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Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophyby Simon Blackburn
Synopses & Reviews
From the school yard to the workplace, thereandrsquo;s no charge more damning than andldquo;Youandrsquo;re being unfair!andrdquo; Born out of democracy and raised in open markets, fairness has become our de facto modern creed. The very symbol of American ethicsandmdash;Lady Justiceandmdash;wears a blindfold as she weighs the law on her impartial scale. In our zealous pursuit of fairness, we have banished our urges to like one person more than another, one thing over another, hiding them away as dirty secrets of our humanity. In Against Fairness, polymath philosopher Stephen T. Asma drags them triumphantly back into the light. Through playful, witty, but always serious arguments and examples, he vindicates our unspoken and undeniable instinct to favor, making the case that we would all be better off if we showed our unfair tendencies a little more kindnessandmdash;indeed, if we favored favoritism.
Conscious of the egalitarian feathers his argument is sure to ruffle, Asma makes his point by synthesizing a startling array of scientific findings, historical philosophies, cultural practices, analytic arguments, and a variety of personal and literary narratives to give a remarkably nuanced and thorough understanding of how fairness and favoritism fit within our moral architecture. Examining everything from the survival-enhancing biochemistry that makes our mothers love us to the motivating properties of our andldquo;affective community,andrdquo; he not only shows how we favor but the reasons we should. Drawing on thinkers from Confucius to Tocqueville to Nietzsche, he reveals how we have confused fairness with more noble traits, like compassion and open-mindedness. He dismantles a number of seemingly egalitarian pursuits, from classwide Valentineandrsquo;s Day cards to civil rights, to reveal the envy that lies at their hearts, going on to prove that we can still be kind to strangers, have no prejudice, and fight for equal opportunity at the same time we reserve the best of what we can offer for those dearest to us.
Fed up with the blue-ribbons-for-all absurdity of andquot;fairnessandquot; today, and wary of the psychological paralysis it creates, Asmaand#160;resets our moral compass with favoritism as its lodestar, providing a strikingly new and remarkably positive way to think through all our actions, big and small.
Watch an animated book trailer here:and#160;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjPhTQ9zi5Q
Here at last is a coherent, unintimidating introduction to the challenging and fascinating landscape of Western philosophy. Written expressly for "anyone who believes there are big questions out there, but does not know how to
approach them," Think provides a sound framework for exploring the most basic themes of philosophy, and for understanding how major philosophers have tackled the questions that have pressed themselves most forcefully on human consciousness.
Simon Blackburn, author of the best-selling Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, begins by making a convincing case for the relevance of philosophy and goes on to give the reader a sense of how the great historical figures such as Plato, Hume, Kant, Descartes, and others have approached its central themes. In a lively and accessible style, Blackburn
approaches the nature of human reflection and how we think, or can think, about knowledge, fate, ethics, identity, God, reason, and truth. Each chapter explains a major issue, and gives the reader a self-contained guide through the problems that the philosophers have studied. Because the text approaches these issues from the gound up, the untrained reader will emerge from its pages able to explore other philosophies with greater pleasure and understanding and be able to think--philosophically--for him or herself.
Philosophy is often dismissed as a purely academic discipline with no relation to the "real" world non-philosophers are compelled to inhabit. Think dispels this myth and offers a springboard for all those who want to learn how the basic techniques of thinking shape our virtually every aspect of our existence.
The author of the bestselling "Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy" offers a coherent, non-intimidating introduction to the challenging and fascinating landscape of Western philosophy.
About the Author
Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Until recently he was Edna J. Koury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and from 1969 to 1999 a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford. His books include Spreading the Word (1984), Essays in Quasi-Realism (1993), The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (1994), Ruling Passions (1998), Truth (co-edited with Keith Simmons, 1999), and the best-selling Think (1999). He edited the journal Mind from 1984 to 1990.
Table of Contents
3. Free Will
4. The Self
7. The World
8. What to Do
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