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About the Author

Julian Baggini is the author, co-author or editor of over twenty books including How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy (2018); A Short History of Truth: Consolations for a Post-Truth World (2018); The Edge of Reason: A Rational Skeptic in an Irrational World (2017), and The Pig that show more Wants to be Eaten and 99 other thought experiments (2010). He was the founding editor of The Philosopher's Magazine and has worked with the think tanks The Institute of Public Policy Research, Demos and Counterpoint. He has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, Prospect and Aeon, and makes regular appearances on radio and television. He is Academic Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent. His website is www.microphilosophy.net. show less
Image credit: Courtesy of Allen and Unwin

Works by Julian Baggini

The Ego Trick (2011) 146 copies
What Philosophers Think (2003) — Editor — 136 copies
Welcome to Everytown (2007) 88 copies
Great Thinkers A-Z (2004) 79 copies
The Big Questions: Ethics (2012) 38 copies
Philosophy: Key Themes (2002) 36 copies
Philosophy: Key Texts (2002) 24 copies
Philosophers' Snack Pack (2000) 7 copies
Hume on religion (2010) 7 copies

Associated Works


21st century (11) anthology (11) atheism (145) British (9) Christmas (38) critical thinking (41) ebook (26) England (10) essays (35) ethics (71) free will (9) goodreads (15) history (23) humor (30) interviews (11) Kindle (17) language (10) logic (40) non-fiction (308) own (10) philosophers (9) philosophy (965) politics (10) popular philosophy (15) psychology (32) read (43) reason (9) reasoning (10) reference (37) religion (121) science (22) skepticism (22) Theology (10) thought experiments (24) to-read (238) UK (10) unread (33) Very Short Introductions (21) VSI (15) wishlist (12)

Common Knowledge



I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand the authors do what they (more or less) suggest one should NOT do. And that is that one's reading should be slow, critical and analytical.....and, it is kind-of implied, though not stated, that one should be reading the original texts. And, I agree with all these sentiments. So why have they produced a digest of the key works? Well they say that it is to provide a set of keys that will make it easier to read and make sense of these six important philosophical works.
OK. I think it does that. Not easy to do but I think they have achieved their objective and it's rather like having a lecturer speaking about the various texts....but, to get the most out of it one still needs to read the originals: slowly, critically and analytically.
The six books selected for this volume represent a broad spread of philosophy's great literature. Three are indisputably classics: Plato's Republic, Descartes's Meditations and Hume's Enquiry.
Mill's On Liberty is a seminal contribution to political philosophy and ethics, and represents one of the most influential arguments for liberalism.
Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Eviland Sartre's Existentialism and Humanism however spring from a somewhat different tradition. Western philosophy since the late nineteenth century divides into two divergent traditions: the Anglo-American 'Analytic' school and the European 'Continental' school. Nietzsche can be seen as a forerunner of existentialism and an influence upon elements of the later European 'post-modern' philosophy. Sartre can be seen as a development out of the Franco-German 'phenomenological' school, which began with Husserl and Heidegger. However, Nietzsche is notoriously enigmatic, ambiguous and open interpretation,
Sartre's masterwork, Being and Nothingness, is a dense doorstop of a tome. The purpose of this book is therefore to help beginners approach these somewhat daunting thinkers — Nietzsche, through a commentary on arguably his most popular and accessible work, and Sartre, through an exploration of the brief popular account of existentialism which was originally a public lecture.
The authors say that "Having read this book slowly, critically and analytically, our hope is that you will be able to read the original texts themselves in exactly the same way".
I'ver actually done that for three of the works and have read Nietzsche's work without gaining much understanding. And have never tried with Satre's masterwork. ...though I've read abstracts like the current book. My hope was that the current book would act like a critical refresher for me...and I think it's done that. I especially like the way that they hav e added their own critical assessments of the arguments and how they have stood the test of time and critical re view by other philosophers.
Happy to give the book five stars.
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booktsunami | Jul 5, 2023 |
كتاب يتلخص في سطر "يجب عليك أن لا تؤمن بالحكم والأقوال المأثورة بشكل قاطع .. فهي قد تكون خاطئة أحياناً".
طبعاً أتفق مع هذا المبدأ منذ وقت طويل ودائماً ما أتعامل مع الحكم بحذر وأحاول أن لا أتبنى أي حكمة بشكل قاطع .. ولكن هل من المنطقي أن أقرأ كتاباً من 200 صفحة عن هذا الموضوع؟
طبعاً لا .. ولذلك فقد كانت قراءتي للكتاب متقطعة وغير متسلسلة حيث أن كل صفحتين تدور حول مقولة معينة ولذلك اخترت منها ما أعجبني أن اقرأه.
ورغم أنني اقتبست مقولتين من الكتاب لوضعهم في صفحتي على الفيسبوك .. إلا أنني لن أنصح احداً بقراءة الكتاب.
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AdnanJCh | 1 other review | Feb 15, 2023 |

This book delivers what it promises: engaging 100 thought experiments that are a wonderful introduction to the most basic philosophical puzzles. It is a great read for anyone new to philosophy and those who feel overwhelmed by the history of philosophy and keep asking themselves, "Well, where do I start?"
I, being someone who knew about half of the things discussed in this book, did not feel that it's boring or stale since the author cleverly wrote out different hypothetical scenarios as an introduction to each concept, and they were almost always humorous and witty (I mean, come on, the title IS a reference from a Hitchhiker's Guide book). Easily one of the best "popular philosophy" books.

It should be pointed out, however, that this is not a reference book; and that is why it doesn't leave you satisfied since it covers ideas VERY briefly and not in depth at all. Nevertheless, the author mentions the source of most experiments so you may easily expand on a particular subject (which is why I am at the moment waiting to get my copy of Thus Spoke Zarathustra!) Also, it cannot be read in one sitting: you read so little, and you think so much. Which makes this book a great one for those who are easily bored by reading walls of text, but don't mind spending too much time with it.

Overall, I recommend it. It's a nice addition to any library.
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womanwoanswers | 16 other reviews | Dec 23, 2022 |
Baggini always writes clearly and well. This book covers what atheism is and is not, gives some of its history, discusses its critics, and describes the foundations of ethics available to atheists and non-atheists alike.
It is a quick read, shorter than some other works in the Very Short Introduction series.
It was first published in 2003, a few years before the term New Atheism became popular. So this, 2021, second edition adds a chapter about that movement and the world's reaction to it.… (more)
mykl-s | 6 other reviews | Sep 25, 2022 |



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