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Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy [Hardcover]

Simon Blackburn
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
Price: £18.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 Aug 1999
What am I? What is consciousness? What is the difference between past and future? Does the world presuppose a creator? Do we always act out of self-interest?

This is a book about the big questions in life: knowledge, consciousness, fate, God, truth, goodness, justice. It is for anyone who believes there are big questions out there, but does not know how to approach them. Written by the author of the bestselling Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Think sets out to explain what they are and why they are important.

Simon Blackburn begins by putting forward a convincing case for the study of philosophy and goes on to give the reader a sense of how the great historical figures such as Plato, Hume, Kant, and Descartes have approached its central themes. Each chapter explains a major issue, and gives the reader a self-contained guide through the problems that philosophers have studied. The large range of topics covered range from scepticism, the self, mind and body, and freedom to ethics and the arguments surrounding the existence of God.

Written in a lively and approachable manner, this book is ideal for all those who want to learn how the basic techniques of thinking shape our existence.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; First Edition edition (5 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192100246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192100245
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.3 x 12.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 180,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Think offers a tour of philosophical thinking . . . central to our understanding of the world and our position in it. (Sunday Times 29/04/01)

highly recommended (TLS 27/04/01)

The one book every smart person should read.' - Time Magazine, 10.4.99

'Simon Blackburn's lucidly elegant essay is a guide to the most central concerns of philosophy... A beautifully clear account of the chief arguments in each debate. Blackburn is an accomplished philosopher, which makes this a valuable little book.' Sunday Times, 7.11.99

About the Author

Simon Blackburn is the Edna J. Koury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1969 to 1990. His books for OUP are Spreading the Word (1984), Essays in Quasi-Realism (1993), The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (hbk 1994, pbk 1996), and Ruling Passions (1998). He edited the journal Mind from 1984 to 1990.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
PERHAPS THE MOST unsettling thought many of us have, often quite early on in childhood, is that the whole world might be a dream; that the ordinary scenes and objects of everyday life might be fantasies. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile introduction 30 Jun 2004
I picked up this book as i wanted a basic introduction to philosophy and the major ideas: I wasnt disappointed. The book is ordered by theme (knowledge, mind, free will, the self, god, ...etc) and goes through a readable account of the development of ideas in each, with long quotations from major philosophers. Within each section, approaches to addressing the theme are explained and dissected plainly. The style is easy to follow and avoids the twisty wordgames of much philosophical writing. Nevertheless the book demands and rewards attention and should be engaging enough for anyone with a modicum of literacy and interest.
Downsides: lack of a further reading list is irritating. Blackburn also ignores pretty much everything thats happened since 1900 (except Wittgenstein and Russell) and avoids much continental philosophy since Kant. The quotes and works of Hume are given a disproportionate regard, given his influence. This may be seen as conservatism from Blackburn, but it does allow him to give the book a brevity which is excellent. However it should be pointed out that Blackburn is intellectually conservative and this sometimes come through in the writing.
This is best read as an introduction to philosophical thinking (as opposed to the history of philosophy) and at the very least, the reader should be able to ask the right question if not come up with the answer.
Please can we have something similar about modern philosophy?
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Think. A spendid introduction to philosophy 21 Aug 2009
THINK. Simon Blackburn.

A review by Colin Russell Smith.

Whether you are a serious beginner to the study of philosophy or are simply looking for a fascinating read this book is a well thought out introduction to the world of philosophy. Dr.Simon Blackburn is a master of his subject, a first rate communicator with the ability to get to the heart of the matter in a challenging but coherent way.

The book covers the basics of philosophy; areas such as Knowledge,The Mind, Free Will, The Self, God plus others. He introduces the views of many influential philosophers; Descarte, Hume, Wittgensein, Leibnitz and Russell etc.and demonstrates how to analyse and question philosophical statements. He explains what are Empirisists,Realists Cohesionists etc. and how their views add to our understanding of the universe and the traps that we can all fall into with our own reasoning.

Yes, the book is a challenge;it is,after all,a serious academic work designed, as it says, to make you think. This is fair enough. Dr.Blackburns aim is to educate by challenging your accepted beliefs, understandings and conceptions.But he never leaves you standing.He is aware of the difficulties of the subject,and comes to your rescue with clear analogies and explanations making the seemingly impenetrable perfectly clear.

The book itself is clearly and logically laid out. Each chapter is divided into titled,bite size chunks,complete in themselves,but each leading logically and sequentially to the next. This same approach applies to each chapter:Knowledge,the opening chapter leading to the Mind which leads to Free Will and so on.But if you are the type of person who likes to dip in here and there you will still find each chapter or section informative and understandable.
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96 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fulfills its purpose - that of a juncture 30 Dec 2004
I read this book some time ago now, whilst flirting with the idea of studying philosophy; I wanted to know what I might be getting in to.
Reviews on this site have often slated the book for its lack of depth, but this loses sight of the books objective. After reading this book, you will not come away with an in-depth knowledge of the workings of philosophical branches, their history, or some such. You will, however, know what these philosophical branches are, who has been of particular importance within them, and which branches interest you enough for further reading. This is an introduction to philosophy, nothing more.
Of all the introductions I have read, and there were a few during the afore-mentioned period, this has been the most useful to me. It provided me with a stand point from which to progress from. If you have only a vague idea of what philosophy is, or if you wish to briefly sweep across its main branches, this book is for you.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good start to some key topics 16 Feb 2009
If you read all the reviews here I think you get a really good sense of who this book is most useful for. I've given it five stars because I think for the right audience this is an excellent choice.

I have struggled previously to find introductory level texts on philosophy for the general reader (ie me). Blackburn's organisation reflects where the thinking can be used rather than its technical philosophical topic. I found each of the first five chapters - Knowledge; Mind; Free Will; The Self; and God - stimulating and enjoyable. The chapter and book titles underline something significant here: the book is about the application of ideas, about what we do, rather than just the ideas themselves.

For some reason, I found the latter chapters - Reasoning; The World; What to do - tailed off. Maybe this just reflects a personal preference, I don't know.

This is a fascinating and readable text which really demonstrates what it is to think clearly. It introduces key philosophical debates in a way that leaves you feeling better able to deal with the world. Others have commented that it is not comprehensive. Good. What it does cover is properly referenced and there is a bibliography. Philosophical writing can be obscure and difficult and this is not. In this respect, Blackburn does us all a great service.
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