Classic Readings in Philosophy
The overriding rationale behind this book is the desire to enrich the lives of college students by introducing them to philosophical thinking in an accessible and engaging manner. The classic selections were chosen to provide personal moments of reflection as students embark upon a journey into philosophy.
The opening section, “The Role of Philosophy,” provides a general introduction to philosophy. It uses real-life examples to illustrate how philosophical thinking touches all aspects of our lives, and how it is connected to other academic disciplines. Thereafter, each philosophical area, such as the nature of reality, knowledge, God, free will, and morality, has its own introduction offering further framework and context. These features allow students to connect with the content in an intuitive, natural manner. The surrounding narrative is designed to be conversational and comprehensible. The intent is to furnish a clear path through the material that enables readers to get started in understanding each philosopher’s ideas and arguments. The table of contents presents each instructor with the opportunity to choose a set of readings that matches the individual needs of each class.
The goal of any introduction to philosophy anthology should be a selection of readings that stimulate us. Since there are thousands of possible readings that one can choose from, every anthology must make choices. The editing process for this anthology was driven by the need to include material that is challenging, yet accessible. The emphasis on classical readings reveals the rich and varied history of philosophy, and it provides a foundation for understanding modern philosophers’ ideas and writings. The readings are long enough to develop important philosophical issues, yet short enough to concentrate on a few topics. The readings are meant to stimulate immediate reflection and offer a platform for discussion.
Curated, classic readings selected to inspire self reflection.
Challenging yet accessible content.
About the Author
Stan Baronett is the author of Zen and Western Philosophy (2023), Alinea Learning; The Hemlock Dialogues (2023), Alinea Learning; Gambling with Philosophy (2023), Alinea Learning; Logic, 5th Edition (2021), Oxford University Press; and Why Did the Logician Cross the Road? (2021), Bloomsbury.
Part One: The Role of Philosophy
Part Two: The Value of Philosophy Bertrand Russell THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY
Part Three: Reality Plato THE DIVIDED LINE, AND THE CAVE Aristotle FIRST PRINCIPLES Margaret Cavendish OBSERVATIONS John Locke PRIMARY AND SECONDARY QUALITIES Gottfried Leibniz THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF REALITY George Berkeley TO BE IS TO BE PERCEIVED David Hume COMMIT IT TO THE FLAMES` Mary Shepherd IDEAS Immanuel Kant REGARDING AN EXTERNAL WORLD
Part Four: Knowledge Plato KNOWLEDGE IS RECOLLECTION Aristotle A WRITING TABLET Augustine THE POSSIBILITY OF DECEPTION René Descartes DOUBT AND CERTAINTY John Locke KNOWLEDGE DERIVES FROM EXPERIENCE Gottfried Leibniz DEEP INSIDE Mary Astell DEGREES OF CLEARNESS David Hume MATTERS OF FACT AND RELATIONS OF IDEAS Immanuel Kant THE POSSIBILITY OF EXPERIENCE Charles S. Peirce THE FIXATION OF BELIEF
Part Five: God A. Can God’s Existence Be Proved Based on Experience? Plato THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING Thomas Aquinas THE FIVE WAYS Gottfried Leibniz SUFFICIENT REASON George Berkeley THE AUTHOR OF NATURE William Paley THE WATCHMAKER ARGUMENT David Hume AGAINST THE WATCHMAKER ARGUMENT B. Can God’s Existence Be Proved Independent of Experience? Anselm of Canterbury THE EXISTENCE OF GOD René Descartes THE IDEA OF GOD Anne Conway ON GOD David Hume WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING? C. Why Do Suffering and Evil Exist? Gottfried Leibniz THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL AND SUFFERING George Hayward Joyce THE PROBLEM OF EVIL David Hume SUFFERING AND EVIL D. Belief Blaise Pascal THE WAGER Damaris Cudworth Masham A NATURAL INSCRIPTION Friedrich Nietzsche THE END OF AN IDEA William K. Clifford THE ETHICS OF BELIEF William James THE WILL TO BELIEVE
Part Six: Mind and Body René Descartes MIND AND BODY Margaret Cavendish A DOUBLE PERCEPTION Anne Conway ONE AND THE SAME THING William James DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? John Locke IDENTITY AND DIVERSITY David Hume I AM A BUNDLE OF PERCEPTIONS
Part Seven: Free Will John Locke FREE AGENTS Baruch Spinoza EVERYTHING HAPPENS OUT OF NECESSITY David Hume OF LIBERTY AND NECESSITY Immanuel Kant FREEDOM OF THE WILL Paul-Henri d’Holbach A SERIES OF NECESSARY MOMENTS
Part Eight: Morality Plato WHY SHOULD WE BE GOOD? Aristotle VIRTUES David Hume MORALITY IS DETERMINED BY SENTIMENT Immanuel Kant DUTY John Stuart Mill THE PRINCIPLE OF UTILITY Friedrich Nietzsche A FREE SPIRIT Thomas H. Huxley EVOLUTION AND ETHICS
Part Nine: Political and Social Philosophy Plato APOLOGY Plato SHOULD I OBEY THE LAWS? Aristotle A POLITICAL ANIMAL Thomas Hobbes SOLITARY, POOR, NASTY, BRUTISH, AND SHORT John Locke FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE Catharine Macaulay OBSERVATIONS ON REVOLUTION John Stuart Mill LIBERTY Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE! Mary Wollstonecraft A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Part Ten: Art and Aesthetics Aristotle TRAGEDY Henri Bergson AN ANIMAL WHICH LAUGHS, AND IS LAUGHED AT George Santayana A PLEDGE OF THE POSSIBLE Arthur Schopenhauer ART TAKES AWAY THE MIST
Part Eleven: Does Life Have Meaning? Epicurus IN WAKING OR IN DREAM Arthur Schopenhauer THE VANITY OF EXISTENCE William James IS LIFE WORTH LIVING? Bertrand Russell FATE IS SUBDUED BY THE MIND