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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Only All Philosophy Textbooks Were This Good...
One reviewer has given this book only 3 stars, describing the author's style as "irritating", but I disagree. I've read many introductory philosophical texts, ranging from tedious to excellent, but this is the best. The structure is very user-friendly (for example, the overviews at the beginning of each chapter are extremely helpful) and the prose style is a clear as it...
Published on 13 Nov 2010 by David bookworm UK

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good once you get used to his writing style.
I found his writing style harder to understand than the topic he is writing about. It made the book take twice as long to read as it should have! Once I got passed that I actually enjoyed it.
Published 13 months ago by AllyQ


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Only All Philosophy Textbooks Were This Good..., 13 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) (Paperback)
One reviewer has given this book only 3 stars, describing the author's style as "irritating", but I disagree. I've read many introductory philosophical texts, ranging from tedious to excellent, but this is the best. The structure is very user-friendly (for example, the overviews at the beginning of each chapter are extremely helpful) and the prose style is a clear as it gets, and is certainly not tediously long-winded, as that reviewer implies; perhaps he thinks this because Loux does indeed go to great pains in assisting the reader to follow the argument at every stage - he often repeats an important point several times, for example, offering different formulations of the same thought. But this is basically just the technique of recapping frequently to make sure that the student's got it - something any good teacher should do.

The text is consistently pitched at the optimum level for undergraduates, at whom it is - I assume - primarily aimed. The back cover says that the book is "for students who have already done an introductory philosophy course", so if you are a complete philosophical novice this book is probably not for you - though everything is explained clearly, step-by-step. As a whole, it gives just the kind of accessible, straightforward guidance students need in order to do well in examinations, whilst providing enough detail and depth to create a solid foundation for further studies at a higher level.

One thing I particularly like is that, even at this level, the author manages to convey a sense of the importance and centrality of the subject matter. After all, investigating the fundamental nature of reality is surely, by any standards, a project of some intellectual urgency. The ideas which this book explores are among the most esoteric conceptions of the world ever to arise from the human brain, and Loux's extremely careful approach is far preferable to that of taking the reader's understanding somewhat for granted. Some philosophers - including, it's sad to say, some rather distinguished ones - seem to write, even at an introductory level, as if they are thinking "this all makes perfect sense to me; if anyone doesn't understand it then that's her problem".

To sum up, this is as near perfect a philosophical textbook as you're ever likely to read. Highly recommended (though that doesn't mean that the material isn't difficult - this is still philosophy!). Don't be tempted to skip the introduction, by the way, since it provides a superb summary of one of the most central and persisting disputes in metaphysics and philosophical logic, i.e. the realism/anti-realism debate, to which Loux also devotes an entire chapter at the end of the book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant buy, 24 Oct 2010
This review is from: Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) (Paperback)
This book is part of the core reading for my second year of a BA Hons degree in Philosophy and boy has it helped! Full of useful and interesting articles and snippets, this book is a brilliant read for those being introduced into metaphysics yet have a background in philosophy. I would whole heartedly recommend you buy this book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good condition, 6 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) (Paperback)
The book was in good condition and came as it was supposed to. A few pencil markings in the text, but they did not detract from reading the book - other people's notes can sometimes be helpful!!
Very good service, would use again.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good once you get used to his writing style., 15 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) (Paperback)
I found his writing style harder to understand than the topic he is writing about. It made the book take twice as long to read as it should have! Once I got passed that I actually enjoyed it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A bit dense but comprehensive, 23 April 2013
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This review is from: Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) (Paperback)
Not for the beginner as a first book on the subject but worth persevering with. The literary style is not easy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good primer for a limited set of metaphysic's topics, 29 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) (Paperback)
I found this to be a good metaphysics introduction at the undergraduate level. One or two of the topics I have read reasonably extensively on, but still found something new in Loux's book, or found his explanations particularly clear. The chapters on universals and concrete particulars are particularly good. I also liked his final chapter on realism versus anti realism.

On the downside I found the writing style occasionally a little irritating, mainly because he over-explains some items. (However, this is a lesser sin than assuming the reader understands and jumping around without sufficient explanation). The chapter on causality, which is a subject I am interested in, is thin. There is nothing on freedom and determinism or the mind-body issue. Perhaps these are not contemporary.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stranger than religion, 14 Aug 2011
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John Ferngrove (Hants UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) (Paperback)
I have read a fair bit of philosophy over the years; a few of the easier classics, such as Plato, Locke and Hume, and several of the fine general introductions available; Scruton's Modern Philosophy, Russell's History of Western Philosophy and A.C.Grayling's Philosophy 1: A Guide Through the Subject. However, my chief philosophical focus has been philosophy of mind, insofar as it intersects with my interests in computational AI and cognition. Recently, having managed to complete the formidable but hugely rewarding The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, I decided to broaden my philosophical perspective so as to better follow some of the arguments I had encountered in the philosophy of mind literature. I duly identified some introductory texts on some of the main sub-headings within the subject, namely metaphysics, epistemology and logic, from which list this title was the first I chose to undertake.

It was with some consternation then that I discovered that, two and a half millennia after Plato, the debate was still raging on the real existence or not of universals. Universals are posited as abstractions over and above the `concrete particulars', or the actual things of the world that a scientist might cheerfully assent to the existence of. These include such things as their properties, as well as the kinds and categories to which they belong, and the relations into which they enter. Reading on, I learned that in addition to universals, existing wherever they do, in their timeless, spaceless meta-world, there are other entities like propositions, the infinitude of false ones as well as all the true ones. Also, such items as facts, states of affairs and events, each of which may or may not be the same thing. Furthermore, the general impression given is that realism, the position that these things really are `out there' in some way, is the current orthodoxy, and that nominalism, the opposing and more intuitive viewpoint whereby concrete particulars are the sole existents, is rather on the back foot in our present era. Thus, I found myself confronted with a veritable managerie of invisibilia which are purported to exist just so that human thoughts and utterances can be true or not. Coming to the chapter on causation we encounter the work of David Lewis who shows us how we can get rid of all this ghostly gubbins by positing an infinity of alternative possible worlds in which every possible way that things might happen gets to be played out. However, they eliminate all these vexing universals only if we are prepared to believe that all these worlds actually exist, a position known as possiblism. Fortunately, Alvin Plantinga has been able to show how to dispense with the reality of these possible worlds. However, for this we must be willing to take all the chopped up bits and pieces of those parts of possible worlds that do not get realised in our actual world and include them as further inmates of the managerie of ghostly invisibles.

I must confess to finding this all somewhat hard to assimilate. On the one hand, I am reading this stuff in rapt fascination, gripped by the compelling beauty of the baroque, almost cathedral-like construction that Loux creates out of argument and counter-argument. But on the other I cannot dismiss the sense that I am indulging in something slightly disreputable, that I would not want to admit to among my more scientifically inclined friends. After the semi-lifetime taken to eliminatively deconstruct a creator god and the attendant notions of immaterial soul or spirit, I find myself rather reluctant to buy in to this vastly more elaborate host of numinous infinities. And yet, I am, and have for a long while been, a mathematical Platonist, so perhaps the thin end of the wedge is already inserted in my worldview. I will need some time for cogitation, particularly on the notion of truth, which is the apparent fulcrum on which all this apparatus seems to hinge, before I make up my own mind on where I stand in the metaphysical belief spectrum. Right now though, the realist position (the view that all this invisible stuff is real and actual) seems stranger than any theology of any religion. Nonetheless, humble man that I am, I cannot quite bring myself to dismiss out of hand an area of study that has vexed the finest minds of the species for millennia.

Despite difficulty with agreeing, or even disagreeing, with most of the content of this book, I give it five stars. Firstly because it is very well written. At no point did I find myself lost or baffled by the Loux's exposition of the arguments, even though they can become quite tortuous. There is a certain degree of repetition which more able minds might find irritating, but which will serve to give the beginning student the best possible chance of keeping up. Secondly, despite its perplexing nature, the subject matter is profoundly stimulating, or will be at least to minds of a certain bent, causing one to examine very closely one's deepest intuitions and assumptions about our existence and being in this curiously possible world.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but irritating, 9 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) (Paperback)
You get the sense he is just padding out the material to make pages. He will, for instance, and just to give you an example, on any page, such as in the middle of the book, say, write in such a way that I, the reader, will need to keep pausing, so he, Loux, can clarify exactly, and precisely, what he, Loux, is trying to explain, and show, to I, the reader. After about five sentences you start to feel a little ill. Don't even think of underlining anything important - you'll end up highlighting a paragraph for one simple point. There are few names given to the sources of the material he is using. He doesn't go very deep either.

On the other hand, I can't recommend any other books over this for an introduction to Metaphysics, and whilst a bit shallow it is a good read - though it does take its time...
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