Top positive review
18 people found this helpful
This is an excellent book. I would seriously recommend it.
on 28 September 2000
By Aliosho Archer-Diana ... International School of Toulouse
The Philosophy Files is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking books that I have ever read. It also manages to be very funny and amusing at the same time. In his introduction the author clearly explains exactly what philosophical questions are and that it is his intention to pose questions in order to get the reader to think and figure out the answers for himself rather than presenting ready-made answers. I would say that this is exactly what he manages to achieve.
This is a book that challenges and stimulates. It is divided into eight chapters or files, each one of which covers a different and separate topic. This means that you can delve in at any point that appeals to you at any particular time. The author discusses important philosophical questions such as does God exist, how do we know the world is not one big dream, what makes us ourselves rather then someone else and where does morality come from. He presents us with many different arguments that are often put forward and he argues his own point of view to support or discount commonly held theories. However, as he emphasises in his introduction "the important thing in philosophy is to think for yourself," which means that we are free to disagree with him if we wish and to make up our own minds.
The author uses different techniques to introduce and develop his arguments and theories. He invents characters and personalities and tells us fun stories to illustrate the points he wants to make. For example, in the file about eating meat, he tells us the story of Errol the explorer who was eaten by some cannibals because he could not find sufficiently sound reasons to explain why it would be morally wrong for them to kill and eat him while he himself considered it to be perfectly alright to kill and eat other animals. In the end Errol is barbequed and eaten and the cannibals enjoy some 'After eights' they find in his rucksack whilst sitting around the fire chatting. This is one of my favourite parts of the book and in fact I found myself disagreeing with his cannibal argument. I thought it was not such a valid theory because it is quite rare for any animals to prey on their own species there is a difference between animals eating their own species and relying on eating other species in the food chain. Nevertheless it was a very thought provoking idea and handled in a very amusing way.
The stories are lively and colourful, full of humour and fun. The illustrations throughout the book add a further funny and whimsical dimension. In fact the illustrations by Daniel Postgate are in my view, a major contribution to the success of the book.
The language is up-to-date and modern and the author manages to present difficult theories in a style which is clear, easy to understand and amusing without simplifying things or diluting the philosophical ideas too much or talking down to the reader.