Reading Philosophy (series).

Title: Reading Philosophy (series).
Editor/s: Each volume has its own editor/s
Material type: Book.
Publisher/date: Wiley.
Format: Paperback. (Between 250 – 350 pages.)
Area and topic: History of philosophy and ideas. Core areas/branches/ sub-disciplines of philosophy. Student text book.
Intended audience/ reading level: Tertiary/lower.
Purchasing and information:
Unique and/or salient feature/s: ‘Reading Philosophy’ is a series of text books focused on specific core topics and sub-disciplines of philosophy. Each volume in the series offers a balance between a) edited anthology of key and important classic and contemporary readings from seminal philosophical texts on the subject in question; and b) interactive instruction and commentary by the books editor/s to assist exploration and analysis of the text.
Synopsis and/or additional information: The following information is sourced from the above links (see ‘Purchasing and information’) and the text.

  • Written for readers with little or no exposure to the subject under discussion, the aim is to encourage the practice of philosophy in the process of engagement with philosophical texts.
  • Although drawing from important writings from various periods in the history of philosophy, the series is not intended as a historical survey of the development of philosophy – nor is the emphasis on quantity of selection. The main focus is on exploring important aspects of specific core topics or disciplines as they currently stand in the present philosophical climate. To this end, the readings selected are those that best, or at least sufficiently, represent those aspects.
  • Typical features of each volume include: Book introduction from the editors outlining the main subjects principal concerns; a number of topical chapters each containing two primary readings accompanied by an introduction to the topic; introductions to the readings as well as extensive and in some cases interactive commentaries on the passages presented; various questions for debate; annotated bibliography.
  • Present titles are, ‘Reading  …  Philosophy of Religion, Ethics, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Language’, and ‘Reading Philosophy’ (each of the above titles is followed by the line ‘Selected Texts with Interactive Commentary’).
  • Example title ‘Reading Ethics: Selected Texts with Interactive Commentary’ Chapter 1)  Goodness. 2) Justice. 3) Reasons for Action. 4) Subjectivism and Objectivism.5) Morality and Obligation. 6) Boundaries of Moral Philosophy.
  • Each chapter in turn has various sub-headings. For example, chapter 1) ‘The Good’, has the following sub headings: Introduction. Introduction to Aristotle. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (extracts from Book I). Commentary on Aristotle. Introduction to Mill. J. S. Mill, Utilitarianism (extracts from Ch. 2, ‘What Utilitarianism Is’). Commentary on Mill. Introduction to Foot. Philippa Foot, ‘Utilitarianism and the Virtues’ (extracts). Commentary on Foot.
Strengths: The series offers an excellent way of introducing the discipline of philosophy as presently practiced through direct acquaintance with the readings of the great philosophers past and present. Furthermore, the series adopts an interactive approach to ensure that the reader/student is actively philosophically engaged with the issues. For these reasons, and because the books are essentially a series of text books, they are well suited to secondary school level philosophy.
Limitations: The target audience is probably tertiary level so the readings may be slightly difficult in parts for secondary school students. Teachers may find ways to accommodate this problem e.g. by selecting easier parts of the book; or by editing/paraphrasing other parts to make the writings easier to comprehend and/or read. This however maybe somewhat time consuming.

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