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A novel approach to the history of philosophy
on 20 January 2013
Gaarder's work has proved to be a huge success in the market, selling many copies and achieving critical acclaim. This is also represented in the frequency with which it is cited as one of the best introductions to philosophy, according to those who have read it.
This, however, seems to have been a rather inflated truth and one which sets up great expectations which the book simply cannot deliver on. The novel structure of the book may have been inviting to a wider audience than perhaps philosophy is used to, yet the actual effect is somewhat less attractive. Gaarder's prose is often reminiscent of teen literature and does little to embellish the story line, which is also problematic and often vague. This is a personal interpretation, however, and ought not to discourage others from enjoying it if the prose style is of little consequence.
The real highlight of this book, though this is not much of a highlight still, is the philosophical teachings that Knox espouses. However, this seems to be superficial and often cannot cite arguments for the conclusions. In this way, the point of real philosophising is often left to a few criticisms under the guise of Sophie's incredulity. Overall, it has to be said that if the reader's intention is to have a very simple level of understanding and an easy read, this is definitely the correct book.
Overall, Sophie's world is an enjoyable entry-level work and has the possibility of provoking real philosophical thought and reading. For this, as well as the basic introduction and novel approach, it has earned three stars.