I read this book along with the companion (Philosophy 2) during the summer of 2017. I read a chapter a day which was far too fast a pace to get any decent understanding but still I feel I learned enough to realise that:
1) analytical philosophy is not some fluffy, airy-fairy, anything goes type of nonsense, and 2) I need to go back and give these books a proper effort.
These books were written back in the 1990s for students taking part in a distance learning philosophy degree from a top-notch UK university, and it shows.
I have always found AC Grayling an interesting lecturer and writer whose lecturing style varies little from his writing; it is succinct, to the point and informative whose dependent and subordinate clauses rarely forget to what they are subordinate, unlike some writers and speakers.
He knows his subject well, obviously enjoys it and writes in ways which convey both these essential elements in a writer. As the name suggests, it is a guide, not an idiot's guide but ideal for mugging up subjects, philosophers or schools quickly and an ideal companion for more intensive reading.
I look forward to Volume 2 but, in view of the publication date and all that has been written since (most of which I have) and in the light of his new venture,setting up a liberal arts university, I will not hold my breath.
For anyone who needs another guide, I recommend the following:
RUSSELL, Bertrand, "A History of Western Philosophy", Routledge Classic, 1945 (latest edition 2004) AYER, AJ, "Philosophy in the Twentieth Century", Counterpoint/Unwin Paperbacks, 1982 (latest edition 1992. STOKES, Philip, "100 Essential Thinkers", Arcturus Publishing (2003)
The latter is a very quick guide to the philosophers - one page per philosopher - but it is still worth the time and investment if a very general introduction is what is required.
This is an excellent compendium of articles on various aspects of philosophy. For any philosophical topic on an undergraduate degree there is an introductory article. Most of the articles find that difficult balance of being philosophically useful and interesting, whislt being concise and approachable by anyone approaching a particular topic for the first time. It would be false to claim that all the chapters are equally good and there are one or two weakers sections, but overall this mostly maintains a high standard.
Those of us currently studying philosophy will know what a nightmare a reading list can often be. I for one have often ploughed through many a book without actually understanding a word of what I have read. Perusing the relevant topic in this book is generally enough to give me a good grounding to go on and tackle the rest of the reading matter. Not only that but it never oversimplifies, treading the fine line between ease of understanding, and real usefulness.
This book is fantastic, it aids your understanding of the subject in a way that is not too basic and simple as to insult your intelligence. As the guy who reviewed this book first said, it is ideal to use in addition to the main texts that you are reading in terms of understanding the main points that the author's trying to get across. 10 out of 10!!!!