Thinking it Through is a thorough, vividly written introduction to contemporary philosophy and some of the most crucial questions of human existence, including the nature of mind and knowledge, the status of moral claims, the existence of God, the role of science, and the mysteries of language. Noted philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah shows us what it means to "do" philosophy in our time and why it should matter to anyone who wishes to live a more thoughtful life. Opposing the common misconceptions that being a philosopher means espousing a set of philosophical beliefsor being a follower of a particular thinkerAppiah argues that "the result of philosophical exploration is not the end of inquiry in a settled opinion, but a mind resting more comfortably among many possibilities, or else the reframing of the question, and a new inquiry."
Ideal for introductory philosophy courses, Thinking It Through is organized around eight central topicsmind, knowledge, language, science, morality, politics, law, and metaphysics. It traces how philosophers in the past have considered each subject (how Hobbes, Wittgenstein, and Frege, for example, approached the problem of language) and then explores some of the major questions that still engage philosophers today. More importantly, Appiah not only explains what philosophers have thought but how they think, giving students examples that they can use in their own attempts to navigate the complex issues confronting any reflective person in the twenty-first century. Filled with concrete examples of how philosophers work, Thinking it Through guides students through the process of philosophical reflection and enlarges their understanding of the central questions of human life.
Known to the larger public as a key figure in Harvard's African American studies program and the author of In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture, Appiah is now a professor of philosophy at Princeton. He begins by denying that he has "a philosophy" in the sense of a world picture and a guide to life. Quasi-logical issues are not so hard to understand as one might think, and here Appiah explicates them in a lively and entertaining guide, devoting much of his attention to puzzles about knowledge and the game-theoretic view of politics. Appiah's speculative politics begin with Hobbes's view that human life is a war of all against all and modifies it through a discussion of John Rawls. Logical issues predominate: Is "God" a proper name? How can we talk about "existence" (divine or otherwise)? The logic of Hume's treatment of the design argument is pursued. But God remains elusive, and the immortality of the soul does not intrude. One need not be an academic to enjoy this book. But though it may open new worlds, some may wonder where the philosophy has gone.-Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa, Ont. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.