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In this infectiously exciting book, Bryan Magee tells the story of his own discovery of philosophy and not only makes it come alive but shows its relevance to daily life. Magee is the Carl Sagan of philosophy, the great popularizer of the subject, and author of a major new introductory history, The Story of Philosophy. Confessions follows the course of Magee's life, exploring philosophers and ideas as he himself encountered them, introducing all the great figures and their ideas, from the pre-Socratics to ...
In this infectiously exciting book, Bryan Magee tells the story of his own discovery of philosophy and not only makes it come alive but shows its relevance to daily life. Magee is the Carl Sagan of philosophy, the great popularizer of the subject, and author of a major new introductory history, The Story of Philosophy. Confessions follows the course of Magee's life, exploring philosophers and ideas as he himself encountered them, introducing all the great figures and their ideas, from the pre-Socratics to Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper, including Wittgenstein, Kant, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer, rationalism, utilitarianism, empiricism, and existentialism.
|1||Scenes from Childhood||3|
|2||My Introduction to Academic Philosophy||18|
|3||Logical Positivism and Its Refutation||34|
|5||The Inadequacy of Linguistic Philosophy||74|
|6||The Problem of Perception||91|
|7||What Can Be Shown but Not Said||107|
|8||A Yale Education||123|
|9||The Discovery of Kant||139|
|10||Professional Versus Amateur Philosophy||163|
|11||Getting to Know Popper||179|
|12||Getting to Know Russell||203|
|13||First Attempts at a Political Philosophy||213|
|14||The Search for Meaning||228|
|16||A Philosophical Novel||276|
|17||Groves of Academe||304|
|18||In Praise of Popularization||317|
|19||The Limits of Philosophy||336|
|20||The Discovery of Schopenhauer||350|
|21||The Philosophy of Schopenhauer||374|
|22||Philosophy on Television||403|
|23||The Main Split in Contemporary Philosophy||412|
Posted March 19, 2001
There are many books that serve as inroductions to philosophy, but this is the most unique and engaging that I've read. Magee's impressive knowledge of philosophy - he's personally known several of the most notable modern philosophers - is further amplified by his obvious love of the subject. A great variety of topics are covered, such as morality, politics, aesthetics and religion. But despite these weighty subjects, the book remains amiable and enjoyable; Magee's writing never sounds pompous or pithy. This book conveys philosophy's wonder and value as well as, if not better than, any other book on the subject.
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Written in an easily-readable style, Confessions introduces the genuine and timeless problems in epistemology and metaphysics (Is there an independent reality? If so, can we, and how can we, describe it? etc.) and critically exposes the self-serving, ignorant arrogance of Oxford philosophy in the mid 20th century (linguistic analysis).
Magee describes a balanced life immersed in four spheres, which may be often mistakenly viewed as mutually exclusive: the arts, philosophy, politics and television/radio broadcasting. Through them, he unveils philosophy as he himself experienced it; in his own words, "it is about ideas: the autobiographical element is medium, not message." Yet the medium is what shows the relevance of philosophy to personal life, for the fascination with and terror of fundamental philosophical problems that Magee experienced in his youth -- and had continued to experience -- is palpable.
Despite numerous instances of repeating Kant's Transcendental Idealism and reiterating the faults of inauthentic philosophical movements, and though existentialism is conspicuous only by its absence, Confessions succeeds in instilling interest and encouraging thought in the layman. Highly recommended.