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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 28 January 2000
I came across this book while revising for my Philosophy Finals at Oxford and wished I'd known about it 3 years earlier!
Nagel tackles nine major philosophical issues using a succint, accurate and accessible style. His discussions inevitably dovetail towards his understanding of the problem under consideration (which prompts his solution) but this is due to the very essence of philosophical discourse - to define and outline the problem accurately is often more contentious than analysing or 'solving' it! Nagel lays open these major philosophical problems with great skill. A newcomer to philosophy may well find the question 'What can we know?' ridiculous but after reading Nagel's chapter (which, as he says, is suitable for the intelligent high school pupil upwards) on the subject he should begin to appreciate the grave difficulties posed by such a query.
The best thing about this book is that, unlike many other introductions to the subject, it is a book written by one of the most respected philosopher's of our time and its text consists of philosophising in its own right - it does not just give a potted history of Western philosophy as the majority do, yet it remains easily accessible and comprehendible. (Both types of text are useful but I have come across few books with this focus.)
This book is ideal for anyone, from A level student upwards, who wants to know a bit more about philosophy and is an excellent preparation and companion for anyone about to begin studying the subject. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
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on 6 July 2007
Nagel is well known for the clarity of his thought and writing. This small book is an excellent read for someone with little knowledge of philosophy. The topics are broad and interesting yet, by the end, you will be much closer to knowing whether you find philosophy interesting as a subject.

This book is well suited to its target audience: people with little experience of philosophy who would like to explore some very interesting ideas - and to see if philosophy is suited to them.

If you have already studied philosophy you will almost certainly find this a little too basic. If so, pick another of Nagel's books (he is a truly great and interesting thinker).
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on 29 November 1999
I have tried a number of books on philosophy which are suppose to "ease" the reader into philosophy but of all the books i`v read this is the most easy to use. I find myself going back to it again,and again. The author seem to genuinly want you to find philosophy interesting, and, it works ! I cant reccommend this book enought , the only down side is that the author leads you to his conclusions , but for someone like me, who is just starting out in philosophy this book is a godsent, and one i will return to again , and again .
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on 11 September 2008
Just finished reading this book. I think it's great for beginners in philosophy as it isnt too complex. It's really easy to read and to understand where Nagel is coming from. He doesnt waffle on too much like some other philosophers. I'd recommend this book to people with no philosophical background, even teenagers as it isnt too academic. This book really gets you thinking about the issues raised in the book. Overall, it's an easy read and I'd thoroughly recommend it.
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on 15 May 2000
Its not often that you can find an "Introduction to Philosophy" that isn't a) dull as dishwater or b) impossibly crpytic or c) both.
This book doesn't try to tackle all of the fundamentals of philsophy but merely takes a look at a few issues, studies them and gives a little insight into the kind of logic abnd reasoning behind philosophical argument.
If your thinking about "getting into" philosophy - at whatever level - this book is certainly worth a look.
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on 7 October 2000
This book is excellent in giving an initial summary of several philosophical propositions. For a small (in pages) book it requires you to read it aver and over again to grasp the arguments proposed by the writer. If on your death bed you want to know "what was that all about" then buy this book.
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on 6 August 2010
If you want a gentle introduction to Philosophy, try this. It doesn't bamboozle you with lots of jargon but simply and concisely provides a good overview. I read it and then wanted to find out more - it encouraged me to delve a bit deeper. A keeper.
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on 15 January 2016
I'm reading this and another much older philosophy book at the moment. Can't help thinking of the song, 'there are more questions than answers'. Anyhow I'm plodding along and the book is - throwing up a lot of questions, which is why I bought it. If you believe ignorance is bliss don't buy this book.
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on 18 March 2015
I recommend this book to anyone showing any philosophical tendencies. It was on the list of 'books to read before you start the course' in my philosophy degree, and rightly so.

It sets out the major questions of philosophy in a very accessible way. Very easy to read, doesn't assume any prior knowledge and really makes things easy to understand. This really deserves to be renowned as a classic up there with Russell's (slightly more academic) "The problems of philosophy".
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on 31 July 1999
The small size of this book belies its value as an introduction to some basic issues of philosophy. How do we know anything?, Why should we be moral?, and other such questions are pondered. I was a little disappointed in the brevity of this work (hence only a four-crown rating) but this is still an invaluable purchase for the new/amateur philosopher!
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