The Routledge Philosophers (series).

Title: The Routledge Philosophers: (Series).
Editor/s: Leiter, Brian.
Material type: Book.
Publisher/date: Routledge.
Format: Paperback. (Between 250 – 350 pages.)
Area and topic: History of philosophy and ideas.
Intended audience/ reading level: Tertiary/lower.
Purchasing and information:
  1. routledge.com/philosophy/search/
  2. amazon.com
  3. fishpond.co.nz
Unique and/or salient feature/s: Each volume in the ‘Routledge Philosophers’ series presents a general introduction and comprehensive overview of one of the great Western philosophers and their work. Each title is written by a different respected contemporary author/philosopher. Each author offers a critical assessment of the main positions and key arguments held by the featured philosopher.
Synopsis and/or additional information: The following information is sourced from the above links (see ‘Purchasing and information’).

  • All of the featured philosophers and their works are considered in light of the wider philosophical and cultural context in which they are situated. Furthermore, the authors of each volume discuss the legacy of each position in line with subsequent (and current) philosophical developments.
  • Depending on the book, additional features may include: chronologies of major dates and events, chapter summaries, annotated suggestions for further reading and a glossaries of technical terms.
  • The present book titles are (no particular order): Habermas, Aquinas, Socrates, Adorno, Mill, Foucault, Plato, Hume, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Russell, Merleau-Ponty, Spinoza, Rawls, Aristotle, Husserl, Darwin, Kant, Freud, Hobbes, Leibniz, Hegel, Rousseau, Schopenhauer, Locke.
  • Title example: ‘Schopenhauer’ By Julian Young. ‘Beginning with an overview of Schopenhauer’s life and work, he [Young] introduces the central aspects of [Schopenhauer’s] metaphysics fundamental to understanding his work as a whole; his philosophical idealism and debt to the philosophy of Kant; his attempt to answer the question of what the world is; his account of science; and in particular his idea that ‘will’ is the essence of all things. Julian Young then introduces and assesses Schopenhauer’s aesthetics, which occupy a central place in his philosophy … before assessing his ethics of compassion, his arguments for pessimism and his account of ‘salvation’. In the final chapter, Young considers Schopenhauer’s legacy and his influence on the thought of Nietzsche and Wittgenstein.
Strengths: Many (if not most) of the original texts written by the philosophers featured in this series can be hard to follow and understand. Their writing output is often large, varied and spread over many years; their philosophical positions often change as they develop and the original texts tend to include content that is of little philosophical and/or contemporary interest or relevance. To accommodate these issues and related problems, each title in this series offers a helpful relatively short, comprehensive yet ‘readable’ overview of each philosopher and their work. Importantly, special attention is given to selecting only those themes and issues of historical and contemporary importance and significance. Because of these reasons, each volume may serve as a helpful guide for understanding the primary texts of specific philosophers or as introductory overviews for those who do not to require any further exploration. Also, teachers may choose to select specific titles if they wish to focus exclusively on one philosopher or (if up to the challenge) they could read the series as a whole for a more in-depth introduction to philosophy.
Limitations: Arguably, rather than an entire series, a single volume that covers all (or most of) the major philosophers may suffice for the purpose of secondary level philosophy. On the other hand,  as with most overviews and guide books, there is a loss of richness and depth of understanding that may only be gained from direct engagement with the primary texts.

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