This important work is a wonderful attempt at making the perennial problems of philosophers come alive with meaning for those who are just beginning their journey into the turbulent depths of philosophical reasoning.
The attraction of philosophy is its thoughtful yet intensely critical exploration of the fundamental beliefs, concepts, and ideas that shape our understanding and influence our lives. Successful efforts to make such concerns intelligible, let alone captivating or compelling for the uninitiated reader, are extremely rare. Yet Dr. Mackenzie has accomplished this feat through his extraordinary ability to untangle the complexities of ancient and contemporary problems while demonstrating the beauty of philosophical exploration.
So often one hears that philosophy is too complicated for beginners to grasp, that contemporary readers are ill-prepared for the rigorous demands that analyses and syntheses of theoretical ideas require. Irrespective of such claims, it is to Dr. Mackenzie's credit that The Problems of Philosophers brings home to receptive minds, both young and old, some of the basic metaphysical questions that have captivated, puzzled, and perplexed intellectuals for centuries. In each case Dr. Mackenzie unravels difficult problems in an engaging style that sustains both the reader's interest and enthusiasm for each new topic encountered.
As the text moves from the Pre-Socratics and Plato to critical thinking, informal fallacies, and on to Descartes, readers will emerge with sharpened skills and a keener understanding of method. Later these techniques are directed to special problems: the existence and nature of God, freedom, mind and body, and moral knowledge. Whether the discussion centers on Thales, Zeno, Protagoras, Lucretius, Socrates, Plato, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Bentham, Mill, or Kant, interested readers will come away with a new-found confidence in their own ability to engage in philosophical discourse, and a deeper appreciation not only for critical analysis but also for carefully crafted, well-developed arguments.
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About the Author
Patrick T. Mackenzie is professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.