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Zeno and the Tortoise: How to Think Like a Philosopher

Nicholas Fearn

236 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0802139175 / ISBN 13: 9780802139177
Published by Atlantic Monthly Press, 2002
Used Condition: Used: Good Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Zeno and the Tortoise: How to Think Like a ...

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Used: Good

About this title

Synopsis:

For those who don't know the difference between Lucretius's spear and Hume's fork, Zeno and the Tortoise explains not just who each philosopher was and what he thought, but exactly how he came to think in the way he did. Nicholas Fearn presents philosophy as a collection of tools -- the tricks of a trade that, in the end, might just be all tricks, each to be fruitfully applied to a variety of everyday predicaments. In a witty and engaging style that incorporates everything from Sting to cell phones to Bill Gates, Fearn demystifies the ways of thought that have shaped and inspired humanity -- among many others, the Socratic method, Descartes's use of doubt, Bentham's theory of utilitarianism, Rousseau's social contract, and, of course, the concept of common sense. Along the way, there are fascinating biographical snippets about the philosophers themselves: the story of Thales falling down a well while studying the stars, and of Socrates being told by a face-reader that his was the face of a monster who was capable of any crime. Written in twenty-five short chapters, each readable during the journey to work, Zeno and the Tortoise is the ideal course in intellectual self-defense. Acute, often irreverent, but always authoritative, this is a unique introduction to the ideas that have shaped us all. "Entertaining and witty. A smooth, sweet concoction that should tickle the taste buds of the most philosophobic readers." -- Julian Boggini, The Times Educational Supplement (U.K.) "A concise and entertaining attempt to place the skills of philosophy at our fingertips." -- Olivier Burckhardt, The Independent on Sunday (U.K.)

Review:

Think of Zeno and the Tortoise as a toolbox for aspiring thinkers. Author Nicholas Fearn aims to leave readers with an array of handy instruments at their disposal, whether Ockham's razor, Hume's fork, or Nietzsche's hammer. "The object," he writes, "is to show not merely what the great philosophers thought, but to demonstrate how they thought." In addition to supplying readers with the building blocks of philosophical reasoning, Fearn offers a summary history of Western philosophy running from the pre-Socratics through medieval and modern philosophy and up to Derrida. Along the way students will encounter Zeno's reductio ad absurdum, the Socratic method, Cartesian demons, and a number of other elemental concepts drawn from the last 2,500 years of inquiry. The short chapters lack something in depth, but account for it with context and clarity aimed at the nonphilosopher. Zeno and the Tortoise is a sugarcoated introduction to the principal forms of philosophical reasoning that will be especially appreciated by newcomers to philosophy. --Eric de Place

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