This book has, I can say with some confidence, knocked about 10% off my degree. Why? The reason is simple and straight forward, it has inspired me to start to look at the world in a new light. When I started it, I already had misgivings about Western ethics and our belief in 'Right' and 'Wrong'. By the time I finished it, my doubts had been made far deeper and a whole range of new questions - many of them somewhat unanswerable - had been opened up.
Mr Hollis does not pretend to be able to squeeze the whole corpus of philosophy into one book, instead he briefly examines some aspects of several fundamentals. I found the book riveting, it challenges the privileged position of science in the western World: it explores ideas of logic and the processes of thinking, and it does so in a way that I, by no stretch of the imagination a genius, found accessible but always challenging. Whether, like me, you finish it then read bits again and forthwith start buying and borrowing philosophy books wholly unconnected with my degree (in as much as anything is unconnected to the study of the mind and the purposes, unwritten rules, assumptions and presumptions of existence).
Joking apart, I would recommend this book to anyone who feels that science, religion and society do not, of themselves, constitute a reason for anything, and wishes to look more deeply.
on 17 February 2010
This 'Invitation' is exactly that. However, it avoids the tried and tested formula of normal 'Introduction'-type books, in that Hollis frames all the key philosophical questions around ideas and examples to which it is easy to relate. The book is accessible, although certainly not easy, and there were times at which I needed to re-read pages before I understood what was being said!
The book is a fantastic piece of work - covering the key topics necessary for an introduction, while being sure to avoid simple descriptions of the beliefs of certain figures, but instead to engage with the analysis of key philosophical theories in a (generally) unbiased way. It is thought-provoking, well-researched and, most importantly, an excellent 'Invitation to Philosophy'.