Topics: Epistemology, Mind, Thought Pages: 238 (89438 words) Published: January 7, 2013
A compelling introduction to philosophy
by Simon Blackburn
eVersion 3.0 / Notes at EOF

Back Cover:

"Blackburn has produced the one book every smart person should read to understand, and even enjoy, the key questions of philosophy, ranging from those about free will and morality to what we can really know about the world around us." -- Walter Isaacson, Time Magazine

"This is a wonderfully stimulating, incisive and -- the word is not too strong -- thrilling introduction to the pleasures and problems of philosophy." -- John Banville, Irish Times

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© Simon Blackburn 1999

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First published 1999

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ISBN 0-19-210024-6 (hbk.)
ISBN 0-19-969087-1 (pbk.)

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This book grew from years of wrestling with the problems of trying to interest people in ideas. I have done this as a teacher, but also as someone who has tried to explain the value of the humani-ties in general, and philosophy in particular, to a wider audience. Indeed my first debt is to the climate of the times, whose scepticism about the value of higher education made it evident to me just how urgent this task is. A second, more serious debt is to all the students of many years, whose nods and frowns eventually shaped the book. I also owe a debt to teaching assistants here at the University of North Carolina, who had first-hand experience of engaging stu-dents in earlier versions of the work. I would never have taken the plunge, however, had it not been for the generous encouragement of Catherine Clarke and Angus Phillips, at Oxford University Press. Angus has closely monitored the progress of the work, and I owe much to his support and advice.

Earlier versions of the material have been read by Huw Price and Ralph Walker, who each provided invaluable suggestions. Yuri Balashov and Dan Ryder gave me help with specific topics. For the sake of brevity I have not included a glossary of philosophical terms, which would in any case have echoed definitions found in my Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.

The superb editing of Maura High and Angela Blackburn gave me an uncomfortable sense of my shortcomings as a writer, while happily disguising them from the wider public. Angela, of course, had also to suffer the usual burdens of having a writing husband, and without her support nothing would have been possible.

Simon Blackburn


1. Knowledge
2. Mind
3. Free...
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