Sunday, July 23, 2017

Book Review: Think: A compelling introduction to philosophy

Think: A compelling introduction to philosophy by Simon Blackburn is an overview of most of the important questions answered by philosophy. The author mentions at the outset: "This book is for people who want to think about the big themes: knowledge, reason, truth, mind, freedom, destiny, identity, God, goodness, justice - the things that men and women wonder about naturally" The first chapter itself set in motion my efforts to think. For, as the author puts it rather dramatically, Knowledge began "on 10 November 1619.      On that date...the French mathematician and philosopher RenĂ© Descartes...opened the unfolding of the one true way to find knowledge." And the scientific revolution left us with more problems, a significant one of which is analyzed next - mind. How the knowledge of our own minds fares vis-a-vis the knowledge of the rest of the world. How to understand things and describe them we have come to specify various concepts that are rule-governed, which has given rise to realism, conceptual-ism, and nomilalism. Our idea always is to find harmony between our thoughts and the world, the bridge we build between past and future. The sense of what the physical world contains and how our minds fit into it, are all topics which keep the finest thinkers of each generation busy. There always is the hope of a better world.
The book goes on to discuss other such topics, like, mind, free will, etc.

I enjoyed the book. I think it reflected many of my thoughts. For example, see the discussion about self. In one word, self-reflection represent human nature. "Human beings are relentlessly capable of reflecting on themselves. We might do something out of habit, but then we can begin to reflect on the habit. We can habitually think things, and then reflect on what we are thinking." (I have written about this, how the very idea of philosophical thoughts arises from a biological need!)