to philosophy and this book has been such a help!
all the definitions are precise enough to explain the essence of every theory, but still concise enough not to derail you from what you're actually reading.
i mean if you want to learn a lot about specific theories just from the dictionary, then this isnt it. it's just right to get you through other philosophy-readings, just like a dictionary. its not an encyclopaedia.
works marvels!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful little dictionary 26 Mar 2010
By N. ruiz
If you need a basic dictionary, for a beginners philosophy course this dictionary will do the trick. It is very compact and it provides the meanings or information in a very conscience way. If you are looking for something more complete, or, let's say, for research reference I would go for the Cambridge one.. this dictionary, like I said is just at a beginners level.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Product - Would do business with again 13 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase
Fantastic read, covers the entire A-Z of all things Philosophical. Great aid and easy reading. Would definitely recommend this book.
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