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What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy

What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Nagel
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'If someone confronts you with the problem "Get me an introduction to philosophy and I have only one evening free to read it", I can recommend Thomas Nagel's introduction. If for the umpteemth time you are asked "What is philosophy all about", tell him or her to read this book... how would you go about explaining the complex relation between a determinisic world-view and the free will problem? Thomas Nagel shows how it can be done and quite impressively so.'Philosophica

'His style is clear and free of technical terms, and the book should appeal to those who know little or nothing of the discipline.' Library Journal

'Mr Nagel is well known among academic philosophers for bringng the clarity and rigor of analytic philosophy to such "large" philosophical questions.' Roger Kimball,


Product Description

Should the hard questions of philosophy matter to ordinary people? In this down-to-earth, nonhistorical guide, Thomas Nagel, the distinguished author of Mortal Questions and The View From Nowhere, brings philosophical problems to life, revealing in vivid, accessible prose why they have continued to fascinate and baffle thinkers across the centuries.
Arguing that the best way to learn about philosophy is to tackle its problems head-on, Nagel turns to some of the most important questions we can ask about ourselves. Do we really have free will? Why should we be moral? What is the relation between our minds and our brains? Is there life after death? How should we feel about death? In a universe so vast, billions of light years across, can anything we do with our lives really matter? And does it matter if it doesn't matter? These are perennial questions we ask about the human condition, and Nagel probes them, and others like them, thoughtfully, clearly, and with humor. He states his own opinions freely but with refreshing modesty, always leaving it open to readers to entertain other solutions, encouraging them to think for themselves.
Nagel is eminently qualified to introduce the uninitiated to the world of philosophical inquiry. Singled out by the Chicago Literary Review as "one of the sharpest analytic philosophers in America today," he has been praised in the New York Times Book Review for writing "sensitively and elegantly" and in the Times Literary Supplement for his ability, rare among philosophers, to combine "profundity with clarity and simplicity of expression."
Never rarefied, What Does It All Mean? opens our eyes to a side of the world we rarely consider, demonstrating that philosophy is no empty study but an indispensable key to understanding our lives. It challenges us to think hard and clearly, to ask questions, to try out ideas and raise possible objections to them--in short, to become philosophers ourselves.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 153 KB
  • Print Length: 114 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0195052161
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (15 Oct 1987)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00524YROY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,057 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I came across this book while revising for my Philosophy Finals at Oxford and wished I'd known about it 3 years earlier!
Nagel tackles nine major philosophical issues using a succint, accurate and accessible style. His discussions inevitably dovetail towards his understanding of the problem under consideration (which prompts his solution) but this is due to the very essence of philosophical discourse - to define and outline the problem accurately is often more contentious than analysing or 'solving' it! Nagel lays open these major philosophical problems with great skill. A newcomer to philosophy may well find the question 'What can we know?' ridiculous but after reading Nagel's chapter (which, as he says, is suitable for the intelligent high school pupil upwards) on the subject he should begin to appreciate the grave difficulties posed by such a query.
The best thing about this book is that, unlike many other introductions to the subject, it is a book written by one of the most respected philosopher's of our time and its text consists of philosophising in its own right - it does not just give a potted history of Western philosophy as the majority do, yet it remains easily accessible and comprehendible. (Both types of text are useful but I have come across few books with this focus.)
This book is ideal for anyone, from A level student upwards, who wants to know a bit more about philosophy and is an excellent preparation and companion for anyone about to begin studying the subject. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing and interesting read 29 Nov 1999
By A Customer
I have tried a number of books on philosophy which are suppose to "ease" the reader into philosophy but of all the books i`v read this is the most easy to use. I find myself going back to it again,and again. The author seem to genuinly want you to find philosophy interesting, and, it works ! I cant reccommend this book enought , the only down side is that the author leads you to his conclusions , but for someone like me, who is just starting out in philosophy this book is a godsent, and one i will return to again , and again .
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Its not often that you can find an "Introduction to Philosophy" that isn't a) dull as dishwater or b) impossibly crpytic or c) both.
This book doesn't try to tackle all of the fundamentals of philsophy but merely takes a look at a few issues, studies them and gives a little insight into the kind of logic abnd reasoning behind philosophical argument.
If your thinking about "getting into" philosophy - at whatever level - this book is certainly worth a look.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The small size of this book belies its value as an introduction to some basic issues of philosophy. How do we know anything?, Why should we be moral?, and other such questions are pondered. I was a little disappointed in the brevity of this work (hence only a four-crown rating) but this is still an invaluable purchase for the new/amateur philosopher!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting 21 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This is a very interesting book. I don't study philosophy but I found myself wishing I had! It brings questions to mind which I have never really thought about asking. It is all written simply and illustrates its points with interesting scenarios. I think my only criticism with this book is the fact that the author reaches his own opinions on many of the different philosophies rather than guiding you into taking your own stance. It is easy to be guided and although Nagel maintains that that is not what he intends - having his conclusion at the end of most of the chapters makes HIS view all the more prominent in your mind.
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