Philosophical Tales: Being an Alternative History Revealing the Characters, the Plots, and the Hidden Scenes That Make Up the True Story of Philosophy / Edition 1

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Was Socrates really the saintly figure he became for later philosophy? Why is it doubtful that Descartes ever really uttered, "I think, therefore I am"? And what did Sartre have against waiters, anyway? The history of philosophy is filled with great tales - many of them fictions, misrepresentations, falsehoods, lies, and fibs. Or are they just misstatements, prevarications, and narratives not entirely based on fact? In the true spirit of a broad philosophical debate, Philosophical Tales dips a toe into the great sea of philosophy to collect, deconstruct, and relate many of history's great - and not so great - philosophical tales.

Enlightening and entertaining, Philosophical Tales examines a few of the fascinating biographical details of history's greatest philosophers (alas, mostly men) and highlights their contributions to the field. By applying the true philosophical approach to philosophy itself, the text provides us with a refreshing "alternative history" of philosophy.

Mind you, why should someone want to know that Kant rolled himself three times in his sheets each night before sleeping, that Schopenhauer pushed a poor old lady down the stairs, or that Marx spent as much time on beer and women as he did in the British Library? Yet, by examining the seeming trivialities of philosophers' lives - and skewering a few cherished myths along the way - Philosophical Tales provides us with illuminating insights that will encourage a more active, critical way of thinking. Blaise Pascal may have put it best when he said, "To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher."

About the Author:
Martin Cohen is a teacher and writer specializing in philosophy,ethics, and education, with a special interest in computing

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“We need more stories in philosophy, and Martin Cohen aims to fill this lacuna with Philosophical Tales. [This book] is intended for a general audience interested in a satirical introduction to overlooked aspects of Western philosophy and the lives of the great philosophers.  Philosophical Tales does tell a number of interesting stories, and any instructor of philosophy will find it handy to have these stories available to enliven a class.  Instructors will also find it valuable to use these philosophical tales to raise a compelling question: is a philosophy only as good as the philosopher who proposes it?” (Teaching Philosophy, December 2009) 

"Great philosophers only become well known after their deaths. Indeed, to speak of contemporary celebrity philosophers is oxymoronic. Still, one can't help wondering who amongst living philosophers will merit future Philosophical Tales. (The Philosopher, Autumn 2008)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405140362
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/3/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Cohen is a teacher and writer specializing in philosophy, ethics and education, with a special interest in computing. His books include 101 Philosophy Problems (2nd edn., 2001), Political Philosophy (2001), 101 Ethical Dilemmas (2003), and Wittgenstein's Beetle and Other Classic Thought Experiments (Blackwell, 2005). He has been editor of The Philosopher since 1995.

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Table of Contents

Forward!     viii
How to Use this Book     x
Philosophical Illustrations     xiii
The Tales
The Ancients     1
Socrates the Sorcerer (469-399 BCE)     3
The Different Forms of Plato (ca. 427-347 BCE)     7
Aristotle the Aristocrat (384-ca. 322 BCE)     14
More Ancients     27
Lao Tzu Changes into Nothing (6th-5th C. BCE)     29
Pythagoras Counts Up to Ten (ca. 570-495 BCE)     33
Heraclitus Chooses the Dark Side of the River (ca. 5th C. BCE)     41
Hypatia Holds Up Half of the Sky (ca. 370-415 CE)     45
Medieval Philosophy     51
Augustine the Hippocrite (354-430 CE)     53
St. Thomas Aquinas Disputes the Existence of God (1225-1274)     61
Modern Philosophy     73
Descartes the Dilettante (1596-1650)     75
Hobbes Squares the Circle (1588-1679)     82
Spinoza Grinds Himself Away... (1632-1677)     89
Enlightened Philosophy     97
John Locke Invents the Slave Trade (1632-1704)     99
The Many Faces of David Hume (1711-1776)     107
Rousseau the Rogue (1712-1778)     123
Immanuel Kant, the Chinaman of Konigsburg (1724-1804)     132
The Idealists     139
Gottfried Leibniz, the Thinking Machine (1646-1716)     141
Bishop Berkeley's Bermuda College (1685-1753)     155
Headmaster Hegel's Dangerous History Lesson (1770-1831)     163
Arthur Schopenhauer and the Little Old Lady (1788-1860)     171
The Romantics     179
The Seduction of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)     181
Mill's Poetical Turn (1806-1873)     188
Henry Thoreau and Life in the Shed (1817-1862)     193
Marx's Revolutionary Materialism (1818-1883)     199
Recent Philosophy     205
Russell Denotes Something (1872-1970)     207
The Ripping Yarn of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)     214
Heidegger's Tale (and the Nazis) (1889-1976)     221
Benjamin Lee Whorf and the Color Pinker (ca. 1900-1950)     231
Being Sartre and Not Definitely Not Being Beauvoir (1905-1980 and not 1908-1986)     239
Deconstructing Derrida (1930-2004)     245
Scholarly Appendix: Women in Philosophy, and Why There Aren't Many     251
Key Sources and Further Reading     259
Acknowledgments     268
Index     269
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