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Philosophy

What Kind of Creatures Are We?

What Kind of Creatures Are We?

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Noam Chomsky is widely known and deeply admired for being the founder of modern linguistics, one of the founders of the field of cognitive science, and perhaps the most avidly read political theorist and commentator of our time. In these lectures, he presents a lifetime of philosophical reflection on all three of these areas of research, to which he has contributed for over half a century.

In clear, precise, and nontechnical language, Chomsky elaborates on fifty years of scientific development in the study of language, sketching how his own work has implications for the origins of language, the close relations that language bears to thought, and its eventual biological basis. He expounds and criticizes many alternative theories, such as those that emphasize the social, the communicative, and the referential aspects of language. Chomsky reviews how new discoveries about language overcome what seemed to be highly problematic assumptions in the past. He also investigates the apparent scope and limits of human cognitive capacities and what the human mind can seriously investigate, in the light of history of science and philosophical reflection and current understanding. Moving from language and mind to society and politics, he concludes with a searching exploration and philosophical defense of a position he describes as "libertarian socialism," tracing its links to anarchism and the ideas of John Dewey and even to the ideas of Marx and Mill, demonstrating its conceptual growth out of our historical past and urgent relation to matters of the present.

What Kind of Creatures Are We?

What Kind of Creatures Are We?

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Noam Chomsky is widely known and deeply admired for being the founder of modern linguistics, one of the founders of the field of cognitive science, and perhaps the most avidly read political theorist and commentator of our time. In these lectures, he presents a lifetime of philosophical reflection on all three of these areas of research, to which he has contributed for over half a century.

In clear, precise, and nontechnical language, Chomsky elaborates on fifty years of scientific development in the study of language, sketching how his own work has implications for the origins of language, the close relations that language bears to thought, and its eventual biological basis. He expounds and criticizes many alternative theories, such as those that emphasize the social, the communicative, and the referential aspects of language. Chomsky reviews how new discoveries about language overcome what seemed to be highly problematic assumptions in the past. He also investigates the apparent scope and limits of human cognitive capacities and what the human mind can seriously investigate, in the light of history of science and philosophical reflection and current understanding. Moving from language and mind to society and politics, he concludes with a searching exploration and philosophical defense of a position he describes as "libertarian socialism," tracing its links to anarchism and the ideas of John Dewey and even to the ideas of Marx and Mill, demonstrating its conceptual growth out of our historical past and urgent relation to matters of the present.

What Philosophy Can Do

What Philosophy Can Do

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In What Philosophy Can Do, Gary Gutting takes a philosopher's scalpel to modern life's biggest questions and the most powerful forces in our society--politics, science, religion, education, and capitalism. Along the way, he introduces readers to powerful philosophical tools, from inductive and deductive logic to the Principle of Charity, which they can use to make better sense of current debates. Interweaving his discussion of contemporary issues with philosophical concepts from Aristotle to Michel Foucault and John Rawls, Gutting shows how philosophy can enrich public discussions about our most urgent issues.

What Philosophy Can Do

What Philosophy Can Do

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How can we have meaningful debates with political opponents?
How can we distinguish reliable science from over-hyped media reports?
How can we talk sensibly about God?

In What Philosophy Can Do, Gary Gutting takes a philosopher's scalpel to modern life's biggest questions and the most powerful forces in our society--politics, science, religion, education, and capitalism--to show how we can improve our discussions of contentious contemporary issues.

Gutting introduces readers to powerful analytic tools in the philosopher's arsenal that they can use to make new sense of current debates. One such tool is a crucial distinction between inductive and deductive reasoning that explains why both sides on a disputed issue often are sure they have compelling cases for their views. Another is the Principle of Charity, which requires opposing parties to present each other's arguments in their strongest forms--a tool that would make critiques both more respectful and more effective. Gutting also shows how concepts introduced by philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Michel Foucault and John Rawls can clarify public discussions about morality, the economy, and medicine.

From informed assessments of scientific claims to careful analyses of arguments for and against religious belief, Gutting brings a calm, clear-headed approach to some of the most divisive issues on the table today. He scrutinizes our relationship to work and freedom in capitalism; our modern understanding of happiness and the good life; the value of liberal arts education and the humanities; the role of science and politics in shaping public policy today; and the value of art and popular culture. Perhaps most meaningfully, Gutting shows how we can talk about our own deepest beliefs clearly and directly, while listening to what others have to say to us. What Philosophy Can Do makes a powerful case for philosophy's importance to public discussions, and shows us that this ancient tradition of inquiry may yet have much to say about our future.

What We Owe to Each Other

What We Owe to Each Other

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How do we judge whether an action is morally right or wrong? If an action is wrong, what reason does that give us not to do it? Why should we give such reasons priority over our other concerns and values? In this book, T. M. Scanlon offers new answers to these questions, as they apply to the central part of morality that concerns what we owe to each other. According to his contractualist view, thinking about right and wrong is thinking about what we do in terms that could be justified to others and that they could not reasonably reject. He shows how the special authority of conclusions about right and wrong arises from the value of being related to others in this way, and he shows how familiar moral ideas such as fairness and responsibility can be understood through their role in this process of mutual justification and criticism.

Scanlon bases his contractualism on a broader account of reasons, value, and individual well-being that challenges standard views about these crucial notions. He argues that desires do not provide us with reasons, that states of affairs are not the primary bearers of value, and that well-being is not as important for rational decision-making as it is commonly held to be. Scanlon is a pluralist about both moral and non-moral values. He argues that, taking this plurality of values into account, contractualism allows for most of the variability in moral requirements that relativists have claimed, while still accounting for the full force of our judgments of right and wrong.

What Would Socrates Say?: Philosophers Tackle Questions About Love, Nothingness,

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"What Would Socrates Say?" helps the armchair philosopher solve age-old quandaries and contemporary ethical dilemmas.
- If no one ever loves me during my lifetime--if I don't have a relationship--will I have not lived a good life?
- Do the advances in the field of biotechnology threaten our moral values?
- Are there any reasons to have a child that aren't selfish?
- Is there no such thing as bad art?
- What's the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter?
- Am I morally bound to tell my sex partner if I fantasize about someone else while making love to him or her?
These are among the profound, paradoxical, playful, and classic questions asked and answered in this book drawn from AskPhilosophers.org, the popular website created by some of today's most highly esteemed philosophers. Using their knowledge of the arguments laid down by the likes of Aristotle, Camus, Locke, and Socrates, and their own insightful interpretations, they break down tough issues in a digestible, personal, and even humorous style. Included are questions on today's hot-button topics (war, euthanasia); timeless conundrums about religion and morality (how do we know God exists?); personal perplexities about adultery, child-rearing, and sex; and a few lighthearted topics like whether it's right to let your kids believe in Santa.
Featuring real questions from real people around the world--doctors, lawyers, the uneducated, the elderly, and even young children (for example, "If everything has an opposite, like night and day, then what's the opposite of a banana?")--this book is for anyone seeking enlightenment on a complicated or an elusive concept relevant to the lives we lead today. Whether you agree with the answers given or not, this book reminds us of Socrates' famous words--"a life unexamined is not worth living"--and, in doing so, encourages us to think a little more deeply, a little more critically, and, well, a little more philosophically about how we make our way in the world
When Bad Thinking Happens to Good People

When Bad Thinking Happens to Good People

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Why the tools of philosophy offer a powerful antidote to today's epidemic of irrationality

There is an epidemic of bad thinking in the world today. An alarming number of people are embracing crazy, even dangerous ideas. They believe that vaccinations cause autism. They reject the scientific consensus on climate change as a "hoax." And they blame the spread of COVID-19 on the 5G network or a Chinese cabal. Worse, bad thinking drives bad acting--it even inspired a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol. In this book, Steven Nadler and Lawrence Shapiro argue that the best antidote for bad thinking is the wisdom, insights, and practical skills of philosophy. When Bad Thinking Happens to Good People provides an engaging tour through the basic principles of logic, argument, evidence, and probability that can make all of us more reasonable and responsible citizens.

When Bad Thinking Happens to Good People shows how we can more readily spot and avoid flawed arguments and unreliable information; determine whether evidence supports or contradicts an idea; distinguish between merely believing something and knowing it; and much more. In doing so, the book reveals how epistemology, which addresses the nature of belief and knowledge, and ethics, the study of moral principles that should govern our behavior, can reduce bad thinking. Moreover, the book shows why philosophy's millennia-old advice about how to lead a good, rational, and examined life is essential for escaping our current predicament.

In a world in which irrationality has exploded to deadly effect, When Bad Thinking Happens to Good People is a timely and essential guide for a return to reason.

When I Am Playing with My Cat, How Do I Know That She Is Not Playing with Me?

When I Am Playing with My Cat, How Do I Know That She Is Not Playing with Me?

$26.00
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"When I dance, I dance; when I sleep, I sleep. And when I
am walking alone in a beautiful orchard, if my thoughts
are sometimes preoccupied elsewhere, the rest of the time I
bring them back to the walk, to the orchard, to the sweetness
of this solitude, and to me."
--"Montaigne"
In the year 1570, ""at the age of thirty-seven, Michel de Montaigne gave up his job as a magistrate and retired to his chateau to brood on his own private grief--the deaths of his best friend, his father, his brother, and his firstborn child. On the ceiling of his library he inscribed a phrase from the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius: "There is no new pleasure to be gained by living longer."
But finding his mind agitated rather than settled by this idleness, Montaigne began to write, giving birth to the "Essays"--short prose explorations of an amazingly wide range of subjects. And gradually, over the course of his writing, Montaigne rejected his stoical pessimism and turned from a philosophy of death to a philosophy of life. He erased Lucretius's melancholy fatalism and began to embrace the exuberant vitality of living, finding an antidote to death in the most unlikely places--the touch of a hand, the smell of his doublet, the playfulness of his cat, and the flavor of his wine.
Saul Frampton offers a celebration of perhaps the most enjoyable and yet profound of all Renaissance writers, whose essays went on to have a huge impact on figures as diverse as Shakespeare, Emerson, and Orson Welles, and whose thoughts, even today, offer a guide and unprecedented insight into the simple matter of being alive.

Who Am I

Who Am I

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#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

TRANSLATED INTO 23 LANGUAGES, WITH MORE THAN ONE MILLION COPIES SOLD

What is truth? What is love? Does life have meaning? Bestselling author Richard David Precht, "the Mick Jagger of the nonfiction book" (Tagesanzeiger Zürich), has traveled the globe searching for answers--and his odyssey has become one of the most talked-about books around the world. Combining classic philosophy and cutting-edge neuroscience, Precht guides readers through the thickest jungles of academic discourse with the greatest of ease, taking on subjects as challenging and divisive as abortion, cloning, the eating of animals, euthanasia, the ethics of reproductive science, and the very future of humanity.

Who knows? By the end of this wildly entertaining journey, you just might be able to answer, Who Am I?

Why Buddhism Is True

Why Buddhism Is True

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New York Times Bestseller
From one of America's greatest minds, a journey through psychology, philosophy, and lots of meditation to show how Buddhism holds the key to moral clarity and enduring happiness.

Robert Wright famously explained in The Moral Animal how evolution shaped the human brain. The mind is designed to often delude us, he argued, about ourselves and about the world. And it is designed to make happiness hard to sustain.

But if we know our minds are rigged for anxiety, depression, anger, and greed, what do we do? Wright locates the answer in Buddhism, which figured out thousands of years ago what scientists are only discovering now. Buddhism holds that human suffering is a result of not seeing the world clearly--and proposes that seeing the world more clearly, through meditation, will make us better, happier people.

In Why Buddhism is True, Wright leads readers on a journey through psychology, philosophy, and a great many silent retreats to show how and why meditation can serve as the foundation for a spiritual life in a secular age. At once excitingly ambitious and wittily accessible, this is the first book to combine evolutionary psychology with cutting-edge neuroscience to defend the radical claims at the heart of Buddhist philosophy. With bracing honesty and fierce wisdom, it will persuade you not just that Buddhism is true--which is to say, a way out of our delusion--but that it can ultimately save us from ourselves, as individuals and as a species.

Why Does the World Exist

Why Does the World Exist

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Tackling the darkest question in all of philosophy with raffish erudition (Dwight Garner, New York Times), author Jim Holt explores the greatest metaphysical mystery of all: why is there something rather than nothing? This runaway bestseller, which has captured the imagination of critics and the public alike, traces our latest efforts to grasp the origins of the universe. Holt adopts the role of cosmological detective, traveling the globe to interview a host of celebrated scientists, philosophers, and writers, testing the contentions of one against the theories of the other (Jeremy Bernstein, Wall Street Journal). As he interrogates his list of ontological culprits, the brilliant yet slyly humorous Holt contends that we might have been too narrow in limiting our suspects to God versus the Big Bang. This deft and consuming (David Ulin, Los Angeles Times) narrative humanizes the profound questions of meaning and existence it confronts."
Why Grow Up

Why Grow Up

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Our culture is obsessed with youth-and why not? What's the appeal of growing old, of gaining responsibilities and giving up on dreams, of steadily trading possibility for experience?
The philosopher Susan Neiman argues that the absence of appealing models of maturity is not an accident: by describing life as a downhill process, we prepare young people to expect-and demand-very little from it. In Why Grow Up? she challenges our culture of permanent adolescence, turning to thinkers including Kant, Rousseau, and Arendt to find a model of maturity that is not a matter of resignation. In growing up, we move from the boundless trust of childhood to the peculiar mixture of disappointment and exhilaration that comes with adolescence. Maturity, however, means finding the courage to live in a world of painful uncertainty without giving in to dogma or despair. A grown-up, Neiman writes, helps to move the world closer to what it should be while never losing sight of what it is.
Why Grow Up? is a witty and concise argument for the value of maturity as a subversive ideal: a goal rarely achieved entirety, and all the more worth striving for.

Why I Am So Wise

Why I Am So Wise

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Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves--and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives--and destroyed them.

Now, Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are. Penguin's Great Ideas series features twelve groundbreaking works by some of history's most prodigious thinkers, and each volume is beautifully packaged with a unique type-drive design that highlights the bookmaker's art. Offering great literature in great packages at great prices, this series is ideal for those readers who want to explore and savor the Great Ideas that have shaped the world.

One of the most iconoclastic thinkers of all time, Friedrich Nietzsche continues to challenge the boundaries of conventional religion and morality with his subversive theories of the 'superman', the individual will, the death of God and the triumph of an all-powerful human life force.

Why Our Decisions Don't Matter

Why Our Decisions Don't Matter

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Provocative and eye-opening, Why Our Decisions Don't Matter is one of three slim selections of philosophical texts and excerpts--along with Why We Need Love and Why We Fight--introduced and contextualized by acclaimed author Simon Van Booy (Love Begins in Winter, The Secret Lives of People in Love).
Why the World Does Not Exist

Why the World Does Not Exist

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Where do we come from? Are we merely a cluster of elementary particles in a gigantic world receptacle? And what does it all mean?

In this highly original new book, the philosopher Markus Gabriel challenges our notion of what exists and what it means to exist. He questions the idea that there is a world that encompasses everything like a container life, the universe, and everything else. This all-inclusive being does not exist and cannot exist. For the world itself is not found in the world. And even when we think about the world, the world about which we think is obviously not identical with the world in which we think. For, as we are thinking about the world, this is only a very small event in the world. Besides this, there are still innumerable other objects and events: rain showers, toothaches and the World Cup. Drawing on the recent history of philosophy, Gabriel asserts that the world cannot exist at all, because it is not found in the world. Yet with the exception of the world, everything else exists; even unicorns on the far side of the moon wearing police uniforms.

Revelling in witty thought experiments, word play, and the courage of provocation, Markus Gabriel demonstrates the necessity of a questioning mind and the role that humour can play in coming to terms with the abyss of human existence.

Why Vegan

Why Vegan

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Even before the publication of his seminal Animal Liberation in 1975, Peter Singer, one of the greatest moral philosophers of our time, unflinchingly challenged the ethics of eating animals. Now, in Why Vegan?, Singer brings together the most consequential essays of his career to make this devastating case against our failure to confront what we are doing to animals, to public health, and to our planet.

From his 1973 manifesto for Animal Liberation to his personal account of becoming a vegetarian in "The Oxford Vegetarians" and to investigating the impact of meat on global warming, Singer traces the historical arc of the animal rights, vegetarian, and vegan movements from their embryonic days to today, when climate change and global pandemics threaten the very existence of humans and animals alike. In his introduction and in "The Two Dark Sides of COVID-19," cowritten with Paola Cavalieri, Singer excoriates the appalling health hazards of Chinese wet markets--where thousands of animals endure almost endless brutality and suffering--but also reminds westerners that they cannot blame China alone without also acknowledging the perils of our own factory farms, where unimaginably overcrowded sheds create the ideal environment for viruses to mutate and multiply.

Spanning more than five decades of writing on the systemic mistreatment of animals, Why Vegan? features a topical new introduction, along with nine other essays, including:

- "An Ethical Way of Treating Chickens?," which opens our eyes to the lives of the birds who end up on so many plates--and to the lives of their parents;
- "If Fish Could Scream," an essay exposing the utter indifference of commercial fishing practices to the experiences of the sentient beings they scoop from the oceans in such unimaginably vast numbers;
- "The Case for Going Vegan," in which Singer assembles his most powerful case for boycotting the animal production industry;
- And most recently, in the introduction to this book and in "The Two Dark Sides of COVID-19," Singer points to a new reason for avoiding meat: the role eating animals has played, and will play, in pandemics past, present, and future.

Written in Singer's pellucid prose, Why Vegan? asserts that human tyranny over animals is a wrong comparable to racism and sexism. The book ultimately becomes an urgent call to reframe our lives in order to redeem ourselves and alter the calamitous trajectory of our imperiled planet.

Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment

Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment

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A compelling exploration of how our pursuit of happiness makes us unhappy

We live in an age of unprecedented prosperity, yet everywhere we see signs that our pursuit of happiness has proven fruitless. Dissatisfied, we seek change for the sake of change-even if it means undermining the foundations of our common life. In Why We Are Restless, Benjamin and Jenna Storey offer a profound and beautiful reflection on the roots of this malaise and examine how we might begin to cure ourselves.

Drawing on the insights of Montaigne, Pascal, Rousseau, and Tocqueville, Why We Are Restless explores the modern vision of happiness that leads us on, and the disquiet that follows it like a lengthening shadow. In the sixteenth century, Montaigne articulated an original vision of human life that inspired people to see themselves as individuals dedicated to seeking contentment in the here and now, but Pascal argued that we cannot find happiness through pleasant self-seeking, only anguished God-seeking. Rousseau later tried and failed to rescue Montaigne's worldliness from Pascal's attack. Steeped in these debates, Tocqueville visited the United States in 1831 and, observing a people "restless in the midst of their well-being," discovered what happens when an entire nation seeks worldly contentment-and finds mostly discontent.

Arguing that the philosophy we have inherited, despite pretending to let us live as we please, produces remarkably homogenous and unhappy lives, Why We Are Restless makes the case that finding true contentment requires rethinking our most basic assumptions about happiness.

Why We Fight

Why We Fight

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Provocative and eye-opening, Why We Fight is one of three slim selections of philosophical texts and excerpts--along with Why We Need Love and Why Our Decisions Don't Matter--introduced and contextualized by acclaimed author Simon Van Booy (Love Begins in Winter, The Secret Lives of People in Love).