Philosophy For Dummies

Philosophy For Dummies

by Tom Morris


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Philosophy For Dummies by Tom Morris

Philosophy at its best is an activity more than a body ofknowledge. In an ancient sense, done right, it is a healing art.It’s intellectual self-defense. It’s a form of therapy.But it’s also much more. Philosophy is map-making for thesoul, cartography for the human journey. It’s an importantnavigational tool for life that too many modern people try to dowithout.

Philosophy For Dummies is for anyone who has everentertained a question about life and this world. In aconversational tone, the book's author – amodern-day scholar and lecturer – brings thegreatest wisdom of the past into the challenges that we face now.This refreshingly different guide explains philosophicalfundamentals and explores some of the strangest and deepestquestions ever posed to human beings, such as

  • How do we know anything?
  • What does the word good mean?
  • Are we ever really free?
  • Do human beings have souls?
  • Is there life after death?
  • Is there a God?
  • Is happiness really possible in our world?

This book is chock full of all those questions you may have longwanted to think about and talk with someone about, but have neverhad the time or opportunity to tackle head on. Philosophy ForDummies invites you to discuss the issues you find in theguide, share perspectives, and compare thoughts and feelings withsomeone you respect. You'll find lots of material to mull over withyour friends or spouse, including thoughts on

  • When to doubt, and when to doubt our doubts
  • The universal demand for evidence and proof
  • The four dimensions of human experience
  • Arguments for materialism
  • Fear of the process of dying
  • Prayers and small miracles
  • Moral justification for allowing evil

The ancient philosopher Socrates (fifth century, B.C.) thoughtthat, when it comes to the Ultimate Questions, we all start off asdummies. But if we are humbly aware of how little we actually know,then we can really begin to learn. Philosophy For Dummieswill put you on the path to wising up as you steer through theexperience called life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764551536
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 09/28/1999
Series: For Dummies Series
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 178,223
Product dimensions: 7.35(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.82(d)

About the Author

Tom Morris, Ph.D., author of True Success and other books, taught philosophy at Notre Dame University for 15 years and currently heads the Morris Institute for Human Values.

Table of Contents


PART I: What Is Philosophy, Anyway?

Chapter 1: Great Thinkers, Deep Thoughts.

Chapter 2: Philosophy as an Activity.

Chapter 3: The Love of Wisdom.

PART II: How Do We Know Anything?

Chapter 4: Belief, Truth, and Knowledge.

Chapter 5: The Challenge of Skepticism.

Chapter 6: The Amazing Reality of Basic Beliefs.

PART III: What Is the Good?

Chapter 7: What Is Good?

Chapter 8: Happiness, Excellence, and the Good Life.

Chapter 9: Ethical Rules and Moral Character.

PART IV: Are We Ever Really Free?

Chapter 10: Fate, Destiny, and You.

Chapter 11: Standard Views of Freedom.

Chapter 12: Just Do It: Human Agency in the World.

PART V: The Incredible, Invisible You.

Chapter 13: What Is a Person?

Chapter 14: The Case for Materialism.

Chapter 15: The Case for Dualism.

PART VI: What's the Deal with Death?

Chapter 16: From Dust to Dust: Fear and the Void.

Chapter 17: Philosophical Consolations on Death.

Chapter 18: Is There Life After Death?

PART VII: Is There a God?

Chapter 19: Two World Views.

Chapter 20: Theistic Visions.

Chapter 21: The Problem of Evil.

PART VIII: The Meaning of Life.

Chapter 22: What Is the Meaning of Life?

Chapter 23: Pascal's Wager: Betting Your Life.

Chapter 24: Success and Happiness in Life.

PART IX: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 25: Ten Great Philosophers.

Chapter 26: Ten Great Questions.


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Philosophy for Dummies 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was noticing all the extreme's of opinion on the reviews for this book. I have finished Morris's Philosophy for Dummies and although I did read it cover to cover and enjoy his writing style, the whole time I felt like there were serious defects with the coverage of the subject. Specifically, I bought this book because I've tried to pour through Kant, Nietzche and even The Republic, and couldn't get my mind around it. There was very little in this book about Nietzche except that he is described as a 19th century wildman and something about the abdomen. Coverage of the Greeks and early modern philosophers (Descarte) was much better. I was dissapointed that basically only Mr. Morris was there, with his stories and perspective. He is obviously an intelligent and persuasive writer, but is that enough? So, here is my suggestion for improving edition II: Morris is obviously a strong and powerful arguer for Theism. I can respect that, and philosophy needs those views. However, the book needs to be CO-AUTHORED by strong and powerful arguer for Atheism and Naturalism. It can be set up in chapters like edition I, but instead they are spilt into sections like 'The case for God' and 'the case against God'. I think then the book would be a real bang up intoduction to living, breathing philosophy. Also, I want to hear more about the Kant, the Nihilists and the 19th century wildman. I think it's funny that Morris goes on for a whole chapter about Skepticism, and then bases his later beliefs on stories of the supernatural! OK, one final specific gripe and I'm out: Regarding the cosmological reason for the existance of God, Morris fails to explain to my satisfaction why the universe cannot have an essential explanation. Seems like he's grasping at straws as to why the universe exists in its current form. Check it out on page 252...what do you think?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book truly is for dummies, since one cannot help but be annoyed with a book attempting to introduce one to the topic of philosophy, yet at the same time so massively filled with the authors own biased beliefs fusing into it. From the first chapter i could easily tell what the conclusion of the rest of the issues would be, particularly concerning ethics, free will, materialism/dualism, and especially God. Knowing full well Morris is a theist, particularly if he's at Notre Dame (i.e. with Alvin Plantinga), I at least hoped it wouldn't be so biased,ESPECIALLY considering this is supposed to be a book introducing the topic. While there are some parts that are of interest, at least to someone who knows nothing about different views in philosophy, ultimately the entire book is a biased theistic worldview masked under an intro to philosophy book. By the time i had reached page 200 i was so annoyed with the book i didn't bother finishing it for a couple more days. His critiques of non-objective ethics are very weak, his position on materialism is very unfounded, consistently, in my view, committing the fallacy of equivocation concerning 'mind' and 'brain' in order to set the materialist up. Likewise for his free will and God parts, I couldn't help but sit there and think 'is this a joke'? This book isn't bad for a theistic minded person, or for an experienced philosophy student or professional, since one (hopefully) will see how awful the arguments are. However, there are plenty of books with bad arguments that are biased. The true negative of this book is it's supposed to be an introduction, for dummies no less, and it seems rather unfair (and unethical) to bias the entire book towards a theistic worldview knowing most readers will know little of the subject and be convinced pretty easily. I'd recommend reading any other book with 'intro to philosophy' on the title before i'd recommend anyone ever reading this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I confess I only bought this book to put it on my shelf next to my real philosophy collection. I knew the title alone would make my friends laugh. Eventually, I became curious to see how it rated as an introduction to philosophy, and i was absolutely shocked to find it was an incredibly biased defense of theism. While he has some cutesy quotes and amusing anecdotes, as an introduction to philosophy it is entirely worthless unless you want a philosophical worldview that has been intellectually unraveling for hundreds of years. Don't waste your money.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tom Morris' Philosophy for Dummies provides a great beginning to the world of philosophy. Having picked up books on philosophy before, and put them down because the writing was so dense, I found his style to help me realize that philosophy doesn't have to be a dry, uninteresting topic. Reading the book I could imagine Morris' standing before a philosophy class at Notre Dame inspiring them to think for themselves. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to expand their intellectual horizons. I think it is an ideal book to give to high school students to prepare them for the wide ranging intellectual challenges they will face in college.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not a student of philosophy and decided to read the book to get a general idea what philosophy is all about. I think I will need to read the book a couple of more times to fully understand the topic. I feel that if more real-life examples were applied to each of the chapters, it will make the book more enjoyable reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Worth its weight in gold, the author has distilled many years of hard work and wisdom into an easy to read Dummies book. Tom Morris provides an enlightening question and answer journey in this book, describing arguments for and against the largest questions about life, covering the views of many prominent philosophers. In my Philosophy 101 course in college I learned a little bit about philosophy while engaging in a large amount of late night hair pulling. In contrast, reading this book I find myself learning a lot about philosophy, in the most important areas of my life, in an enjoyable and readable format.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As with his other books, Morris raises the biggest question of all -- why do so many of us literally sleepwalk through life and ignore the biggest questions? And as usual, there is no answer, but it is nice to know somebody keeps asking the basic questions.
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This book is concise, easily understood and a useful tool in studying philosophy or just learning more about it. The style has the basic fundamentals and leads one to pursue philosophy in greater depth. Especially helpful to students or teachers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a poor excuse for a philosophy book. Is this what it's come to? One who writes a 'philosophy for dummies' must have no idea what philosophy is. In philosophy, there are no 'dummies.' This man simply doesn't get it. The wrong idea of philosophy is portrayed here, that an 'elite mind' (the author) must show us all the way. Also, the book is very biased.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Perhaps my opinion is related to the translation into the Dutch language. Perhaps it is the reason I got annoyed. I give you one example. The author makes a comparison between a theistic view of life and a naturalistic one. The first is a description in a positive way the second he uses the negative language like no free will, no God and so on. It offends me. I have a humanistic view on the world. Suppose I wrote: the theistic view is a view without compassion, no positiv believe in human capacities, no sense for eternal live (because of no ending, thus boring living). To the opposite: humanistic view is based on compassion with mankind, free will, equal rights between all people. What would the author say? I am sure he will be exeptional offended. And he would have right. The same happened with me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Worst book ever. So biased and bigoted. He should be ashamed for pretending to be a scholar. His implication that we all need to believe in god to be happy is pathetic. Apparently the author doesn't watch the news much to see all the devastation created in the name of God.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Philosophy for Dummies is an invitation to journey not only in the world of philosophy but into a world of self-discovery while using ¿well the wisdom of those who have come before us.¿ - As you read through the chapters of Philosophy for Dummies you will be faced with the challenge to reexamine and question your own views on such topics as `What is the Good¿, `Are We Ever Really Free¿, and `Is There a God¿. Each chapter building on the last, in an easy to read format, creating a foundation on which to ask the ultimate questions - ¿what is the Meaning of Life and how can we find Happiness? - As I read through Philosophy for Dummies I released I was being given the opportunity to discover what it was that I really believe as true and learned in the process that by opening myself to questions my own vision of `who I am¿ opened to a freer and deeper truth. There are no easy answers yet perhaps just asking the questions is a start and Philosophy for Dummies¿ is a good guide for anyone who wishes to use it that way. -- ¿Go with the truth you have, and let it carry you into collision with the hard rocks of life, and then you¿ll learn something¿ ¿ A.F.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While this book is somewhat biased, in that the author makes no attempt to hide his own personal stance on the issues presented, it is still an extremely valuable and worthwhile read. I've read several of his books, and in all of them, Morris is gifted with an easy-to-read and personal writing style. Despite the casual tone, this book presents many topics of serious importance, in an understandable and fascinating way. The book does generally lead towards the dualistic theism position, but continuously emphasizes the need for skepticism and personal insight. Morris is simply offering his honest view while encouraging the reader to search for his own answers. For me, the book's most important contribution was that it gave me a rough grounding in philosophy, and stimulated a consuming interest to learn more. That is precisely what an introductory book should do, and that is far more important than any conclusions the book offers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I began Philosophy for Dummies I was not sure what to expect. I need not have worried. After a few pages, I realized that this was going to be an intellectual and spiritual adventure in vintage Tom Morris style. I finished with a vision of a college bookstore and a beginning philosophy student catching sight of a stack of Philosophy for Dummies. She picks one up thinking she is going to get some generic overview of the teachings of various philosophers, something that might help her in the course she is worried about. What a surprise she is in for! Sure, what she reads will give her on edge on her course work. But, more importantly, she will find herself challenged to come to grips with the most basic and important issues which she faces as a thinking, questioning inhabitant of this incredible universe. Theories, speculation, philosophical argumentation will take their proper place in relation to those ultimate concerns which will push her to make choices on the worldview she will commit to and live by. If you want just a summary of the history of philosophy, there are numerous books you can find. But if you want to be engaged at the deepest level of your being, if you want to face life's most compelling questions and find a road map to guide you in finding the most convincing and satisfying answers to those questions, then read Philosophy for Dummies.