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What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Nagel
4.8 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (4 Kundenrezensionen)

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'If someone confronts you with the problem "Get me an introduction to philosophy and I have only one evening free to read it", I can recommend Thomas Nagel's introduction. If for the umpteemth time you are asked "What is philosophy all about", tell him or her to read this book... how would you go about explaining the complex relation between a determinisic world-view and the free will problem? Thomas Nagel shows how it can be done and quite impressively so.'Philosophica 'His style is clear and free of technical terms, and the book should appeal to those who know little or nothing of the discipline.' Library Journal 'Mr Nagel is well known among academic philosophers for bringng the clarity and rigor of analytic philosophy to such "large" philosophical questions.' Roger Kimball, 'The author is blessed with an ability rare in his discipline to combine rigour with good humour, and variety of approach with simplicity of expression. The most welcome thing about the book is that it presents the core questions of philosophy to the beginner without the deterrent baggage of names and -isms.' Anne McElvoy, The Times 'I don't know how many will find their way into philosophy via Nagel's Very Short Introduction, but it will be enough fully to justify the efforts of everyone involved.' Times Literary Supplement 'His style is deceptively simple, concealing the profundity of the thought, and is luminously clear. His chatty, easy way of writing goes with a rigorous logic of argument ... Nagel has given us an admirable challenge to what the Greeks called 'the unexamined life'.' Cogito


Should the hard questions of philosophy matter to ordinary people? In this down-to-earth, nonhistorical guide, Thomas Nagel, the distinguished author of Mortal Questions and The View From Nowhere, brings philosophical problems to life, revealing in vivid, accessible prose why they have continued to fascinate and baffle thinkers across the centuries.
Arguing that the best way to learn about philosophy is to tackle its problems head-on, Nagel turns to some of the most important questions we can ask about ourselves. Do we really have free will? Why should we be moral? What is the relation between our minds and our brains? Is there life after death? How should we feel about death? In a universe so vast, billions of light years across, can anything we do with our lives really matter? And does it matter if it doesn't matter? These are perennial questions we ask about the human condition, and Nagel probes them, and others like them, thoughtfully, clearly, and with humor. He states his own opinions freely but with refreshing modesty, always leaving it open to readers to entertain other solutions, encouraging them to think for themselves.
Nagel is eminently qualified to introduce the uninitiated to the world of philosophical inquiry. Singled out by the Chicago Literary Review as "one of the sharpest analytic philosophers in America today," he has been praised in the New York Times Book Review for writing "sensitively and elegantly" and in the Times Literary Supplement for his ability, rare among philosophers, to combine "profundity with clarity and simplicity of expression."
Never rarefied, What Does It All Mean? opens our eyes to a side of the world we rarely consider, demonstrating that philosophy is no empty study but an indispensable key to understanding our lives. It challenges us to think hard and clearly, to ask questions, to try out ideas and raise possible objections to them--in short, to become philosophers ourselves.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 153 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 114 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0195052161
  • Verlag: Oxford University Press, USA (15. Oktober 1987)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00524YROY
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.8 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (4 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #111.609 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen VERY short but VERY good. 20. April 1999
Von Ein Kunde
If you haven't read anything about philosophy, this book would be a good place to start. It's very easy reading that can be finished within one or two hours probably. There's no history in this book, no mention of philosophers, but rather Nagel just dives into the big issues of philosophy in each chapter: free will, mind and body, metaphysics, etc. He doesn't provide answers but rather illuminates the problems in each area.
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4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Short and Sweet 18. Dezember 1999
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This author seems to understand that less is often more. His chapters are to the point and interesting. I would almost advise some to try reading it in reverse order, that is, read the last chapter first and so on. They seem to be of interest in reverse order, or at least they did to me. But I think it is the best introduction to philosophy that I have seen, and one that would also be accessible to a bright early teen.
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3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Von Ein Kunde
By introducing young minds to philosophy directly, without big talks about all those dead philosophers, Nagel makes it the best start in philosophy one can desire. I wish this was the first book I read on philosophy!
--Desiderio Murcho
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
People frequently ask me, as a philosopher, what it is that philosophers actually do, what it is that philosophy is all about, and in what kind of investigations we philosophers engage. With this really very short book, Thomas Nagel has found a way to answer these questions by illustrating central philosophical questions without any technical terms, so that every layman may understand the lines of thought. I regularly recommend this book to interested laymen because it is an easy way of entering the wide-ranging fields of the philosophical disciplines. I also recommend it to undergraduates and everyone considering studying philosophy.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.1 von 5 Sternen  54 Rezensionen
81 von 85 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An excellent introduction to philosophy. 10. September 2003
Von Carey Allen - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a very readable introduction to philosophy, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has done no previous reading in philosophy. It is a little short, but should serve to stimulate interest and provide a basis for further reading.
Topics covered are:
1. introduction
2. how do we know anything?
3. other minds
4. the mind-body problem
5. the meaning of words
6. free will
7. right and wrong
8. justice
9. death
10. the meaning of life
After reading this, you might wish to take a look at these books:
a. The Problem of the Soul (author: Flanagan)
b. The View from Nowhere (author: Nagel)
c. Language, Truth and Logic (author: Ayer)
d. Life and Death (author: Hackett)
e. The Meaning of Life (author: Klemke)
f. The Examined Life (author: Nozick)
g. The Symbolic Species (author: Deacon)
These books should serve to stimulate further interest in philosophy, and introduce you to some good writers. They are all written for the non-specialist, and are available as low-cost paperbacks.
51 von 55 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Brief philosophy at its very best. 25. Januar 2003
Von Mark I. Vuletic - Veröffentlicht auf
I am a doctoral candidate in philosophy, and I still enjoyed reading this book. Never before have I seen such a brief, lucid introduction to some of the key problems of philosophy: Is there really an external world? Are there other minds? How does the mind relate to the brain? Is there such a thing as free will? What is the nature of morality and justice? How do words manage to refer to things? How should one feel about death? What is the meaning of life? Nagel offers short, engaging discussions of each.
One will not find in this book all of the major problems one is typically introduced to in a philosophy class - notably absent is the problem of induction and, except for a side note or two, the question of whether or not there is a god. However, one will find more than enough to stimulate much deep thought and many restless nights. Heartily recommended to all.
23 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Not bad; very introductory. 20. Januar 2001
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I think highly of Thomas Nagel as a serious philosopher. If you don't have a clue about philosophy, this is probably about as good an introduction as you can get. Nagel writes about philosophical problems that have haunted human minds throughout the ages. It is intentionally ahistorical for the good reasons that Nagel gives.
If you have had exposure to philosophy in, say, a college level course, this book will be much too simple for you. But if you want something to grease the neurons to start thinking in the abstract way that is philosophical in character, then this book is for you. It's probably a great text for kids in a high school course or adults who are just realizing the benefit of stepping back from life for a moment or two to reflect on what it all means.
14 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Small Taste of Success to Begin the Scholarly Life 25. Januar 2007
Von Textcontext - Veröffentlicht auf
During that first week of the first semester of the freshman year, before the social fraternities might have planned and executed their first parties, before the sports tryouts, play auditions, talent shows, and football games can begin in earnest, for those very few days, the meaning of college and a scholarly endeavor can still be shaped by a teacher. In those two or three class meetings, while others are still defining the field, deriving the Greek origin of the course title, explaining his/her own teaching approach, reading the syllabus, updating roll books, and breaking the ice, in those few days I try to capture students' attention. I will need it for the rest of the semester and I see it as an important part of my job to win it. But I have only a few days to hook them. Those who I can not ensnare are usually lost to the hard stuff, hookah, and hormones. So it's vital that I catch them, and fast. Luckily, I teach Philosophy and History.

Understanding this challenge, the first assignment should both engage and prepare the student for the next readings. Getting through the initial chapters should be an encouraging experience. If an advanced high school student could complete the readings for the second class meeting, spending about three hours to do so, and then successfully use the material in the next class discussion, then that reading is a perfect first selection.

And a broad description of philosophical thinking, in language that provides a freshman with better than even chances to succeed, can still be found in Thomas Nagel's _What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy_. Nine chapters of about ten pages each make this readable little book ideal for the first week of an introductory course in Philosophy. Here, the ideas and major questions are presented in clear language, and in a rational, topical order. Supplemented by a week of rambunctious yet demanding classroom discussions, this small introduction will help open eyes and prepare your students for a more conventional reader, chronologically arranged by Philosopher. This next reader will be attacked, beginning in the second week, by students with some recent experience with the various topics, and in a mood to be critical. Handled correctly, the first week of Philosophy 100 will alert students that reading will count, that doing the reading before class will make you (the student) seem smarter to your classmates, that the text can be understood, and that the subject can be interesting, because it can be applied to life.

I can highly recommend Nagel's small book for that first week, while you still have their attention.
13 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The most accessible introduction to a daunting subject... 8. Mai 2005
Von ewomack - Veröffentlicht auf
Here is perhaps the best book to give to someone who asks "what is this philosophy stuff all about anyway?" In this short 100-page book the basic problems of philosophy receive coherent, meaningful, and very down to earth treatment. Nearly anyone can read this book. It includes no large imposing technical terms or obscure opaque theories. The language and subject matter of the book take aim at the true beginner and hit every time. Anyone with no background in philosophy, but with a curious streak for the subject, should read this book cover to cover.

Another interesting approach this book takes involves the complete absence of the names of eminent philosophers. Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Nietzsche, Russell, Quine; none of their names appear. This focuses the book on the nitty gritty subject matter, not the "big names" that pack most introductory philosophy texts. It also focuses readers on themselves. The questions asked and subjects covered can be directly related to the reader's own experience and life. One doesn't have to have read Descartes' "Meditations on The First Philosophy" to follow the first four chapters. They can be read and related to one's own experience, for some very basic questions get unearthed here: How do I know anything? How do I know that other people have minds? Am I a mind and a body or just a body? How do I figure out what words mean? And so on. This makes for a very welcoming introduction for newcomers. The book empowers those with little background rather than batting them down with "great names" or "great theories". Hopefully the text will whet the appetite for more (don't stop here by any means).

For those with a philosophy background (I have a B.A.) the book can still be refreshing in its simplicity. Reading it feels like going back to the basics or revisiting one's roots. Probably the best reason to read it is to gauge its effectiveness as an introductory text. Then of course recommend it to others.

Thomas Nagel (if you're involved in philosophy you've likely heard of him) also adds in some interesting passages. One of the best is: "Suppose a scientist were crazy enough to try to observe your experience of tasting chocolate by licking your brain while you ate a chocolate bar." Wow. There's an image and a concept you don't hear about every day.

Also, the book actually gives credence to the subjects of death and the meaning of life. Many people think philosophy is about the meaning of life (it is, but in the universities only on an extreme micro scale). Nagel writes eloquently and fairly about both. You may not accept his ideas about these subjects (depending on your background), but they provide fuel for thought and reflection. And one should heed Nagel's statement in the introduction that "...if I say what I think, you have no reason to believe it unless you find it convincing." Nagel's observation that we may in fact be in more trouble if there is an afterlife than if there isn't is particularly intriguing.

Nagel accomplished something great with this ultra-slim volume. He made some of the fundamental problems of philosophy accessible to almost anyone. That's no small achievement for a very small book.
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