What would it be like to go back in time and converse with the great sages of China, of India, of classical Greece and Rome, of the Christian and Islamic worlds, of Europeans of the Enlightenment? This book, Introduction to World Philosophy, aims to communicate some of the excitement and mind-stretchingness that such an encounter would produce. It is intended to engage interested laypersons while remaining faithful to the standards of professional scholarship. It is written in an informal style yet does not talk down to the reader. Representatives from each of the five aforementioned periods are presented in pairs--one philosopher a more head-in-the-clouds thinker and the other a more feet-on-the-ground one. Besides demonstrating how each tradition offers a range of perspectives rather than a single, dominant one, such an approach achieves an optimum balance between breadth and depth. Ideas found in these texts range from mind-bending metaphysical speculation and the theory of knowledge, to questions of ethics and politics, to points of elementary logic. The whole discussion is prefaced by an extended exploration of what philosophy is. The author feels that it is important to reach out to the general public, to feed a genuine hunger out there for an accessible guide to the subject, and also acknowledge the relevance of non-Western, as well as Western, cultures to an increasingly globalized world.
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