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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lunchable reading
This is the only book I've actually brought to school and read aloud to my friends at the lunchtable, an activity previously reserved for fashion magazines, social emails and last-minute textbook readings. Personally I would be happy to sit around reading Plato or Aristotle, but the average high schooler would not; even my friends who swore to hate anything having to do...
Published on 8 Aug 2000

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4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My mind is expanded
Frankly, though I have been a book reader for many years, I can say that I have always been reading the "wrong kinds" of books until I read this book. It has helped me to widen my scope in readings as well as expanding my mind! It is a must have and more important a must read book. Highly Recommended. It will forever change the way you read and your reading...
Published on 26 Oct 1999


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lunchable reading, 8 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: 101 Philosophy Problems (Paperback)
This is the only book I've actually brought to school and read aloud to my friends at the lunchtable, an activity previously reserved for fashion magazines, social emails and last-minute textbook readings. Personally I would be happy to sit around reading Plato or Aristotle, but the average high schooler would not; even my friends who swore to hate anything having to do with that heavy, paradoxical material were entertained by and interested in this book. My personal favorites are ethical narratives, like the professor and the dog and the ones about imaginary civilizations. Definitely recommended for philosophy lovers, and especially for philosophy haters
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an invitation to think critically about philosophy problems, 14 Oct 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: 101 Philosophy Problems (Paperback)
This book is described in the blurb as 'a fresh and original introduction to philosophy...intended for those with little or no knowledge of philosophy, such as A-level students or readers in further education courses, as well as all introductory philosophy courses'. The description seems entirely appropriate, yet it is necessary to add the qualification that the book is a highly unconventional specimen. Indeed, I suspect it may not be recognized as a real philosophical book by some people whose view of what philosophy is, what a philosophical book is like, and how such a book is to be read is formed by the content and style of the great philosophical works that form the staple in the curricula of Philosophy Departments.
What is Martin Cohen's own view of what philosophy is that permeates his book? It is the view that philosophy is an activity: the intellectual activity of engaging with philosophical problems, discussing proposed solutions to the problems, disputing arguments for proposed solutions, identifying and questioning assumptions underlying problems, solutions and arguments. This view, of course, is not unknown in Philosophy Departments, even though most professional philosophers tend to emphasize the theories which embody attempts to answer particular problems. Cohen emphasizes the problems themselves, or at least the value of the problems, from which any answers derive such value as they may possess. 101 Philosophy Problems is basically an invitation to think critically about philosophical problems, often by way of conducting thought experiments.
What is this book like? Both in regard to its structure and the style in which it is written, it is very unconventional. The first part of the book consists of a series of very short stories or narrative texts, grouped by subject-matter, setting out problems or puzzles of philosophical interest. Some of these problems are well-known in philosophical literature, e.g. the paradox of Epimenides the Cretan, who said: 'All Cretans are liars'. In the second part of the book, entitled 'Discussions', Cohen provides explanations and analyses of the issues raised by each of the problems, with some references to the treatment offered by particular historical philosophers. These discussions are intelligent and balanced, if (in most cases at least) inevitably inconclusive.
The last two sections, 'Glossary' and 'Reading Guide', offer helpful pointers to further philosophical study of a more 'academic' character.
The style of the writing is equally unconventional. Cohen always writes clearly, untechnically and informally - these being virtues which are rare enough, but not exclusive to him - and further he writes in a self-consciously comic manner. His sense of humour is mostly of the gentle P.G. Wodehouse-type variety, but occasionally explodes in Stoppardian slapstick. So, in a parody of the sceptical doubt he writes: How do I know that I haven't fallen into the clutches of a malignant demon, intent on deceiving me? Or perhaps a malignant doctor? One who has recovered my brain after some nasty accident (involving too many chip butties and driving, no doubt) and is now keeping it suspended in a vat of chemicals as part of a ghastly medical experiment. Feeding it made-up 'sense-data' along coloured wires: purple for hearing, black for touch, yellow for taste, blue for vision...?'
I find this way of presenting philosophical problems very entertaining and I am keen to try it on my students. [To put their brains in vats? Asst. Ed.] I think that the more attractive the presentation of philosophical problems to beginning students, the better the chance of giving them the 'bug' of philosophical engagement, and helping them, step by step, to the dizzying heights of abstract thinking. Finally, how is this book to be read? Cohen is emphatic that this is not to be read cover to cover, as in a frenzy. 'Take the problems,' he advises, 'at a more leisurely pace, one by one, or at most, group by group... The discussions should be seen as an aid to this process of philosophizing, rather than rapidly read by those in search of 'answers'. In any case, the pause for thought will tend to make eventual discussion more interesting, and indeed, to make the problem so. For the answers, as Bertrand Russell has already observed, are less important than the questions.
This seems to me to be sound advice for any introduction to philosophy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The thinking man's thinking man, 21 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: 101 Philosophy Problems (Paperback)
The often staid world of introductory philosophy textbooks has the dust blown off by this revolutionary first proper book by Martin Cohen (adding to his distinguished background of articles, editing journals, graphics and assorted snippets) - a humorous and accessible manual which offers an easy 'bite-size' digest for newcomers to this often fascinating field.
Cohen's droll wit and lively, succinct story-telling are applied to a series of very short stories and puzzles which demystify this hitherto often offputting topic, and give a painless, palatable, enjoyable way of learning.
Rather than offering knee-jerk, definitive answers to these eternal conundrums, Cohen offers gentle guidance in discussing them, yet leaves the questions dangling for further musings by the reader.
Meanwhile Cohen under-statedly shows how philosophy is not some abstract 'dead' area with no relevance to the so-called 'real world', but - au contraire - it may be applied to everything that happens or can be thought about.
Complete with a dummy's guide to landmark philosophers through the ages, and a basic glossary, "101..." is the thinking person's philosophy book. It is recommended as a standard text for beginners' philosophy classes or the armchair rationalist, and whets one's appetite for future volumes.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars charming iconoclasm, 23 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: 101 Philosophy Problems (Paperback)
mywyb2's main problem with the book (see review of the German Edition in the US) -- apart from alleged problems with style and translation -- is that he seems to miss its point. "Philosophy Problems" covers more or less the entire depth and breadth of philosophy, in other words an entire library. This is not a book for experts, it is a wonderful appetiser for people who do not have an awful lot of experience with philosophy. Cohen's achievement is to break things down for those readers and at the same time to narrate tongue-in-cheek and in a way that makes it quite clear that behind his brief answers, there is whole world to be discovered. He does not pretend to know it all, but challenges readers to think and to discover things for themselves. In my opinion, the charm of the book is exactly its incompleteness, its almost iconoclastic freshness. It is a book many philosophers would like to have written -- so maybe that explains mywyb2's editorial furor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest book in philosophy to come out of Marjons, 9 Oct 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: 101 Philosophy Problems (Paperback)
I must say this book has surprised us all at the demand and appreciation its publication has resulted in. It seems students simply can't get enough of it! There have even been suggestions that it should be banned from certain courses, as tutors were finding themselves 'undermined' by the argumentative expertise being demonstrated by their classes! But, seriously, '101 Philosophy Problems' has redefined the teaching of philosophy for me, and looks likely to do similar things for many others.
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4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My mind is expanded, 26 Oct 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: 101 Philosophy Problems (Paperback)
Frankly, though I have been a book reader for many years, I can say that I have always been reading the "wrong kinds" of books until I read this book. It has helped me to widen my scope in readings as well as expanding my mind! It is a must have and more important a must read book. Highly Recommended. It will forever change the way you read and your reading life will never be the same again.
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101 Philosophy Problems
101 Philosophy Problems by Martin Cohen (Paperback - 22 April 1999)
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