Philosophy and Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy

Philosophy and Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy

Philosophy and Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy

Philosophy and Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy


This revised and updated edition of a standard work provides a clear and authoritative survey of the Western tradition in metaphysics and epistemology from the Presocratics to the present day. Aimed at the beginning student, it presents the ideas of the major philosophers and their schools of thought in a readable and engaging way, highlighting the central points in each contributor's doctrines and offering a lucid discussion of the next-level details that both fills out the general themes and encourages the reader to pursue the arguments still further through a detailed guide to further reading. Whether John Shand is discussing the slow separation of philosophy and theology in Augustine, Aquinas and Ockham, the rise of rationalism, British empiricism, German idealism or the new approaches opened up by Russell, Sartre and Wittgenstein, he combines succinct but insightful exposition with crisp critical comment. This new edition will continue to provide students with a valuable work of initial reference.


The aim of this book is to give an introduction to Western philosophy through its past, both distant and more recent, and to serve as a useful work for more advanced students of philosophy. The subject of philosophy is presented in this book by studying the thought of major philosophers and by concentrating on what are generally regarded as the central areas of philosophy: the nature of philosophy itself, the theory of knowledge (epistemology) and the essential nature of reality (metaphysics). It is hoped that this work will satisfy the curiosity of those who want to understand what philosophy is and will provide a key to further study of philosophy and philosophers. To aid the reader in further study an extensive annotated bibliography is included, which serves as a guide primarily to works by and about the philosophers considered in this book, although it also includes reference to more general works in philosophy.

The various chapters and sections within the book can be usefully read in isolation, since they are relatively autonomous, although there is an additional cumulative beneficial effect that results from reading right through the book in order.

It is impossible to deal with every controversy over interpretation. However, every attempt has been made to be clear and accurate. The general approach to each philosopher considered is to present an account that tries to make their views hang together convincingly, rather than subject them to intense critical dissection. There are, however, some critical observations which naturally arise from exposition.

It is difficult to give an account of the defining features of philosophy. The reason for the difficulty in answering the question of what philosophy is paradoxically provides an answer of sorts. An essential part of philosophy is the extent to which it reassesses its own nature. Philosophy tends to ask extremely broad and fundamental questions, and it raises problemtion

Aiming at seeing to it that everyone obtains the rich rewards available in today’s information-centred realities, this book sets out to help ensure that the myriad changing and pressing information needs people have are actually met by the unbelievable cornucopia of information resources surrounding us 24/7 in the office, home, coffee bar, place of recreation and train. A timely undertaking indeed, for there is good deal of evidence to suggest that in the ‘Information Wild West’ in which we find ourselves, there is a growing risk of information systems running wild – and running free of the information seeker. For, ironically enough, whilst the information that flows continuously through society now should be its lifeblood, people’s understanding, appreciation and evaluation of it seems to have become materially poorer. In fact, members of today’s information society, happily exercising their new-found options in the internet-redefined and vastly widened virtual information space, seem to manifest a dumbing down in their information-seeking and reading behaviour. This not in the least because the very act of switching the information tap on to everyone inevitably took the information professional out of the information equation. To coin a phrase, everyone has become a librarian, but, unfortunately, few people know how to behave like a librarian; instead they behave like e-shoppers.

This book constitutes a small step towards avoiding the disaster looming on our horizons in result of this behaviour. It does this in two ways. Firstly, by providing information professionals and information service providers with a . . .

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