‘Metaphysics: The Fundamentals’ by Robert C. Koons and Timothy Pickavance

1405195746Fresh out this month, Metaphysics: The Fundamentals gives students and instructors a comprehensive survey of the whole of analytic metaphysics. Includes introductions to the metaphysical work of particular figures (contemporary and historical), and explores all the key questions. See more.

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Reviews:

 “Robert C. Koons and Timothy H. Pickavance have mastered the art of succinct and non-technical digression. They are to be commended for their clear summaries. And, most important, they write in a way that invites readers to make up their own minds without attempting to conceal their own conclusions. As a result they have written a refreshingly different introduction to metaphysics, which I highly recommend.”

Peter Forrest, University of New England

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“A superb overview of the central issues in contemporary metaphysics, written with clarity and rigor, exploring both particular issues and deep structural divides. ”

Alexander R. Pruss, Baylor University

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Interview: Philosophy and Pop Culture

We hope you’ll enjoy this brief interview withWilliam Irwin, series editor of the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series. In this brief interview, Bill tells us about his passion for getting new people into philosophy, and how the series aims to do that by illuminating traditional philosophical problems with examples from pop culture. The books draw on sources as diverse as Harry Potter, Inception, Game of Thrones, and more.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to edit The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series?

I’m a huge fan of pop culture in its many forms including movies, TV, and music. Talking about these things has always been a way for me to connect with students in the classroom at King’s College, and it just seemed natural to bring these connections into book form.

What’s the central concern of the series, and why is it important?

The aim is to bring philosophy to people who might not otherwise encounter it, by bringing ancient wisdom and probing inquiry to bear on current movies and TV. Many people already think deeply about their favourite elements of pop culture, so these books give people the philosophical tools and terminology to think more deeply.

And what is it that draws you to this broad area?

I’m passionate about getting people interested in philosophy, and this is one way to do that. “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” as a famous British philosopher once said.

What sort of reaction do you hope the books will get?

So far the reaction has been very positive. Not a week goes by that I don’t get an e-mail from someone telling me how these books have made an impact on their life. More and more, I hear from philosophy majors who first became interested in philosophy by reading one of these books.

What sort of audience did you have in mind for these books?

The books are aimed at smart fans of smart pop culture, the kind of people who really like to discuss and dissect their favourite movies, shows, songs, and video games. They are intended for regular people, not professors :).

Is there another book or series you wish you could claim credit for?

I wish I had written Denis Dutton’s The Art Instinct and Jesse Bering’s The Belief Instinct, two incredibly insightful and elegantly written books. I really like Blackwell’s Big Questions Series. I’ve used the Aesthetics and Metaphysics books very successfully in courses. I’d like to see new volumes on Political Philosophy and Eastern Philosophy in the Big Questions Series.

What’s your current project? What’s next?

The series continues with books in the works on Inception, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory, and others.

How can someone get in touch with you about an idea for a new volume in the series?

I’m always glad to hear from anyone who has an idea for a new book in the series, whether it’s a pop culture fan who would like to see a certain topic covered or a professor who has an idea for a book he or she would like to edit. Just e-mail me at williamirwin@kings.edu.


Philosophy Through Film – Interview with the authors

Richard FumertonDiane JeskeWe recently sat down with Richard Fumerton and Diane Jeske (University of Iowa), the editors of Introducing Philosophy Through Film: Key Texts, Discussion, and Film Selections. In this brief interview, they tell us how the book is different from other introductory texts in its class, and about the great reaction the book is already getting in teaching situations.

 

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write Introducing Philosophy Through Film?

We discovered over the past several years that we were very often talking about movies in our classes to illustrate more vividly some of the thought experiments that are such an important part of so much of analytic philosophy.  We noticed that students immediately seem to become more engaged as soon as they could relate the philosophical reading to something that they are already used to talking about in more informal contexts with their friends

What’s the central concern of the book, and why is it important?

The book contains readings that give students a really sound introduction to most of the main areas of contemporary philosophy.  It differs from standard introductory texts by pairing those readings with philosophically interesting Continue reading “Philosophy Through Film – Interview with the authors”

Epistemology, Dreaming, Inception

Chistopher Nolan’s imaginative and visually stunning thriller Inception is looking more and more like the hit film of the summer, if not the year. I won’t write here about the nature of the film as danielwilson’s post already does that. Instead, I’ll be concentrating on the ways in which the movie draws on epistemological problems first raised by Descartes.  (Guaranteed spoiler-free!)

Unusually for a commercially successful movie, Inception raises a number of engaging (if well-worn) questions. Indeed, publishers have been quick to see the appeal of the film for philosophers and their students, with open calls for abstracts issued by both Open Court and Blackwell within just a few days of each other.

The central question raised by the film is familiar from a number of sci-fi films, most reminiscently evoking the epistemological conundrums of The Matrix. How does one know when one is dreaming? Pinch me?

How well do you know the back of your hand?

Image: Solipsist (Wikipedia)

Of all the many and varied objects we encounter in the world, we would ordinarily presume that we know none better than our own body. Descartes describes his pre-theoretical view of himself and his state of knowledge in Meditation 2: “As regarded the body, I did not even doubt of its nature, but thought I distinctly knew it”. However, new research reported on the BBC suggests that we do not accurately represent that most familiar of objects half as accurately as we might think. In fact, the evidence suggest that our conception of our own body is systematically misleading.

Neuroscientists at University College London set up an experiment as follows. Subjects would place a hand flat on a table. The experimenter would then cover the hand with a board, and ask the volunteer to indicate where they thought certain key points of their hand – fingertips, knuckles and joints – were located Continue reading “How well do you know the back of your hand?”

FREE syllabus: Cartesian Debates on the Eternal Truths

FREE PDFTeaching & Learning Guide for: What is at Stake in the Cartesian Debates on the Eternal Truths?
By Patricia Easton, Claremont Graduate University

Keywords:

Section: History of Philosophy

Subjects: Philosophy, History of Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysics, Modern (C17th – C19th)

People: Descartes, René

Key Topics: truth, ontology

(See all Philosophy Compass Teaching & Learning Guides‘)