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Philosophy: The Basics

(The Basics)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,115 ratings  ·  258 reviews
Now in its fourth edition, Nigel Warburton's best-selling book gently eases the reader into the world of philosophy. Each chapter considers a key area of philosophy, explaining and exploring the basic ideas and themes.

What is philosophy? Can you prove God exists? Is there an afterlife? How do we know right from wrong? Should you ever break the law? Is the world really the
Paperback, 169 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Routledge (first published 1995)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Philosophy: The Basics, Nigel Warburton

Nigel Warburton's book gently eases the reader into the world of philosophy. Each chapter considers a key area of philosophy, explaining and exploring the basic ideas and themes.

What is philosophy?
Can you prove God exists?
Is there an afterlife?
How do we know right from wrong?
Should you ever break the law?
Is the world really the way you think it is?
How should we define Freedom of Speech?
Do you know how science works?
Is your mind different from your
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent insight and analysis to some key philosophical ideas and viewpoints, all broken down into easy-to-manage sections and sub-sections.
Katia N
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short book is very easy but entertaining read, and it is quite helpful in its own way. It introduces the readers to the range of questions subject to philosophic enquiry. The limitations are that is focused on anglo-american tradition and it does not consider logic. Good point to start in terms of the scope of the discipline; but not in terms of the history of philosophy or comparative views from around the globe (even France is not represented bar Descartes).
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
On an irrelevant note, I think that books like this should be titled 'western philosophy', not only philosophy. Presupposing the whole philosophical thought as only of a western nature is a serious error, from which the West has not still freed itself. ...more
Ivan Vuković
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
This is an ideal introduction to philosophy!
Instead of approaching the subject from a historical perspective, the author presents philosophy by examining some of the most important philosophical questions and thereby introducing the branches of study associated with them.

The style is incredibly light and concise, which almost makes it an easy read. There is also no patronising and snobbish use of obscure language, which I appreciate a lot. It doesn't surprise me, since the author stresses the i
Mad Stork
May 03, 2013 rated it liked it

The book is divided in seven parts, each one dedicated to a particular philosophical discipline - the first chapter is about philosophy of religion, the second one is about ethics, the third one is about political philosophy, the fourth is about epistemology, the fifth is about the philosophy of science, the sixth is about the philosophy of mind and the seventh is about aesthetics.
In each chapter, Warburton outlines some of the main philosophical questions pertaining to the disciplines, and expl
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Brief but to the point and interesting.
Sep 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015, unfinished
Maybe I'm being over-critical and it deserves 2 stars, but the truth is that I don't even think I'm going to read it further. I find the writing too crude and superficial, even to the point of being misleading. Another weakness of this book is the choice of arguments/subjects discussed. I understand that it is supposed to be a short introduction to a very vast subject, therefore some hard choices have naturally been made, but then why include minor ideas/arguments while leaving out much more imp ...more
Jul 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charged with translating some Plato in my last year as an undergraduate, I need a refresher on all the philosophy I learnt in my first year, and Nigel Warburton's PHILOSOPHY: The Basics served me fairly well.

The introduction of the work discusses very general themes such as the history of philosophy, its purpose, its difficulty (or lack thereof), and its limits. The core of the book, however, is formed by seven chapters each dealing with a specific facet of theology: God, Right and Wrong, Politi
Italo  Perazzoli
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Chapters are: -God - Right and Wrong - Animal - Politics - Appearance and Reality - Science - Mind and Art.

This book is well written and sliding but not superficial.

I tried to read philosophical books all of them were boring because concentrated around the history of philosophy fundamental but I was looking for something of different a book concentrated around the philosophical concepts.

A revelation was this book written by Nigel Warburton, he tells us philosophical problems like the existen
Walter Schutjens
A very wholesome book, Nigel Warburton you’re patient, wise, and clear freind takes you on a basic philsophy trip. I would rwcommend this book to anyone getting into philosophy, or would like a general outlook on a range of branches. I have no quarrels with this book, it helped me reinforce some basic philosophical ideas that I had skimmed over before. The 4 stars are more because... can you really give 5 stars to a book teaching you basics? I need to keep those standards high.

But in any case a
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book explains the basics in a way that anyone can understand it. very nice, concise and to the point. Again I doubt 4 stars are enough but maybe it's because some points simply needed more explanations and I felt as if the writer went too far in trying to make it as short as possible, though I read the Persian translation of it. ...more
Ege Özmeral
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am not a philosopher by any stretch, rather I am a mathematician. I do however enjoy reading about philosophy in a leisurely manner, as it is a good source of food for thought. If you are in a similar position to me where you are considering venturing down the philosophical (and proverbial) rabbit hole, then this book is a good place to start.

I planned to use Philosophy: The Basics as a foundation for more advanced philosophical texts; I don't think it is unreasonable to claim that the greate
Melchior  Raywood
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Warburton provides a coherent and digestible introduction to the study of philosophy, with the book's chapters focusing on a variety of topics of the discipline that can be applied from day-to-day to uncommon experiences, including arguments on religion, ethics, politics, and reality. Furthermore, the addition of 'further readings' sections allows the reader to expand his or her knowledge of a particular philosophical subject, making it a highly commendable foundation to have for any beginner to ...more
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5outof5
This book is a great survey of western philosophy. Warburton chooses eight topics and introduces a handful of major ideas within each topic ranging from ideas merely relevant to the historical development of the field, up to contemporary ideas. Every topic is explained briefly and then its possible failings and shortcomings are pointed out. Each chapter ends with a list of further reading.

The descriptions of the various theories were terse but not dense and examples were plentiful. I found it ve
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a short, categorical introduction to the various branches of philosophy. It better serves those newly introduced to philosophy to begin by making connections with common questions that everyone asks: what is art; where does free speech come from.

I must admit I would have understood more of the concepts proposed if I had been reading at my normal rate (I am taking a speed reading and reading comprehension course).

The benefit for the average Joe to reading this book is that one is ab
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a decent, well-written, and very accessible topical introduction to philosophy, presenting condensed arguments and counterarguments for many important positions. Deals with God, ethics, politics, epistemology, science, mind and aesthetics. It’s very concise and uses almost no technical language, explaining it when used. This description implies it can’t amount to much, but Warburton gets a lot of substance into such a small and simple package.

It’s a good companion to other introductory a
Satyaki Mitra
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book serves as an excellent intorductory text, outlining the major concepts of philosophy. Each chapter explores a different philosophical concept highlighting arguments in favour of and critisim levelled against these concepts, and although the author doesn't go much deep into details, there is a reference section(Further Reading section) at the end of each chapter, where the author has provided the names of important philosophical works, which readers can refer to, in order to expand thei ...more
Daniel Njoo
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great introductory book to the often intimidating field of philosophy. Warburton does the improbable by making the subject interesting and approachable with tonnes of great analogies and discussion led in a matter-of-a-fact tone with little subjective interpretation or spin-- he lets you decide the answer.

My biggest problem with this book was with the formatting, which could at times get confusing. Counter-arguments were sub-headed under the main argument, but these counter-arguments sometimes h
Michael Moseley
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A really good introduction into philosophy which has made me put atlas one new book on my to read list. Gives a whistle stop tour of some of the import questions and debate in philosophy The chapter headings of God, Right & Wrong, Politics, the External World, science, Mind & Art covers so much of the human condition. Nigel Warbuton manages to make this difficult subject quite accessible. Well worth a read and to keep on the shelf for reference.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
A clear, concise introduction that manages to pack its pages with interesting, relevant material. Warburton briefly covers arguments, counter-arguments, and possible responses to them, briefly but clearly. The book also seemed relatively unbiased towards particular philosophies, providing explanations of the pros and cons of each one covered.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good primer, still useful for reference for basic arguments and principles. It is also clear which philosophers should be consulted for further reading and insight. Only criticism would be a lack of information on logic and epistemology, brief introductions to these topics would suffice, as they are of course broad.
Jun 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Some of the arguments are reasonable and might open new scopes for thinking. Some of them are plain stupid. I can't believe that some philosophers actually thought of putting them forth. What's more surprising is that they are published. Overall it's not a bad read but at the same time it isn't exciting enough to keep you turning pages. ...more
Tan Jing
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read the 5th edition! This books resembles a textbook. It is definitely much easier to understand compared to others. However, I didn't understand some parts:

Meta-ethics naturalism
Appearance & reality : representative realism, idealism, phenomalism
Mind/ body problem

Now I shall proceed to finding out abt them, then read my Chinese book.
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Amazing - You would definitely learn something from it"

This is an amazing introduction to Philosophy. Nigel Warburton has laid out the major topics/ideas in philosophy in such plain layman terms that renders it interesting and welcoming. If you ever wonder what philosophy is about, I would say this book is your must introductory book. Love it.
Thanh Tùng
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable and short introduction book for someone unfamiliar with philosophy. I especially enjoy the chapters about god's existence, morality, science and art. Though the book is quite short, the reading list provided seems interesting and extensive enough if someone is interested in learning a particular topic. ...more
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good introduction. Even includes an attempt to answer What is a work of art?
Dismisses arguments for God too readily, though. Recommended
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book which clearly explains philosophical theories and the arguments against them in an unstuffy way; would recommend to all.
David F.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
An excellent readable introduction to the main topics within philosophy and to some of the major theories on those topics.
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Nigel Warburton is Senior Lecturer at the Open University and author of a number of popular books about philosophy.

Warburton received a BA from the University of Bristol and a PhD from Darwin College, Cambridge and was a lecturer at the University of Nottingham before joining the Department of Philosophy at the Open University in 1994.

He runs a popular philosophy weblog Virtual Philosopher and wit

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