Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology

Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology

Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology

Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology


Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology, Second Edition, is a remarkably accessible and engaging introduction to philosophy. Steven M. Cahn brings together extraordinarily clear, recent essays by noted philosophers and supplements them with influential historical sources. Mostimportantly, the articles have been carefully edited to make them understandable to every reader. The topics are drawn from the major fields of philosophy and include knowledge and skepticism, freedom and determinism, mind and body, the existence of God, the problem of evil, cultural relativism,abortion, euthanasia, democracy, capital punishment, affirmative action, and the meaning of life. Exploring Philosophy, Second Edition, contains, in preeminent translations and with explanatory notes, the complete texts of Plato's Meno, Euthyphro, Defence of Socrates, and Crito as well as specially selected materials by Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Mill. The secondedition has been expanded to present the material on knowledge and mind in two separate sections; the latter contains an essay on artificial intelligence by John Searle and updated selections on the mind-body problem by Thomas Nagel, Gilbert Ryle, and Richard Taylor. This edition also adds essays bySimon Blackburn, Martin Luther King, Jr., Norman Malcolm, and Robert McKim, and additional excerpts from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. An introduction to logic and scientific method and guiding commentary by the editor are also provided. Exploring Philosophy, Second Edition, is a landmarkcollection that enables all readers to appreciate for themselves the importance and fascination of philosophical inquiry.


Those who begin the study of philosophy may easily become discouraged. Many classic texts are daunting in their complexity, and much contemporary writing is intended primarily for a professional audience.

A few prominent philosophers of our day write in a style understandable by all, but nonspecialists are often left unaware of this work. They may never realize that serious discussion of central problems of philosophy can proceed without arcane terminology, unexplained references, or convoluted arguments.

The guiding principle of this book is that reading clear, recent essays by noted philosophers, along with the most accessible and influential historical sources, offers an inviting avenue to the subject. Here many of these materials have been shortened to sharpen their focus and make them easier to understand. Nevertheless, four Dialogues of Plato and the first two Meditations of Descartes are presented unabridged.

The issues I have chosen to include are drawn from numerous fields of philosophy, but the emphasis is not on covering all areas or viewpoints. Rather, I have sought selections that offer fair accounts of differing opinions. The authors, however, defend their own positions, and readers may disagree. In these matters no one has the last word; discussion will continue. But at least what these writers have to say is comprehensible, and I hope their straightforwardness will encourage an understanding of philosophical inquiry and an appreciation of its importance and fascination. The historical sources, which are grouped together, present more difficulty than the other selections and can be omitted entirely without having any effect on the continuity of the contemporary readings.

Finally, note that some of these selections were written when the custom was to use the noun “man” and the pronoun “he” to refer to all persons, regardless of sex. With this proviso, let us now embark on exploring philosophy.

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