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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just a 'First Reader'- plenty for others to enjoy too...
Julian Baggini is one of our most accessible- and dare I say it- level headed philosophers and it makes a great deal of sense for him to write what is basically a philosophy 'primer,' although having said that, there's much to commend this great little book to those who have already dived into philosophical waters, as it's an excellent round-up and straight-forward...
Published 23 months ago by Zipster Zeus

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on Aristotle
Philosophy: All That Matters is an excellent introduction to philosophy from an Aristotelian perspective. It is a reasonable introduction to philosophy of science. And, sadly, it is a poor introduction to other aspects of metaphysics.

After a lucid and compelling section on Plato and Aristotle, Julian Baggini comes up short on quotations from Stephen Hawking...
Published 23 months ago by Martin Turner


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just a 'First Reader'- plenty for others to enjoy too..., 30 Aug 2012
By 
Zipster Zeus (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Philosophy (ATM) (Paperback)
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Julian Baggini is one of our most accessible- and dare I say it- level headed philosophers and it makes a great deal of sense for him to write what is basically a philosophy 'primer,' although having said that, there's much to commend this great little book to those who have already dived into philosophical waters, as it's an excellent round-up and straight-forward descriptor of the discipline's essential structures.

It covers an incredible number of bases in its 130 pages or so, and so is also a great point from which the reader can launch themselves into further study of areas that particularly interest them, whether that be the philosophy of politics, aesthetics or ethics.

I particularly liked his analysis of free will, which gave me an insight into it that I hadn't really got my head around before, but his approach [and explanation] was simple, refreshing and thought-provoking. As is indeed, most of this book is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explores the difference between meaningful and meaningless, 4 Aug 2012
By 
Robin Benson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Philosophy (ATM) (Paperback)
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Interesting that Baggini's book has more four stars than five and now I've added to that total. He writes in an easy to read conversational style but I found it just a bit too simple. Missing, for me, were more examples of complex issues applied to everyday life. There are several scenarios presented where individuals (sometimes the philosophers) or groups have to make choices according to what they believe and this is a practical way of explaining a concept and I wish there were more of them throughout the book. Maybe the publisher's remit was just to make it simple.

I think the value of the text is to provide a stepping-stone for the curious to want to know more, if it does that Baggini will have succeeded. The next step might be Simon Blackburn's The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (Oxford Paperback Reference) or dive in the deep-end with the The Oxford Companion To Philosophy Isbn 0198661320.

Incidentally, I wish the publishers had been a bit more rigorous in checking the book's design. The page numbers and book title are set sideways on each page, the text typeface is uninspiring and each paragraph has one-and-half line space which means that on more than half the spreads the columns don't line with each other at bottom of the page. There are some illustrations in the book but they are not referred to in the text or mentioned in the index. Portraits of the mentioned philosophers would have made more sense.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great intro, lacking detail, 3 July 2012
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Philosophy (ATM) (Paperback)
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This is a brief run-down of the histoy and formation of the schools of thought within phillosophy. Summarising the central tenets and conflicting ideals of the different attitudes. Weighing in at 136 widely-margined A5 pages, this is too short to do anything but scrape the surface of different concepts but ultimately, it's enough to provoke intriuge and further reading, any book that is capable of that is worthy of some time. Recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A simple introduction to the ancient art of Philosophy, 24 Mar 2013
By 
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Philosophy (ATM) (Paperback)
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As a starting point to thinking about Philosophy this is a nice little book (only about 140 pages) for a novice to begin with. Nothing is too deep, nor too obscure, most of the main topics are introduced and many of the main protagonists are mentioned.

The language is accessible and non-technical, yet concise, and the progression through the eleven main sections gently leads us into the thinking modes more appropriate to Philosophy. Someone well versed in the art will think the book elementary, but most of the rest of us should find it useful.

At the end is a '100 Ideas' appendix provided as a basis for further thought; it is perhaps a more accessible way to continue exploring the subject than the usual dry list of references.

I found the layout and presentation awkward, and the silly flappy cover kept getting in the way of reading (some glue fixed it), but the content is good and worth persevering for.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars OK as an introduction, 22 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Philosophy: All That Matters (Kindle Edition)
I bought this as a generalist text to support some more detailed reading in philosophy, and so far (I'm a good chunk into the book) I like the style, although the faint grey sections are a real PAIN to read!

I do feel that some areas are a little skimmed, for example Plato's cave is mentioned almost in passing without really (I feel) exploring what a groundwork it can provide for so many areas such as epistemology, perception/philosophy of mind and even political philosophy. That said this is a minor point when the function of the title as a whole is to provide an underpinning!

Solid work, but don't expect it to answer any questions to a final resolution, nor to explore anything in depth.

Worth the money, but make sure you are prepared to read much further!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of an interesting series of books, 27 Sep 2012
By 
James B. Spink "Jim" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Philosophy (ATM) (Paperback)
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I like the "All That Matters" series of books and this one on Philosophy is up to standard. The subjects covered by the range will give you an idea of where they are coming from: Muhammad, Water, Political Philosophy, Sustainability, God, Intelligence, Love, Russian Revolution, War, and Creativity, are also available in this format.

Although the books are really just a taster for the subject covered rather than literally all that matters, they still offer a good overview and introduction to the subject. Julian Baggini is well known in his field and contributes to a number of magazines, newspapers and the BBC and has written quite a few other works on this subject. Amazon has provided one of its useful "Look Inside" features for this edition so you can get a feel for what is covered.

This is an inexpensive introduction to a fascinating subject which can help you to understand the subtleties of Monty Python! All together "...... John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, on half a pint of shandy was particularly ill. Plato, they say, could stick it away; half a crate of whiskey every day......"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable and Rapid Introduction., 4 July 2012
By 
Bruce "from Brighton" (UK - England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Philosophy (ATM) (Paperback)
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This is a fairly short book and it is very easy to read - it fairly races past and the big ideas keep coming and drawing you in. This is in effect, the exact opposite of the traditional, academic approach to studying Philosophy.

If you start an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, you will be told in no uncertain terms that it is not about the "Meaning Of Life" and you will study the history of the subject from Plato and Aristotle through to the "giants" of the 19th and 20th Century. You will study a large number of long and complex books, along the lines of Being and Time.

Julian Baggini takes a very different approach and attempts to draw in the enquiring reader, through organising his book around the "Big Ideas" of Philosophy and while history isn't entirely ignored; he jumps around across the centuries and passes over large chunks in order to provide a clearer picture.

In other hands, this could be a disaster, but Baggini is indeed both "lucid and accessible" throughout - the way he writes is authoritative, but it's very clear that this is his own personal view. So, he tells us that Hume and Aristotle are his heroes.

This allows the book to be condensed, yet meaningful. He draws you along with him as he tries to enthuse you about the importance of Philosophy. Far from ignoring the question of "the Meaning of Life" he wants to say that it is doing Philosophy which provides us with meaning. He starts by saying that asking the questions of Philosophy is really what marks us out from the other animals and concludes by saying that it is Philosophy that can make us feel our lives have any meaning.

Of course the latter is down to his own personal position of atheism and he thereby is able to ignore huge swathes of Philosophy that have been devoted to Religion over the previous centuries. In fact he is selling us Philosophy as a kind of alternative to Religion. Philosophy can give us an approach to ethics and morality that doesn't depend on any beliefs, but rather on rational analysis.

Given that large areas are ignored, this is obviously intended as more of a jumping-off point to further exploration. The books ends with a "100 ideas" section, which is like a further reading list and does include some books - but also places to visit, films and plays to see, websites to look up etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and Baggini's style of writing. But I can see it is a personal take on the subject which might not appeal to everyone. What comes across is his huge enthusiasm for the subject and how it can be an enyoyable exercise. The book is well-presented, with a logical format and layout.

On the back of the book it says : "What's the Point of it all?" - well, Baggini may not actually answer that - but he has fun trying!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on Aristotle, 28 Aug 2012
By 
Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Philosophy (ATM) (Paperback)
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Philosophy: All That Matters is an excellent introduction to philosophy from an Aristotelian perspective. It is a reasonable introduction to philosophy of science. And, sadly, it is a poor introduction to other aspects of metaphysics.

After a lucid and compelling section on Plato and Aristotle, Julian Baggini comes up short on quotations from Stephen Hawking that "Philosophy is dead" and from Lewis Wolpert that philosophy has taught us nothing which we wouldn't otherwise know. Somehow, after being so clear cut on the Greeks, Baggini starts to dither, offering us a variety of plausible reasons why we should still be interested in philosophy, but not much to convince a sceptical scientist. Part of the problem -- I fear -- is that, in his gentle style, Baggini has only insisted in the first section that Plato and Aristotle are plausible, and therefore has little in the way of weapons to fight a purely a posteriori inductive science. That he skates over Popper's contribution and fixes his attention on Kuhn doesn't really help.

He fares little better on religion, aesthetics, moral philosophy and political philosophy. On religion, he ascribes to all religion a counter-reformation view of falsifiability, and fails to distinguish between that which is disproven (the ontological argument) and others which are simply unfashionable. On aesthetics, he concludes: "I find aesthetics to be at one and the same time one of the most interesting and one of the most pointless branches of philosophy." This, rather sadly, is a fairly good summary of that chapter. As he turns to politics, the influence of Plato and Aristotle becomes steadily more oppressive, with essentially no time given to anything after Hobbes and Rousseau.

I am personally convinced that philosophy has a lot to offer the modern world, and that stronger answers are available to the challenges of Hawking and Wolpert. Unfortunately, having explicitly stated the objections, this 'All that matters' fails to answer them adequately, and the book's decline from that point is inevitable.

Verdict: this is a book about Aristotelian philosophy -- as the author cheerfully admits. For the questions that Aristotle answers well, it has good answers. For later questions, and more searching ones, it does not have a great deal to offer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars All that matters, 27 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Philosophy: All That Matters (Kindle Edition)
A satisfying introduction to the key topics and the questions considered in philosophy. Easily digestible and an enjoyable insight into the puzzle of philosophy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great short guide to key philosophical ideas!, 17 Feb 2013
By 
L. M. Cowan (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Philosophy (ATM) (Paperback)
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I've enjoyed reading other short guides to philosophy, such as the 'Very Short Introduction..' series, in the past and found them thoroughly informative and interesting so when I saw this new title I jumped at the chance to learn a little more about this fascinating subject.

What really made this work interesting for me was that, instead of exploring philosophy via the history of its ideas - as is usually the case, Baggini focuses on the key philosophical themes. In doing so we are presented with a great, detailed overview of philosophical ideas - their development, context, arguments for and against and importantly, the reason why they are relevant in our lives today. I also enjoyed the 100 Ideas section at the end of the book which provides opportunity for further reflection or investigation.

Overall, a great introduction to philosophy that is both accessible and insightful!
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