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The Excellent Mind

Intellectual Virtues for Everyday Life

Nathan L. King

21 April 2021

ISBN: 9780190096267

304 pages

In Stock

Price: £18.99



Nathan L. King's The Excellent Mind considers the importance of the intellectual virtues: the character traits of excellent thinkers. He explains what it means to have an excellent mind: one that is curious, careful, self-reliant, humble, honest, persevering, courageous, open, firm, and wise. He shows how the intellectual virtues are critical to living everyday life. They are deeply intertwined with moral virtues, and our intellectual character guides our actions and beliefs. The book is thoroughly accessible and designed for students, not just in philosophy and critical thinking classes, but across the curriculum.

  • Provides a unique, accessible introduction to the intellectual virtues for a broad audience, beyond literature in philosophy and educational theory
  • Relates the intellectual virtues to real-world issues, including education, responsible citizenship, and personal relationships
  • Addresses importance of intellectual character in connection with the intellectual virtues, moral virtues, logic, and critical thinking

About the Author(s)

Nathan L. King, Professor of Philosophy, Whitworth University

Nathan L. King is Professor of Philosophy at Whitworth University. His research interests include intellectual character, the epistemology of disagreement, and the philosophy of education. His work has appeared in such journals as Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Quarterly, and Synthese.

Table of Contents

    Part I: What are Intellectual Virtues and Why Do They Matter?
    1. Why Good Thinking Matters
    2. The Intellectual Virtues: A Closer Look
    Part II: Intellectual Virtues
    3. Curiosity: A Healthy Appetite for Knowledge
    4. Carefulness: Mind Your Evidence
    5. Autonomy: Think for Yourself
    6. Humility & Self-Confidence: Own Your Weaknesses-and Your Strengths
    7. Honesty: Don't Distort the Truth
    8. Perseverance: Overcome Obstacles
    9. Courage: Persist Despite Threats
    10. Open-Mindedness & Firmness: Transcend and Maintain Your Perspective
    11. Fair-Mindedness & Charity: Don't Do Unto Others / Do Unto Others
    Part III: Putting on Virtue
    12. How We Grow in Intellectual Virtue


"In this timely book, Nathan King unpacks the world of intellectual virtues in a refreshingly accessible manner. Using clear examples, stories, and vignettes from his own life, King keeps the reader engaged through his clear and straightforward prose. One comes away with a better understanding of why developing intellectual character is not only an important but also an achievable aim of education." - Ron Ritchhart, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"What are the qualities of a good thinker? What does it mean to have an excellent mind? Nathan King raises and elegantly answers these questions in this dazzling book. Employing fascinating examples from modern culture and the everyday world, King explores the powers of the human mind in this page-turner. It is at once an intellectual triumph, a how-to book, and an entertaining read. To everyone from high school students to old physicists like myself, I say: read this delightful and original book!" - Leonard Mlodinow, bestselling author of Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior

"The Excellent Mind is a marvelous introduction to the topic of intellectual virtues. It lucidly explores twelve different intellectual virtues, including curiosity, open-mindedness, honesty, humility, and courage. King acquaints the reader with each virtue through real-life examples, ranging from Copernicus to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Eminently readable and applicable, it is an excellent fit for introductory courses in Philosophy and relevant to several disciplines in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences." - Heather Battaly, University of Connecticut

"This book is an outstanding introduction to intellectual virtues and their importance to learning and living well. It combines lively and accessible prose with a philosophically sophisticated and illuminating treatment of intellectual virtues. It is an ideal resource for students, teachers, and others interested in understanding the personal aspects of good thinking." - Jason Baehr, Loyola Marymount University

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