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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 30 June 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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on 30 December 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.
Recommended.
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on 21 August 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.

If you are interested in philosophy and looking for a place to start,or simply want an informative and stimulating read,then you will do no better than this facinating and challening book.

It does exactly what it says on the cover.
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on 9 August 2000
'Think' makes for an enlightening read. However, I couldn't help wondering whether the newcomer to philosophy would not be better served by reading the actual texts (or at least excerpts of them) of the philosophers mentioned throughout, and making up their own mind. While Simon Blackburn infuses his enthusiastic 'introduction' with much humor and some laudable attempts at making the mazy, stifling world of philosophy clear and alluring (and succeeds in the main), the fact that his personal opinions and conclusions are so often introduced in a book intended for 'beginners' is not helpful. And the section on logic gave me a pain behind my eyes. But that's just me...
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on 16 February 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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on 11 December 2001
This is a good accessible introduction. I would recommend it to anyone approaching the subject for the first time. Unfortunately I was looking for a bit more depth but this is not the fault of the book.
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on 6 March 2001
The last few years have seen an increase in these introductory publications, but few as gripping and lucid as Blackburn's. It is a welcome addition to the subject
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on 11 June 2012
I bought this book because I wanted to learn more about philosophy, a subject that seems to me to be quite fascinating when understood properly, but quite esoteric and a difficult one to break into. This is the second book I've purchased in the hope of finding an accessible introduction to the subject, the first book being The Philosophy Book

Unfortunately this book only served to confirm my suspicions of philosophy being a difficult and confusing subject, off limits to the uninitiated. I can tell that to those of a more philosophical bent (IE, A-Level students or perhaps undergraduates) this book would be helpful and interesting, but to a complete beginner it only adds confusion to the mix.

It is not a particularly long book, nor is it poorly written, but the philosophical jargon presented in the book does make the body of the text quite heavy. As another reviewer has mentioned, the quotes used by the author are verbose and dense, and the point they are trying to make is not entirely made clear in the quote itself, only later being explained by the author in his own words. These "own words" explanations of things I did find quite helpful, and Blackburn does highlight some of the more complicated points with tangible examples, another thing I found appealing.

So after having read this book, from which I think I expected more of than it could offer, I feel that I have learned a few things, but I am not much more knowledgeable than I was before I picked it up. Secondly, I am not sure whether my brain is just not programmed to understand philosophy, or whether I have simply not found the right sources to provide me with an introduction that fulfils my needs. I am not put off however, and this book has done nothing to tarnish my hope of one day understanding the subject.
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on 2 March 2013
Simon Blackburn writes well and is aware of the needs of struggling intellects such as myself. I am making my way into the book at several places and may not finish it soon, but that is the way I proceed with this subject. SB includes details of other books he has referenced and seems to make his and their ideas easy enough to set me thinking for many days. I recommend also the use of a dictionary of philosophy as a rapid means of reading about ideas and technical terms.
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on 22 March 2016
Some parts of some chapters are dark. As it is topically designed, Blackburn does not approach Philosophy in a consistent historical order which could produce some conmfusion it that was the initial objective of the reader. It hugely makes more sense on a second reading though.
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