Historical Introduction to Philosophy

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9780131900059: Historical Introduction to Philosophy

This text/anthology is designed to lead beginning students to an appreciation of Western philosophy through an exploration of its history, the problems (classical questions) it has dealt with, and the major philosophers and their works within that historical setting.

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This anthology is designed to lead beginning students/readers to an appreciation of Western philosophy through an exploration of its history, the problems (classical questions) it has dealt with, and the major philosophers and their works within that historical setting. Coverage spans 2000 years of Western philosophy—from the predecessors of Socrates to the present day— and contains 33 profiles of individual philosophers representing the four major periods—ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary. In reading through a varied anthology of primary works for each philosopher—set within historical context—readers can trace the actual thought processes involved in doing philosophy.

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Preface

This fourth edition of Historical Introduction to Philosophy has been made in light of the recommendations of a number of users of the earlier editions, chiefly with regard to making it more obviously manageable in a one semester course. To that end, the material formerly presented in the chapters on Anselin, Maimonides, Nicholas of Cusa, and W.V. Quine has been worked in elsewhere; selections from Descartes' Meditations are now given instead of the complete text; and other minor elisions in the readings have also been made. These reductions allowed for a new final chapter on several important current authors. The bibliography was deemed much too extensive for introductory students, but some bibliographical recommendations have been subjoined at the end of each chapter.

The format of the fourth edition remains the same as the previous ones. The text material spans 2,500 years of Western philosophy, extending from the predecessors of Socrates to the present day. Introductions to each of the four periods—ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary—provide a synopsis of each age, describe its intellectual milieu, and trace the development of philosophy throughout the period. For the most part, each chapter is devoted to a single philosopher and begins with a presentation of his life and work. The readings offer a representative selection of the philosopher's work. The substantial and broad-ranging anthology gives students the flavor of the philosopher's writings and allows professors to tailor the material to their courses. Questions for discussion or review come at the end of each chapter. At the end of the book, a glossary of key terms and a detailed index are to be found for ready reference. An alternate table of contents—the Table of Problems—provides a separate reference to the problems discussed in the readings and can be used to pursue a particular theme or subject of interest. Historical Introduction to Philosophy thus lends itself as a practical and pliable text to instructors in a variety of teaching styles, course objectives, and classroom contexts.

To my colleagues in the Department of Philosophy at Seton Hall University, and to the many others, already gratefully mentioned for their help in preparing the previous editions of this text, I should like to add the names of Richard Liddy and Vicente Medina for their critical reading of the entries on Susanne Langer and John Rawls, respectively. Thanks also to the anonymous readers engaged by the publishers to reassure them that making a new edition available is once again worthy of their logo.

ABH

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