- Taschenbuch: 113 Seiten
- Verlag: Oxford University Press (30. August 2012)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 9780199657124
- ISBN-13: 978-0199657124
- ASIN: 0199657122
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 17 x 1 x 10,9 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 33.009 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
Metaphysics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 30. August 2012
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It manages to be jargon-free without sacrificing rigour and complexity. * Times Higher Education Supplement *
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Stephen Mumford is Professor of Metaphysics at the Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, where he is also Head of the School of Humanities and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. His most famous book is Dispositions, but he also authored Laws in Nature and Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotions. He has also written extensively for general readers, including articles in Times Higher Education magazine, and he is a frequent public speaker.
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This very short introduction tries to provide the reader with the taste of attempts to answer the questions about the above concepts. The chapters include: “What is a table?”, “What is a cause?” “How does time pass?”, “What is a person?”, and, of course, “What is Metaphysics?” To most of us these questions seem trivial, frivolous even. They seem to require answers to things that are beyond being obvious. Yet, even a simple examination of these questions reveals a lot about our understanding of the world that we take for granted, and to give a proper answer to them is anything but trivial. You can view these considerations as either a sophisticated intellectual exercise, or as something that indeed gets us to understand the World on a very fundamental level. Or, as it is with me, a little bit of both.
Like all of the Philosophy books in this Very Short Introduction series, this one is immensely well written and interesting. They open up a vista to a very fascinating intellectual world. They may not turn you into an armchair philosopher, but they will give you a direction if you choose to pursue such a vocation.
Some metaphysical questions however were substituted by cosmology and more empirically driven investigations with the establishment of natural sciences. Over the ages, metaphysics turned into a synonym for mere speculation, and the subject became a much maligned branch of philosophy (cue Darwin in his notebook: “He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.”)
Yet, there may be some space left for metaphysical questions on the general nature of things or of reality, while natural sciences address more particular questions of natural phenomena and their causal relations. Some metaphysical topics are very general concepts, like time, causality, or personality.
The arguments assembled in this book are problem-oriented (“What is a cause?” “What is a change?” “What is a person?” “How does time pass?”) and take many real-world examples, which makes it easier to follow than a list of all metaphysical topics. In fact, this is very much in the spirit that everyday experience already implies facing philosophical questions. The resulting discussions presented here are intellectual exercises in metaphysics in the form of “case studies”. And we also meet important classical arguments: Plato on objects, Aristotle on change, and Hume on causes.
This is not the definite compendium on metaphysics, metaphysical debates and philosophers of metaphysics, but it’s not intended as such - rather it serves as a good primer if you are interested in the matter. Sometimes quite basic but overall, it makes a solid argument for metaphysical reasoning. In the best case, you not only want to read further, but think further.
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This is a very good and pleasant to read introduction to metaphysics
But, while main subjects are covered, or at least mentioned, I missed a discussion of "chance/random" and its relation with causality. And, when discussing what is possible (ch. 76), the notions of modalities might well have been presented, perhaps with some concepts from modal logic, leading to a partly contingent view of the past and future.
Some ideas from quantum mechanics might also have been taken up, all the more so because of their importance for both the body-mind interaction problem (pp. 69-71) and possible worlds (pp. 79-82).
To provide space for doing so, the attempt to legitimize concern with metaphysics by comparison with science (in the final chapter) could have been skipped. Indeed, I found it somewhat demeaning metaphysics, which does not need it. Enough to say that every person who presumes to be fully mature must be able to engage in "thinking in the abstract" (p. 104); and (2) cannot but be curious about the nature of reality - the subject matter of metaphysics.
I go one step further: If I could I would test the abstract thinking ability of political leaders and dismiss all who failed. I know that most of them are unable to succeed in such a test - as clearly reflected in the way they manage the world.
Accordingly, I strongly recommend this book as a first introduction to metaphysics, to be followed by some more readings -first of all, by persons who presume to lead humanity into the future.
Professor Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
It is concise, informative, profound, exceedingly witty, and an overall joy to read.
The clarity that the author was able to impart on a complicated subject that is often written about in a boring, muddled manner impressed me to no end. The even-handed way he dealt with conflicting viewpoints was yet another positive. Even the color scheme on the cover is the nicest one I have seen so far :)
This book is phenomenal; any person with even a passing interest in philosophy will enjoy it immensely.
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