Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (10 Volume Set)

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9780415073103: Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (10 Volume Set)

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy is the most ambitious international philosophy project in many years. Edited by Edward Craig and assisted by thirty specialist subject editors, the REP consists of ten volumes of the world's most eminent philosophers writing for the needs of students and teachers of philosophy internationally. The REP is a project on an unparalleled scale:

  • Over 2000 entries ranging from 500 to 15,000 words in length - thematic, biographical and national
  • 10 volumes consisting of over 5 million words of text plus considerable bibliographic material
  • A Chief Editor and thirty specialist Subject Editors from across the world
  • Over 1200 authors from all over the world.

The importance of the REP is not to be found just in the sheer size of the project but also in its breadth of subject matter. It covers:

  • The core of most Anglo-American philosophy - the metaphysical, epistemological and logical questions
  • The usual menu of ethics, political philosophy and the history of philosophy
  • The philosophy of other cultures - from Chinese, Arabic and Jewish philosophy to the philosophy of Africa and Latin America

The most impressive range of authors have been gathered together on this unique project: William Alston, Roderick Chisolm, Fred Dretske, Joel Feinberg, Sandra Harding, Larry Laudan, Martha Nussbaum, Richard Popkin, Richard Rorty, Alan Ryan, Gyatri Chakravorty Spivak, Stephen Stich, Patrick Suppes and Bernard Williams, to name just a few.

Also available online: www.rep.routledge.com

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Review:

In this 10-volume set, we have a truly global encyclopedia of metaphysical thought--not just philosophy, but theology as well. Although it has noticeable British and American sensibilities, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a multicultural affair with over 2,000 individual articles, including entries for Cheng Hao and Baal Shem Tov along with René Descartes and Immanuel Kant, and it discusses Mahayana Buddhism as ably as it discusses deconstruction theory. Admirable efforts have been made by the individual contributors (all 1,300-plus of them) to maintain such clarity of presentation as to provide a sophisticated yet accessible intellectual primer that requires only a willingness to learn. This is the philosophic equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary, doubling as an indispensable reference and a marvelously indulgent splurge.

From Booklist:

In the more than 30 years since publication of The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Macmillan and The Free Press, 1967), a whole generation of philosophers as well as new and shifting philosophical concerns have made an impact inside and outside the profession. Jean Baudrillard and Walter Benjamin, Daniel Dennett and Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva and Thomas Kuhn, applied ethics and African philosophy, feminism and fuzzy logic, poststructuralism and postmodernism--none of these appeared or, in most cases, should have been expected to appear in the venerable work to which the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy is an unofficial but worthy successor. (The earlier work's editor, Paul Edwards, serves as an advisory editor here.) Also, a generation of scholarship on the perennial questions of philosophy and on the great philosophers of the past is reason enough to welcome a new encyclopedia of this magnitude. Although several recent and excellent one-volume encyclopedias of philosophy have taken up the slack, it was not their purpose to do so with anything like the thoroughness of this new set. Editor Craig has overseen 32 subject editors in providing more than 2,000 articles from more than 1,300 contributors. The result is a multivolume work packed with features that make most entries accessible and informative to academically oriented high-school students and professional philosophers alike.

Main entries cover an intriguingly broad range of philosophical concepts (a posteriori, absolutism, alienation, hope, love), fields of study and geographically or chronologically oriented overviews (aesthetics, Chinese; agricultural ethics; analytical philosophy in Latin America; archaeology, philosophy of; Egyptian cosmology, ancient philosophers) (Albert the Great, Aristotle, Ibn Bajja, Robert Nozick), and relevant nonphilosophers (Darwin, Freud, Homer, Ptolemy, Thucydides). Some of the more unexpected main entries include engineering and ethics; photography, aesthetics of; sport, philosophy of; and Yoruba epistemology. While there is still some Western and Anglo-American bias in the choice of entries (the great majority of contributors are from the English-speaking world, primarily the U.S. and the U.K.), the inclusion of "world" philosophies is admirable. As stated in the preface, "Chinese, Japanese and Korean, Indian and Tibetan, Jewish, Arabic and Islamic, Russian, Latin American and African philosophy have between them 400 entries."

Entries range in length from 500 to 19,000 words and share a uniform format designed to assist a wide range of users. Each begins with an italicized overview of the topic ranging from a paragraph for shorter entries to more than a page for the longest, such as those on Augustine, Kant, and Leibniz; these overviews provide "essential information, written where at all possible in a relatively undemanding way." An outline of topics, with numbers corresponding to the section headings to follow, precedes each main article, which is much more detailed than the overview and assumes "a somewhat more experienced reader." A list of references and sources for further reading follows each entry, and a list of primary sources follows each biographical entry. In every case these sources are annotated with at least a phrase or sentence describing the emphasis and/or importance of the work. Because many encyclopedia entries were submitted to the editors several years ago, care was taken to ensure that authors had the opportunity to update bibliographies before publication; as a result, the reader will find many titles from the mid-1990s included on the reading lists. Cross-references are found within, between, and at the end of entries. Volume 1 begins with the editor's preface and acknowledgments, short professional biographies of the editorial board members, a guide to using the encyclopedia, and a list of entries and their contributors. The guide and the list of entries (without their contributors) are repeated in each volume. Volume 5 includes a 16-page glossary of logical and mathematical terms. Volume 10 is an index of more than 78,000 entries preceded by a list of contributors with their affiliations and entries.

A few words about the pricing are in order. The 10-volume set will sell for $2,495 until the end of October, after which time it will sell for $2,995. A CD-ROM version, containing the complete text of the print version, may be used by up to 10 simultaneous users at one campus; it is available at the same cost as the print version or, if purchased with the print version, for $500 extra. Craig notes that the electronic version, "being relatively simple to update . . . could be the ancestor of a long line of subsequent editions."

As this seven-year undertaking is likely to be the definitive encyclopedia of philosophy for the next generation, it is highly recommended for academic libraries and other institutions where philosophy in any of its forms is likely to be of interest. Acquisition of this work should not be seen as an occasion for retiring the earlier Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which remains a reliable guide to the great philosophers and philosophies of the past.

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