This lively and engaging audiobook is the ideal introduction for anyone who has ever been puzzled by what philosophy is or what it is for. Edward Craig argues that philosophy is not an activity born from another planet; learning about it is just a matter of broadening and deepening what most of us do already. He shows that philosophy is no mere intellectual pastime: Thinkers such as Plato, Buddhist writers, Descartes, Hobbes, Hume, Hegel, Mill, and de Beauvoir were responding to real needs and events, much of their work shapes our lives today and many of their concerns are still ours.
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This was an enjoyable introduction to Philosophy. In fact I listened to it twice and will probably listen to it again.
I didn't know too much about philosophy when beginning the book, although I had listened to several of the books in the 90-minute series (Aristotle in 90 Minutes, etc.) over the past few months. I think this contributed to my enjoyment of the book and helped me to get more out of it. For me, this book tied some loose ends together. It talked about the questions that philosophers seek to answer and explained the different approaches (empiricism and rationalism; idealism and materialism, etc.) of a few significant philosophers.
It wasn't comprehensive but it covered a good deal and so I think it was worth it.
Since I began studying philosophy many years ago I have been asked on multiple occasions by friends and family to recommend an introduction to the subject. Until this book was published I had difficulty choosing, but for me this is by far the best.
Before this book was available I would probably have chosen one of two old favourites - Nagel's 'What Does it All Mean?' or Russell's 'Problems of Philosophy' - which are both classic introductions but a little bit stale. Or perhaps I would have gone for Blackburn's 'Think', which is much fresher in tone but still very solid in content. However none of those books stands up to Craig's introduction for the following reasons.
First of all, you can be in no doubt as to the calibre of your guide. Craig hasn't published widely and is not a glamour figure in philosophical circles, but when he does write it is routinely excellent. He was also general editor of the multi-volume Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, itself an incredible achievement, and is a very popular figure at Cambridge University where he still lectures - both for the quality of his teaching and his down-to-earth nature, quite rare in a professional philosopher. Personal admiration aside, the point is that having this guy in your corner is very reassuring as he guides you through the subject.
Secondly, he really tries to give you a feel for what studying philosophy is actually like. By guiding you through important philosophical texts and drawing out the ideas and themes from there, he is encouraging you to do exactly what philosophers have always done, and continue to do. He isn't describing philosophy to you, so that you are a mere spectator, he is helping you to take part. And that, ultimately, is what it's all about.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Craig succeeds in conveying the ideas clearly, in plain language but without undue simplification. That is the big challenge that all introductions to the subject ultimately stand and fall by.
This book is motivating (i.e. it’s a guide for further study) and it helps to clear away some misconceptions (e.g. the “unimportance” of philosophy).
Here, Edward Craig discusses some philosophical questions using selections of classical texts. The way he approaches the texts (questioning, thinking, doubting etc.) is truly philosophical. He writes in clear friendly style, always encouraging us to continue our journey.
Worth noticing: Maurice West has done an extremely competent reading. Naxos has provided us an excellent audio book.
CRAIG, E.: PHILOSOPHY - A Very Short Introduction (Abridged)
1. Philosophy / A very short introduction
2. What should I do? / Plato’s Crito
3. How do we know? / Hume’s Of Miracles
4. What am I? / An unknown Buddhist on the self: King Milinda’s chariot
5. Some themes
6. Of ‘isms’
7. Some more high spots / A personal selection
8. What’s in it for Whom?
Where to go next?
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Yes, this is a good listen and it makes a difficult subject clear to the layman.
I do not know anyone else who is interested in philosophy, but if I did I would recommend this as a primer.
Clear, understandable, nicely paced.
Audible has an entire series on the key philosophers, which i recommend, but listen to this book first. I also bought a text book on the discussion of the great philosophers. People do not want to understand the development of philosophical thought, but these people develop for the rest of us how we think about the world around us.
I'm a layperson who has always considered philosophy to be interesting but I've never gotten around to studying it before this.
During the first hour, I almost abandoned the book. The author spends 25 minutes desperately trying to convince the audience that philosophy is relevant and important and then proceeds to spend the next 40 minutes describing and analyzing some ancient conversation by Socrates. I couldn't help but think "If anything, this enforces my stereotypes about how far the philosophers are from real world issues".
After that, however, everything changes. The author begins explaining different schools of thought, the basic tenets, and - perhaps most importantly - their historical context and significance. The rest of the book is thought-provoking and provides a good starting point to delve deeper into the subject. (I certainly intend to read more from some of the philosophers the author recommends towards the end)
Author Craig offers a very basic, yet quite comprehensive, review of philosophical positions through the ages. He cautions the reader to concentrate on the classic philosophical beliefs rather than the current trend toward 'pop' (my word) philosophical writings. Quite enjoyable.
The book offers an overview of Philosophy. Some importants subjects are exposed (How do we know? What is philosophy?). Some philosophers receive special atention (e.g., Descartes). The vocabulary of philosophy is explained and importants concepts are examined. The text is well written, but lacks a more systematic approach. The performance is clear and in British pronunciation.
This book does exactly as it promises: it provides the listener with a fantastic introduction, albeit from 35,000 feet, into the fascinating topic of Philosophy. It goes into sufficient details to encourage the listener to delve further into each of the topics for which it provide overviews. Easy to listen to, it is one of the best narrated audio books that I have had the pleasure to hear. I highly recommend this title.
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