Month: August 2013

Mel Thompson : Understand Philosophy

This book in the ‘Teach Yourself’ series was certainly worth reading, and I did learn a thing or two from it, but my final impression was still one of slight disappointment. I was probably hoping for too much. So far I’d picked up most of my general information on Western philosophy haphazardly, indirectly and via-via, from the background information offered by people writing on related or much more specialised subjects. I’d read a rather difficult book on the philosophy of time (Craig Bourne’s A Future for Presentism), a book on logic, and over the last four decades countless books on Eastern philosophy, meditation, astrology, psychology, politics, etc., etc., etc., written by or about people as diverse as Aldous Huxley, Colin Wilson, George Gurdjieff, Carl Gustav Jung and the Dalai Lama, to mention just a very few examples. You can’t read all that (plus a wide range of literature and literary criticism) without picking up a fair bit of information about people like Plato, Kant and Marx, and in more recent years I’d read countless Wikipedia articles on most of the better known Western philosophers and their ideas. And last but not least I’d read Sophie’s World twice! I’m pretty certain, however, that this was the first general textbook I’ve ever read on the subject, the first book written for adults which claimed (in its very title!) to enable me to ‘Understand Philosophy’, and for some reason I seem to have made the unconscious assumption that this book was going to change my life… (more…)