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What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  1,334 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
Should the hard questions of philosophy matter to ordinary people? In this down-to-earth, nonhistorical guide, Thomas Nagel, the distinguished author of Mortal Questions and The View From Nowhere, brings philosophical problems to life, revealing in vivid, accessible prose why they have continued to fascinate and baffle thinkers across the centuries. Arguing that the best w ...more
Published October 15th 1987 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Riku Sayuj
May 05, 2014 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The Basic Questions of Philosophy

Nagel presents this book as a direct introduction to a selection of nine philosophical problems which the reflective human mind finds naturally puzzling, each of which can be understood in itself, without reference to the history of thought — so Nagel opts to omit discussion on the great philosophical writings of the past or the cultural background of those writings and approach them as questions that should be tackled on their own rights. For the best way to b
Jan Rice
Jul 26, 2013 Jan Rice rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I read this book because I was having some difficulty with Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False and because it, unlike Mind and Cosmos, was available in the library and was the hard copy, not the e-reader. What Does It All Mean is short, as promised and, as the author says, probably capable of being read by an intelligent person of high school age. It consists of ten chapters; the first is the introduction, so that leaves nine, one eac ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
What does it all mean? : a very short introduction to philosophy, Thomas Nagel
عنوان: اینها همه یعنی چه؟؛ نویسنده: توماس (تامس) نیگل (ناگل)؛ مترجم: جواد حیدری؛ تهران، نگاه معاصر؛ 1392؛ در 90 ص؛ شابک: 9786005747720؛ عنوان دیگر: در پی معنا؛ موضوع: مقدمات فلسفه؛ قرن 20 م
عنوان: در پی معنا؛ نویسنده: توماس (تامس) نیگل (ناگل)؛ مترجم: محمد ناجی؛ تهران، هرمس؛ 1381؛ در 360 ص؛ شابک: 9643631524؛ موضوع: مقدمات فلسفه؛ قرن 20 م
عنوان: در پی معنا؛ نویسنده: توماس (تامس) نیگل (ناگل)؛ مترجم: سعید ناجی؛ مهدی معین زاد
Jul 15, 2015 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: فلسفه
نیگل فیلسوفی تحلیلی بسیار مشهور این کتاب را در حدی ساده و روان نوشته که برای دبیرستانی ها هم قابل فهم است. البته با توجه به فهرست کتاب میبینید که مسایلی عمیق را مطرح کرده که عمرشان به درازای تاریخ خرد آدمیست. بنده ترجمه دکتر جواد حیدری و متن اصلی کتاب را خواندم و بسی کیفور گشتم
Jul 26, 2013 Dennis rated it liked it
In this short book, Thomas Nagel asks a lot of questions. How do we know that anything exists outside of ourselves? If we think that there is a world outside of ourselves, how do we know there are other minds like ours? How do we know if other people's experiences are like our experiences? How are minds possible if we are composed of mindless particles? Is the mind separate from the body? Is there a soul? How do words have meaning? Do we have free will? How do we know right from wrong? Is there ...more
Kali Srikanth
60 pages or 600 pages, if a book can tell me a story I never heard, introduce me interesting characters, tell me things I never heard of and what not influence the way I look at things and life at large, I would consider it a fair read. One such short but influential book is this Short Introduction to philosophy.

Like Author says book will reflect his own view of few philosophical problems and will not necessarily represent what most philosophers think. There probably isn't anything that most ph
Sheyda Heydari Shovir
در پی معنا همونطور که خودش میگه بیشتر میخواد یک سری سوالها رو مطرح کنه که آدم موقع خوندن آثار فلاسفه فقط یک سری جواب نبینه و بدونی حرفهارو برای چی میزنند. البته درین کار موفقه و یک سری سوال مطرح میکنه ولی کلا خیلی چیز قابل توجهی نیست و حتی سوال قابل توجهی هم مطرح نمیشه و بخوام درست توصیف کنم میتونم بگم خالی از لطفه.
اما کوتاهه و شاید برای یک نوجوان که کلا بخواد بدونه چند تا از دغدغهای فلسفه عبارت از چیاند خوب باشه.
St Fu
Jan 07, 2015 St Fu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You want I should tell you what it all means, now that I finished the book? So, if I did, you could then say, "That's it? Why should I care?" Or "What does it mean that that's what it all means?" In other words, a meaning found in a book is just a meaning found in a book. That's not a fault of the book, though. Nagel gives this very argument.

I'll admit I went into this less naive than the intended audience. It was written for people who never asked these questions in the first place. I couldn't
Apr 19, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
An excellent little book introducing nine major philosophical questions, including the mind-body problem, free will and death. Nagel focuses on clarifying the questions, without muddying the discourse. Periodically he gives his own opinion to the question at hand, but not without urging the reader to come to their own conclusions. He doesn't waste any space bringing in historical references, or citing other philosophers. This book is all about bringing the questions themselves to light. I found ...more
Amir Mojiry
این کتاب تو نمایشگاه کتاب امسال به چشمم اومد و چون ارزون بود و به نظر خوب میومد خریدمش.
برای یه مرور کوچیک و سریع روی مفاهیم فلسفی - سوالات اصلی فلسفی که تو ذهن اکثر افراد هست- کتاب خوبیه. البته نویسنده با این که گفته نمی خوام جواب بدم خیلی جاها نظر شخصی خودش رو مطرح کرده و یا تاکید داشته روی بخش هایی که نظر شخصی خودش بوده. مثلن تو بخش "عدالت" بیش تر از این که به عدالت کلی و سوالاتی مثل این که "چرا فلان بچه باید معلول به دنیا بیاد؟" پرداخته به مسائل مالیات و حکومت و این ها. این البته عیب نیست و ن
Robert C.
Nov 18, 2012 Robert C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The kind of book I want to, and should read over and over every day to remind myself that the inexplicable is not only present in my life, but that it is not as inexplicable as I thought it was and further, that it doesn't really matter (or did I get that from another book?). Hmm.
Laura Leaney
Jul 26, 2014 Laura Leaney rated it liked it
Short, succinct, and too basic for my ancient years. This would be a great book with which to begin the study of philosophy and might be of value to an intelligent curious teenager - one who values the questions more than the answers.
Ege Özmeral
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Perry Clark
Mar 31, 2013 Perry Clark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Reminded by a friend of Thomas Nagel's work (in reference to his more recent Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, in which he takes on his hard-core materialist colleagues), I thought I'd revisit this, his "very short introduction to philosophy". The book, only about 100 pages, presents brief, cogent, readable explorations of nine of the basic questions with which philosophers wrestle, including justice, the meaning of life, death, ri ...more
Jun 02, 2016 Safat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is meant to be an introduction to philosophy for non-specialists. Generally this type books are fully loaded with history of philosophical thoughts and reflecting on how philosophy evolved over time. I like Nagel's different approach here. He refers to no philosopher and history of philosophical thought, but addresses 10 basic questions of philosophy, which can be discussed in themselves. These include how we know anything, free will, death, justice, mind-body etc. All in all a very re ...more
May 07, 2015 Christiaan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant introduction to philosophy. Nagel is a star in asking the right questions and let's the reader think about the big philosophical problems and issues. He challenges the reader to think about these issues and the world around them. Great and easy to read.
Eric Kalnins
Jan 18, 2016 Eric Kalnins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A most enjoyable brief read ... that opens up much thought within yourself and with others.
Written in a way that is comprehensible to most, if not all, people, many of the big questions are tantalisingly explored and new vistas potentially opened.
Highly recommended.

Kiehl Christie
Oct 09, 2009 Kiehl Christie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used this book to introduce students to philosophy.

It is exactly what it says it is: a very short introduction. It does a great job framing the intuition and basics of a number of the more pervasive and persistent problems in philosophy without getting bogged down in names or overly heavy terms.

Nagel also does a good job of giving a fair assessment of a number of views that are not his own (with the exception of solipsism - but who cares about that).

My students enjoyed it and it did an exce
Nazi la
Sep 30, 2016 Nazi la rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
در پی معنا از این جهت کتاب مفیدیه که به سوالات اساسی زندگی که گاهی مبهمند یک چارچوب کلی میده و بنابراین آدم رو به فکر کردن و اندیشیدن دربارهی این سوالات وامیداره. کتاب خیلی ساده و روونیه. خوندنش خالی از لطف و فایده نیست. ...more
This is strongly recommended for adolescents around the age of 13 when they begin to think of themselves and the world around them, rather than accepting everything that is in place. Interestingly, the preface presupposes that the reader is an undergraduate student or high school graduate. Perhaps times have changed in the level of education since the late 1980s.

It is a good introduction to thinking, not so much to academic philosophy, as it does not arm the reader with the necessary vocabulary
Nick Anderson
Feb 17, 2015 Nick Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after several years of studying philosophy, so Nagel's book isn't quite made for me. What he offers is a very good introduction of what philosophy is today. The issues discussed, which make up each of the chapters are those which science and mathematics are not able to tackle: philosophy of mind, epistemology, language, free will. Ethics, Justice, and the meaning of life. And for the undergrad or high school student this is what philosophy as a separate field focuses on, the general ...more
Aug 16, 2014 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A "very short introduction" indeed, but, as usual, Thomas Nagel's writing is lucid and accessible, even for those with no familiarity with philosophy (the target audience of this text). Nagel discusses some of the most fundamental questions in philosophy**—and does so without reference to the history of philosophy or the detailed answers that historical and contemporary philosophers have given about these questions (though, of course, for each issue, he offers a broad overview of the kinds of an ...more
Apr 28, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting introduction into the subject of philosophy.

For someone who went to a standard (meaning awful) state school in the UK and where the critically important subject of philosophy never came up during my entire education, this was a very useful introduction to some of the key points and opposing viewpoints, covering; ethics, the meaning of life, justice, what happens when you die, whether we really exist or is the entire universe just our own imagination...

I liked the autho
Paula Dembeck
I have never studied philosophy or the work of philosophers but I am interested in philosophical questions. This is a helpful little book (about 100 pages) that simply and clearly gives you the information you need to begin looking at some of the basic questions life poses. Nagel uses the opposite approach of most books which is to begin with a history of philosophy and then proceed to present the reader with the great philosophers and their writings. Instead, he presents a text that supports hi ...more
Michel Balzer
Sep 12, 2016 Michel Balzer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Im zarten Teenager-Alter mein erster und seltener Einblick ins philosophische.

Seit dem denke ich doch öfter, ob das alles um mich herum passiert und alles nicht so super wichtig ist.
Aug 24, 2016 Victor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A breezy introduction to some of the more pertinent philosophical questions. Serviceable, but not written in an entirely compelling way. Nagel makes a point of not really talking about philosophers or various ways of thinking, which kind of took some of the meat out of it for me. I really like thinking of the context of some of the questions posed in What Does it All Mean.

Ultimately, philosophy is more about the questions than the answers, and Nagel does go through a lot of questions. What's th
Mehwish Mughal
Nov 24, 2015 Mehwish Mughal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A crashcourse in raw philosophy

The author selects 9 philosophical problems out of a sea of them and sets out to answer reflect on them using his own views.

1) Knowledge of the world beyond our minds
2) Knowledge of minds other than our own
3) The relation between mind and brain
4) How language is possible
5) Whether we have free will
6) The basis of morality
7) What inequalities are unjust
8) The nature of death
9) The meaning of life

Bang! Bang! Bang! and the next chapter!
He dives straight into th
Steven Zoeller
The book certainly lives up to its subtitle, but its being Very Short might be just as much a detriment as it is a merit. On one hand, its short length makes it accessible and easy to read in short bursts. But philosophy is a complicated field, and quite a bit could have been written to introduce any of the items on Nagel's laundry list of philosophical issues. Most chapters simply end with a shrug without any suggested further reading on the subject, and as a result of their shortness, some imp ...more
Mar 08, 2016 Jonas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eine wundervolle Einführung in die Welt der Philosophie, die zum weiteren denken und staunen einlädt.
Jun 23, 2015 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب را با ترجمه دکتر جواد حیدری خواندم و قسمت زیادی از کتاب را مقابله با متن اصلی کردم.بسیار ترجمه عالیست.فکر کنم عظمت نیگل در جهان بر هیچکس پوشیده نباشد.در ایران هم به همت دکتر حیدری و توصیه مصطفی ملکیان کتب نیگل یکی پس از دیگری به دست ترجمه سپرده شده
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Thomas Nagel is an American philosopher, currently University Professor and Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, where he has taught since 1980. His main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics. He is well-known for his critique of reductionist accounts of the mind in his essay "What Is it Like to Be a Bat?" (1974), and for his con ...more
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“Even if life as a whole is meaningless, perhaps that's nothing to worry about. Perhaps we can recognise it and just go on as before.” 4 likes
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