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The World of Philosophy

An Introductory Reader

Second Edition

Steven M. Cahn

Publication Date - June 2018

ISBN: 9780190691905

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

In Stock

Introduces students to the world of philosophy by blending Western texts with a rich array of non-Western materials


Accessible, flexible, and affordable, The World of Philosophy: An Introductory Reader, Second Edition, presents philosophy in all its diverse array of thought and practice, offering a distinctive combination of standard analytical materials and Western historical texts alongside writings reflecting Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Arabic, African, South American, Chicano, and Native American sources. Approximately 25% of the contemporary readings are by women, including leading feminist theorists. Many articles have been edited to sharpen their focus and make them understandable to students with little or no background in philosophy. The readings are enhanced by introductions, study questions, and a glossary at the end of the book.

New to this Edition

  • Fifteen historical non-Western readings, including extensive selections from The Upanishads, The Dhammapada, The Bhagavad Gita, The Analects, the Tao Te Ching, the Qur'an, the Jain poem Mahapurana, and the work of the Buddhist philosopher Najarguna, all of which are accompanied by substantial supplementary materials that provide context
  • A total of thirty-six new readings, including selections from classic works by Leibniz and Kant as well as essays by W.K. Clifford, William James, Gustavo Gutierrez, Kwame Gyekye, Kitaro Nishida, James Rachels, Bonnie Steinbock, and Jorge M. Valadez
  • A new section on The Good Life, featuring Xunzi, Epicurus, The Book of Ecclesiastes (complete), The Gospel According to Matthew, Epictetus, Camus, Richard Taylor, Susan Wolf, Christine Vitrano, and Thich Nhat Hanh


  • A diverse selection of readings places standard Western historical and analytic materials alongside writings from Chinese, Indian, Native American, African American, continental, and other sources
  • Sixteen articles authored by women, including work by recent feminist theorists, comprise approximately one-quarter of the contemporary selections in the text
  • Careful edits to each selection focus readers on the key arguments within, ensuring that topics are presented with maximum clarity and accessibility
  • Reading introductions and study questions following each selection reinforce material and encourage philosophical thinking
  • Key terms are defined in an end-of-text glossary
  • A free, open-access Companion Website contains a wealth of student resources including self-quizzes, essay questions, learning objectives, flashcards of key terms, and suggested web links
  • Instructor materials on the Ancillary Resource Center include a Computerized Test Bank and an Instructor's Manual with teaching resources and summaries of all readings in the text

About the Author(s)

Steven M. Cahn is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at The City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author or editor of sixty books. Most recently, he wrote Teaching Philosophy: A Guide (2018) and Religion Within Reason (2017). Dr. Cahn is the editor of Exploring Philosophy, Sixth Edition (OUP, 2017), and Exploring Ethics, Fourth Edition (OUP, 2017).


"The World of Philosophy is comprehensive in its breadth with the right dose of depth. It covers all the possible philosophical topics for introductory classes with unparalleled attention to diversity of voices in classic and contemporary philosophical literature."--Fidel Arnecillo, California State University, San Bernadino

"This textbook is easily the best, the most comprehensive, and the most affordable introduction to philosophy textbook on the market. It is an excellent mixture of classic, contemporary, and diverse sources. The teaching resources are invaluable."--Albert Spencer, Portland State University

"The book's greatest strengths are its choice of selections, the incorporation of Eastern philosophy, and its recognition of superb women philosophers who appear to get little notice in other texts."--Dominic Prianti III, Gannon University

"The quality of the book is excellent. It is admirably pluralistic in its inclusion of works of Asian philosophy." --Carol Gould, Florida Atlantic University

Table of Contents

    *=New to this Edition
    Monroe C. Beardsley and Elizabeth Lane Beardsley: What Is Philosophy?
    Bertrand Russell: The Value of Philosophy
    Plato: Defence of Socrates
    * Plato: Crito
    * Plato: Phaedo
    * Steven M. Cahn, Patricia Kitcher, and George Sher: What Is Reason?
    Carl G. Hempel: Scientific Inquiry
    * Gillian Barker and Philip Kitcher: Antiscientism
    René Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy
    * John Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
    * Gottfried Leibniz: New Essays on Human Understanding
    George Berkeley: A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
    David Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
    Immanuel Kant: Critique of Pure Reason
    A. J. Ayer: What Is Knowledge?
    Edmund L. Gettier: Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?
    Uma Narayan: The Project of Feminist Epistemology
    * Nagarjuna: Examination of the Senses
    A. Mind and Body
    René Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy
    Gilbert Ryle: The Ghost in the Machine
    Paul M. Churchland: The Mind-Body Problem
    Thomas Nagel: What Is It Like to Be a Bat?
    * Frank Jackson: The Qualia Problem
    * Alan Turing: Computing Machinery and Intelligence
    John Searle: Do Computers Think?
    Barbara Montero: The Body Problem
    B. The Self
    Joel Kupperman: Hinduism and the Self
    * The Upanishads
    Thomas P. Kasulis: The Buddhist Concept of Self
    * David Hume: A Treatise of Human Nature
    C. Identity
    Brian Smart: A Case of Identity
    John Perry: The Problem of Personal Identity
    * John Locke: Of Identity and Diversity
    * Thomas Reid: Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man
    * Terence Penelhum: Identity and Immortality
    D. Free Will
    Thomas Nagel: Free Will
    W. T. Stace: Free Will and Determinism
    Steven M. Cahn: Freedom or Determinism?
    * Kitaro Nishida: The Freedom of the Will
    A. Religious Beliefs
    Anselm and Gaunilo: The Ontological Argument
    Thomas Aquinas: The Five Ways
    William L. Rowe: The Kalam Cosmological Argument
    * William Paley: Natural Theology
    Ernest Nagel: Does God Exist?
    B. The Problem of Evil
    Richard Swinburne: Why God Allows Evil
    * Eleonore Stump: Knowledge, Freedom, and the Problem of Evil
    * Kwame Gyekye: The Problem of Evil: An Akan Perspective
    Raynor Johnson: Karma and Rebirth
    Whitley R. P. Kaufman: Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil
    C. Belief Without Proof
    Blaise Pascal: The Wager
    Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski: Pascal's Wager: An Assessment
    * W.K. Clifford: The Ethics of Belief
    * William James: The Will to Believe
    D. Religious Diversity
    Philip L. Quinn and Kevin Meeker: The Challenge of Religious Diversity
    Jeffery D. Long: The Jain Path
    * Mahapurana
    Ray Billington: The Tao
    * Tao Te Ching
    Twelve Zen Stories
    * Ninian Smart: The Muslim Experience
    * The Qur'an
    * Gustavo Gutierrez: Liberation Theology
    Vine Deloria, Jr.: God Is Red: A Native View of Religion
    John H. Hick: Religious Pluralism and Salvation
    Dalai Lama: Interreligious Harmony
    Steven M. Cahn: God and Morality
    Mary Midgley: Moral Isolationism
    James Rachels: Egoism and Moral Skepticism
    Immanuel Kant: The Categorical Imperative
    John Stuart Mill: Utilitarianism
    Aristotle: The Nature of Virtue
    * Kwame Gyekye: Character in Akan Ethics
    Virginia Held: The Ethics of Care
    Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil
    Jean-Paul Sartre: Existentialism Is a Humanism
    Christopher W. Gowans: The Buddha's Message
    * The Dhammapada
    Henry Rosemont, Jr: Confucian Morality
    * The Analects
    A. Abortion
    Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion
    * Mary Anne Warren: On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion
    Don Marquis: Why Abortion Is Immoral
    * B. Euthanasia
    * James Rachels: Active and Passive Euthanasia
    * Bonnie Steinbock: The Intentional Termination of Life
    C. World Hunger
    Peter Singer: Famine, Affluence, and Morality
    * Travis Timmerman: A Reply to Singer
    Plato: The Republic
    Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan
    Karl Marx: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
    John Stuart Mill: On Liberty
    John Dewey: Democracy
    Martin Luther King, Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail
    * Jorge M. Valadez: Developing Democratic Citizenship in Multicultural Societies
    John Rawls: A Theory of Justice
    Robert Nozick: Distributive Justice
    Virginia Held: Non-contractual Society: A Feminist View
    * Iris Marion Young: Five Faces of Oppression
    * Kwame Anthony Appiah: Globalizing Human Rights
    * The Bhagavad Gita
    Xunzi: A Discussion of Heaven
    Epicurus: Writings
    * Ecclesiastes
    * The Gospel According to Matthew
    * Epictetus: The Handbook
    Albert Camus: The Myth of Sisyphus
    Richard Taylor: The Meaning of Life
    Susan Wolf: Meaning in Life
    Christine Vitrano: Meaningful Lives
    * Thich Nhat Hanh: Realizing Well-Being