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An Intelligent Person's Guide to Philosophy, page 1

Persons 6. Time 7. God 8. Freedom 9. Morality Sex Music History Further Reading Index. Category: Philosophy Category: Philosophy. Paperback —. Add to Cart. Also by Roger Scruton. About Roger Scruton Roger Scruton is the author of many works of philosophy, criticism and fiction. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Table Of Contents Preface 1. Related Articles. While I am sympathetic to defining the limits of scientific method, I am suspicious of describing a domain completely outside of, or incompatible with, what is studied by science.

For example, Scruton describes how an objectifying scientific study of humans which might mean an experimental or behavioral study, although Scruton includes Freud , does not take into account the subjective experiences of humans such as their sense of freedom or their intersubjective understanding of each other , which are most distinctive of them.

Along these lines he lists characteristics of human beings that other animals do not share.


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There is a wide body of literature Antonio Damasio and V. Ramachandran come to mind by scientists and philosophers showing the continuity between animal and human development. Anything human, I would guess, appears in some form in animals. While it is useful to define human patterns of thinking and feeling, and to describe them in a theoretical way, it is a mistake in my opinion to make them into a radical difference from animals.

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Scruton takes this discussion into other topics such as God and morality. In discussing God, he examines several historical lines of thought. One example: just as we, as subjects, are detached from objects in the world, and we share our detached subjectivity with each other, so it seems reasonable to think that there is a collective subjectivity actual or theoretical , which sets itself apart from the objective world.

This is one plausible conception of God, which Scruton rejects. After discussing several conceptions, Scruton returns to the idea of the holy or the sacred. This is a common experience of all mankind.

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Philosophy

Who is there that holds nothing holy? As a teenager I read Julian Huxley as an advocate of an atheistic humanism, and he also held onto the idea of the sacred. While Scruton does not defend most theological lines of thought, he does suggest the sacred as a common subjective experience which is lost in a scientific study of the world as objects. Scruton is at his best in talking about sexuality. He says that ever since Freud, we have talked about sex in terms of drives and desires, which have the effect of objectifying people.

He argues that what is distinctive about sexuality is being aware of another person being aware of us. In some of his argument, he follows Sartre. Scruton is at his best in this type of discussion, in which he describes human subjectivity in a theoretical way, without objectifying it.

He goes astray, in my opinion, when he makes this a defining difference between humans and animals. View all 3 comments. Sep 24, Corey rated it really liked it Shelves: Scruton is as winsome as ever, and this is a short read, if not a light one. The chapter on sex alone is worth the price of the book.

For some reason I read this book from Scruton again, despite having previously appraised the book as "Bloviating balderdash mixed with meandering mush. So, was I? Maybe a little.

An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy

This book is fine if you want to get a sprinkling of philosophical views on its topics, but it offers little in way For some reason I read this book from Scruton again, despite having previously appraised the book as "Bloviating balderdash mixed with meandering mush. This book is fine if you want to get a sprinkling of philosophical views on its topics, but it offers little in way of argumentation beyond rewordings and assertions and little in the way of clarity beyond clarifying that Scruton favors certain ideas for reasons he is either unable or unwilling to lucidly express.

Still, I'll bump it up to 2 stars in the spirit of charity, View 2 comments. This is good to read, I'm sure, before starting a philosophy course for the first time I wish I had!

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Sep 21, Geoffrey rated it it was amazing. A philosopher one can actually read, understand, and appreciate.

AN INTELLIGENT PERSON'S GUIDE TO PHILOSOPHY by Roger Scruton | Kirkus Reviews

Fancy that! Jan 26, Michael rated it liked it. Covers a number of philosophical topics at a bit more advanced than introductory level. Jun 03, Ocean Gebhardt added it Shelves: philosophy. I don't think I'm in any position to give this book a rating. It basically reinforced my opinion that philosophy isn't my cup of tea. To be frank much of it didn't seem like philosophy at all.

There is a discussion about how if, say, an apple falls off the branch of a tree on my head and I ask "why? But if you throw an apple on my head and I ask "why?

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I don't remember the exact wording and can't find the page right now. But that's just distinguishing between cause and reason, which to me is just semantics. He goes on to say that it's more than semantics, but to be honest he lost me. The section on music lost me completely. I suspect that, if I want to learn about philosophy, I should probably do so in a classroom setting, so I can interact, ask questions, etc.

Unfortunately I can't do that with a book. Oct 18, Jennifer Kowash rated it it was ok. While I was impressed that the author simplified the concepts so well, I found it took a lot of the meaning away as well. Despite the academic styling of the writing, I found myself feeling rather stupid for having such simplistic concepts explained so thoroughly.

I will also excuse a lot of the annoying name dropping as it does provide a nice launch pad for those that may need it. I honestly don't know how the author makes pages feel like such a chore, but it may just be that I am not the intended audience as I already have an interest in philosophy.


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This book feels like it is written towards those that feel like philosophy is useless and nothing but a waste of time. Though with the title being what it is, I doubt the book's intended audience would ever willingly pick it up. Perhaps I would have rated it higher if it was more properly named. Jun 05, Steve rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosophy , books-of , culture.

Largely a rehash of Modern Philosophy a Survey but with a restricted subject matter, less detail and explanation and ultimately of less use. Dec 16, Muhamed rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosophy. To provide a great overview of many important topics in less than pages and yet not lose depth is an amazing achievement. Loved it. Jan 17, Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing.

I thoroughly enjoyed Scruton's peregrinations through philosophy, at first because his declared purpose was to revive the subject as having merit in dealing with many questions that surface in the course of a day--those pesky Why questions, and secondly, because he is an excellent writer handling difficult topics.

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I plan to explore it in my own reading and writing. Scruton writes clea I thoroughly enjoyed Scruton's peregrinations through philosophy, at first because his declared purpose was to revive the subject as having merit in dealing with many questions that surface in the course of a day--those pesky Why questions, and secondly, because he is an excellent writer handling difficult topics. Scruton writes clearly and lucidly concerning essential topics and he refers to previous philosophers, explicating on their works with apt expression. I trusted him as a tour guide.

Oct 09, Jenn rated it liked it. I didn't read the dust jacket carefully enough when selecting this book. I was hoping for more of a "guide" in terms of a descriptive, brief discussion of the field of philosophy. Instead, this is the author's application of philosophy to common life questions about morality, God, etc.