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VINE VOICEon 24 August 2010
In his Foreword Stephen Law shows how exposure to philosophy can be valuable in everyday life. In the UK in particular philosophy is not given the place in the curriculum that it deserves. Now we have trasnferable skills but they do not capture the full range of philosophical argument. Many people are put off philosophy and think of it as pretentious waffle but Wittgenstein said that with philosophy you can say things plainly and simply (He did not take his own advice).

So this book is a refreshing change as the key ideas are summed up in a single page that is supposed to take 30 seconds to read. While it takes a bit longer than this especially to understand what they mean these are very good "potted versions" of the great ideas.

The articles themselves are written by a series of authors and so there is some variation in their quality and accessibility. So it starts badly with some algebra in Syllogisms which comes from nowhere and is off-putting but keep going. For me the articles by Kati Balog are the best and the clearest and I hope that she goes on to write more books.

In general if you need to know what the big ideas are this is a good place to start.
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Philosophy has a reputation for being obscure, highfaluting, and not terribly practical or useful. However, if one is not easily dismayed by these misconceptions then it's possible to learn a lot about the world and our conceptions of it from studying some of the most interesting philosophical questions. This well designed and well-written short introduction aims to present some of the most thought-provoking ideas from the rich history of philosophy. Whether you have never read any philosophical work or are a seasoned armchair philosopher, you will find many interesting pieces of information within the covers of this book. It provides a brief reference for 50 philosophical concepts or idea. These are explained in short 300 word sections, with an accompanying illustrations and several even shorter references. The topics covered include: Frege's puzzle, Hume's problem of induction, the brain in a vat, Pascal's wager, Plato's cave, and many more. The explanations are very lucid and intuitive, and they only require some good old common sense for the full understanding. The illustrations are done in a mock fifties style and they convey a slight panache for self-irony. The book is printed on a high-quality glossy paper and can almost function as a coffee table book. It makes a nice little reference or can be used as a thoughtful gift.
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on 30 November 2013
It's cleverly written and explains some complex ideas very concisely. I found it irritating however that there was no thread linking each mini-chapter. The effect is a very random and bitty book. Unless you like remembering random pieces of information it's a little disappointing.....
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on 29 May 2011
Great, and probably the best in the series of 30 second books. Good choice if you are considering philosophy as an A Level or topic and want a quick overview of what it's about.
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on 2 April 2014
There are books out there that will give you a succint insight into a range of philosophical works. This isn't one of them. If you know any philosophy at all you already know more than you'll get from this book. And if you don't know anything and just want a quick insight and introduction then you won't be any the wiser after reading it. The thirty second thing is just a gimic masking a trivial and at times plain wrong set of superficial and badly written paragraphs.
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on 23 March 2015
I should say up front that I have a basic understanding of a few of the key philosophical schools of thought, having studied philosophy and literature at university. That was some time ago though and I was keen to brush up on a few things and also get help with distilling some of those theories down into bitesized chunks for retelling to others.

What this book does extremely well is succinctly frame the theory, explain the key players and schools of thought, and provide a satisfactory conclusion to its usefulness and its limitations as a working theory of everything.

You're also encouraged to read on to find more information or dig a little deeper into specific areas. This is vital for re-teaching some of the theories in a classroom environment.

Of course there are better introductions to philosophy, the Edward Craig book spring to mind, but few can give it to you straight in 30 seconds, it's the philosopher's way to stop and head off at tangents or constantly seek to define terms!

If you want something to cast a glance at on a rainy day rather than a definitive start to studying the field thoroughly, you can't go far wrong with this book.
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on 7 February 2013
Ii have this on my kindle and it is such a lovely book to dip into. I am thoroughly enjoying it - and getting some info at the same time
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on 5 November 2015
After I downloaded this book, I wondered if I was really interested in philosophy, but it turns out that I am. I knew virtually nothing about it before I started and now I know a little more, but I did find most of the snippets interesting. A book so short can't give you a grounding in individual theories, but what it can do is whet your appetite for more. What I mostly took from it is an understanding of the range and complexity of the subject and a list of philosophers I would like to know more about.
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on 28 November 2013
Perhaps the title and structure were a little over-ambitious. Summing up philosophers and philosophies in any meaningful way in a 30 second read seemed to me to prove impossible and rather unsatisfying. The section on each 'philosophy was split into three, including a cartoon. I think it would have been a much more interesting book if the '30 second' text on each had been doubled and the peripheral material removed.
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on 28 July 2013
Obvuiously I failed to read the blurb properly, so this is my fault. But not for those who know little about philosophy, you'd be better off getting a dummy's guide.
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