If you have please could you tell me…
. what your favourite part was and why
. What you learnt from reading it
. Which was the most interesting section to you and why
? Favorite Answer
The book has much to commend it. It clearly delineates a number of key topics. It attempts to show a back and forth of the various ideas held on these topics. For the most part, the writing is light, the explanations easy to understand. There are a number of brief excerpts from actual source material along with commentary on them to help us understand what is meant and how it might fit in to the modern world. Blackburn starts with Descartes and the modern age of philosophy rather than boring us with page upon page of medieval or ancient philosophy that is almost impossible to understand in an introduction to philosophy because of the sheer amount of context such material requires to be understood.
The downside is that Blackburn, despite his protestations to the contrary, doesn’t do a very even handed job of presenting differences of opinions. He is quite clearly an atheist of the liberal English analytic school. Even if you agree with his positions — and I do for the most part — you still wish for a slight more equitable treatment in an introduction. This bias informs most of his commentary; there is a lot of Hume and virtually no Kant, and no other German idealists at all. I understand that the book is a slim volume and cannot be comprehensive, even as an introduction, of the various schools of modern philosophical thought. However, Blackburn spends far more time defending his favorite points of view than he does ones he disapproves of; the chapter on God is the most egregious example of this. However, as long as the reader uses some critical thinking I think the book is still useful as a KIND of introduction. With the caveat that the reader doesn’t stop here and instead continues on to learn more about the viewpoints Blackburn gives short shrift. Perhaps there is no such thing as a perfect one-book introduction to a field of study like philosophy.
There are few other smaller complaints about the book. The chapter on logic was one of the weakest. The explanations were often hard to follow. Only inductive logic is mentioned, despite the predominant role deductive logic has had for the past several thousand years (again, I think this is an example of Blackburn’s bias showing). The final chapter, however, was by far the weakest. It was almost entirely Blackburn’s personal opinion. Unlike every other chapter in the book it is devoid of references to major philosophers and excerpts from their works. It feels completely out of place given the rest of the book. Also it would be nice if Blackburn had given a recommended reading list. After all, if he has done his job the reader should now hunger to read more about philosophy. But where to go? Are we to dive straight into the source material? But which Locke do we start with? Or perhaps Kant comes first? There is no guidance from Blackburn on this relatively important issue for the self-guided neophyte.
In all, this is a decent introduction, if not a great one. It’s strongest point are that it is easy to read, which is a very strong point indeed in an introduction to philosophy.
Sorry,I have not read it.