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Philosophical Conversations

A Concise Historical Introduction

Norman Melchert

Publication Date - March 2008

ISBN: 9780195328462

624 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $97.95

This concise version of Norman Melchert's The Great Conversation presents philosophy as an ongoing conversation through the centuries.


This brief and engaging introductory text treats philosophy as a dramatic and continuous story--a conversation about humankind's deepest and most persistent concerns, in which students are encouraged to participate. Tracing the exchange of ideas between history's key philosophers, Philosophical Conversations: A Concise Historical Introduction demonstrates that while constructing an argument or making a claim, one philosopher almost always has others in mind. The book addresses the fundamental questions of human life: Who are we? What can we know? How should we live? and What sort of reality do we inhabit? Throughout, author Norman Melchert provides a generous selection of excerpts from major philosophical works and makes them more easily understandable with his lucid explanations. Extensive cross-references highlight the organizing themes and show students how philosophers have responded to each other's arguments.

A more concise edition of Norman Melchert's The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy, Fifth Edition, Philosophical Conversations is designed to be especially accessible and visually attractive to first- and second-year college students in introduction to philosophy courses. Enhanced by numerous pedagogical features, it offers:

* Shorter and/or simplified presentations of much of the material
* A second color that enlivens the text and makes it more visually interesting
* An expanded art program featuring more than 100 photographs, illustrations, and cartoons
* Classic art at the opening of each chapter
* Numerous brief quotations from poets, politicians, and thinkers that underscore philosophical points and stimulate thought
* Explanatory footnotes and basic study questions throughout
* "Questions for Further Thought" at the end of each chapter
* Key terms, boldfaced at their first appearance and collected at the end of each chapter and in a detailed glossary at the back of the book
* "Sketches"--which provide glimpses of the ideas of various philosophers not already discussed in detail in the narrative--and "Profiles," which offer more in-depth looks at several thinkers, philosophical schools, and movements including Taoism, Zen, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Iris Murdoch
* An Instructor's Manual and Test Bank on CD that highlights essential points and offers numerous exam questions

Table of Contents

    A Word to Instructors
    A Word to Students
    1. BEFORE PHILOSOPHY: Myth in Hesiod and Homer
    Hesiod: War among the Gods
    Homer: Heroes, Gods, and Excellence
    Thales: The One as Water
    Anaximander: The One as the Boundless
    Xenophanes: The Gods as Fictions
    Sketch: Pythagoras
    Heraclitus: Oneness in the Logos
    Profile: The Tao
    Parmenides: Only the One
    Zeno: The Paradoxes of Common Sense
    Atomism: The One and the Many Reconciled
    The Key: An Ambiguity
    The World
    The Soul
    How to Live
    3. SOCRATES AND THE SOPHISTS: Rhetoric, Relativism, and the Search for Truth
    The Sophists
    Physis and Nomos
    Athens and Sparta at War
    Is Socrates a Sophist?
    What Socrates "Knows"
    Translator's Introduction
    The Dialogue
    Commentary and Questions
    Crito's Visit
    Socrates' Death
    5. PLATO: Knowing the Real and the Good
    Knowledge and Opinion
    Making the Distinction
    We Do Know Certain Truths
    The Objects of Knowledge
    The Reality of the Forms
    The World and the Forms
    How Forms are Related to the World
    Lower and Higher Forms
    The Form of the Good
    The Love of Wisdom
    The Soul
    The Immortality of the Soul
    The Structure of the Soul
    The State
    Problems with the Forms
    6. ARISTOTLE: The Reality of the World
    Aristotle and Plato
    The Objects of Knowledge
    Human Nature
    Relativism and Skepticism
    Logic and Knowledge
    Terms and Statements
    Reasons Why: The Syllogism
    Knowing First Principles
    The World
    The Four "Becauses"
    Is There Purpose in Nature?
    First Philosophy
    Substance and Form
    Pure Actualities
    The Soul
    Levels of Soul
    Soul and Body
    The Good Life
    Virtue or Excellence (Arete)
    The Role of Reason
    The Highest Good
    INTERLUDE 1: The Skeptics
    INTERLUDE 2: The Christians
    The Meaning of Jesus
    7. AUGUSTINE: God and the Soul
    Wisdom, Happiness, and God
    God and the World
    The Great Chain of Being
    Human Nature and Its Corruption
    Human Nature and Its Restoration
    The Two Cities
    Christians and Philosophers
    Reason and Authority
    Intellect and Will
    8. ANSELM AND AQUINAS: Arguing for the Existence of God
    Anselm: On That, Than Which No Greater Can Be Conceived
    Thomas Aquinas: Rethinking Aristotle
    Sketch: Avicenna (Ibn Sinā)
    Philosophy and Theology
    Existence and Essence
    Sketch: Averroës (Ibn Rushd)
    From Creation to God
    Sketch: Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon)
    INTERLUDE 3: Moving from Medieval to Modern
    The World God Made for Us
    The Humanists
    Reforming the Church
    Skeptical Thoughts Revived
    Copernicus to Kepler to Galileo: The Great Triple Play
    9. RENÉ DESCARTES: Doubting our Way to Certainty
    The Method
    Meditations: Commentary and Questions
    Meditation I
    Meditation II
    Meditation III
    Meditations IV through VI
    What Has Descartes Done?
    A New Ideal for Knowledge
    A New Vision of Reality
    The Preeminence of Epistemology
    10. JOHN LOCKE: The Beginnings of Empiricism
    Origin of Ideas
    Sketch: Francis Bacon
    Idea of Substance
    Sketch: George Berkeley
    Profile: Thomas Hobbes
    Idea of The Soul
    Idea of Personal Identity
    Language and Essence
    The Extent of Knowledge
    Of Representative Government
    Of Toleration
    11. DAVID HUME: Unmasking the Pretensions of Reason
    How Newton Did It
    To Be the Newton of Human Nature
    The Theory of Ideas
    The Association of Ideas
    Causation: The Very Idea
    The Disappearing Self
    Sketch: The Buddha
    Rescuing Human Freedom
    Is It Reasonable to Believe in God?
    Understanding Morality
    Reason Is Not a Motivator
    The Origins of Moral Judgment
    Is Hume a Skeptic?
    12. IMMANUEL KANT: Rehabilitating Reason (within Strict Limits)
    Geometry, Mathematics, Space, and Time
    Common Sense, Science, and the A Priori Categories
    Sketch: Baruch Spinoza
    Phenomena and Noumena
    Sketch: Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
    Reasoning and the Ideas of Metaphysics: God, World, and Soul
    The Soul
    The World and the Free Will
    The Ontological Argument
    Reason and Morality
    The Good Will
    The Moral Law
    Sketch: Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    13. HEGEL AND MARX: History and Revolution
    Hegel: Spirit, History, and Freedom
    Sketch: Arthur Schopenhauer
    Reason and Reality: The Theory of Idealism
    History and Freedom
    Marx: Beyond Alienation and Exploitation
    Alienation, Exploitation, and Private Property
    14. KIERKEGAARD AND NIETZSCHE: Christian and Anti-Christian
    Kierkegaard: On Individual Existence
    The Aesthetic
    The Ethical
    The Religious
    The Individual
    Nietzsche: The Value of Existence
    Overcoming Pessimism
    Good-bye Real World
    The Death of God
    Revaluation of Values
    Profile: Iris Murdoch
    The Overman
    Affirming Eternal Recurrence
    15. THE UTILITARIANS: Moral Rules and the Happiness of All (Including Women)
    The Classic Utilitarians
    The Rights of Women
    16. THE PRAGMATISTS: Thought and Action
    Charles Sanders Peirce
    Fixing Belief
    Belief and Doubt
    Truth and Reality
    John Dewey
    Naturalized Epistemology
    Sketch: William James
    Nature and Natural Science
    Value Naturalized
    17. LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN: Linguistic Analysis and Ordinary Language
    Language and Its Logic
    Sketch: Bertrand Russell
    Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
    Thought and Language
    Logical Truth
    Saying and Showing
    Setting the Limit to Thought
    Value and the Self
    Good and Evil, Happiness and Unhappiness
    The Unsayable
    Profile: The Logical Positivists
    Philosophical Investigations
    Philosophical Illusion
    Naming and Meaning
    Family Resemblances
    The Continuity of Wittgenstein's Thought
    Profile: Zen
    Our Groundless Certainty
    18. THE EXISTENTIALISTS: Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir
    Martin Heidegger: The Meaning of Being
    What Is the Question?
    The Clue
    The "Who" of Dasein
    Modes of Disclosure
    Conscience, Guilt, and Resoluteness
    Temporality as the Meaning of Care
    Simone de Beauvoir: The Priority of Freedom
    Profile: Jean-Paul Sartre
    19. POSTMODERNISM AND PHYSICAL REALISM: Derrida, Rorty, Quine, and Dennett
    Deconstruction: Jacques Derrida
    Profile: Richard Rorty
    Physical Realism
    Science, Common Sense, and Metaphysics: Willard van Orman Quine
    The Matter of Minds: Daniel Dennett