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Western Philosophy


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Table of Contents



Advice to Readers and Format of the Volume.

Part I: Knowledge and Certainty:.

1. Innate Knowledge: Plato, Meno.

2. Knowledge versus Opinion: Plato, Republic.

3. Demonstrative Knowledge and its Starting-points: Aristotle, Posterior Analytics.

4. New Foundations for Knowledge: Rene Descartes, Meditations.

5. The Senses as the Basis of Knowledge: John Locke, Essay concerning Human Understanding.

6. Innate Knowledge Defended: Gottfried Leibniz, New Essays on Human Understanding.

7. Scepticism versus Human Nature: David Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Understanding.

8. Experience and Understanding: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason.

9. From Sense-certainty to Self-consciousness:Georg Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit.

10. Against Scepticism: G. E. Moore, A Defence of Common Sense.

11. Does Empirical Knowledge Have a Foundation?: Wilfrid Sellars, The Myth of the Given.

12. The Conditions for Knowledge: Edmund Gettier, Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?.


Part II: Being and Reality:.

1. The Allegory of the Cave: Plato, Republic.

2. Individual Substance: Aristotle, Categories.

3. Supreme Being and Created Things: Rene Descartes, Principles of Philosophy.

4. Qualities and Ideas: John Locke, Essay concerning Human Understanding.

5. Substance, Life and Activity: Gottfried Leibniz, New System.

6. Nothing Outside the Mind: George Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge.

7. The Limits of Metaphysical Speculation: David Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Understanding.

8. Metaphysics, Old and New: Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena.

9. Being and Involvement: Martin Heidegger, Being and Time.

10. The End of Metaphysics?: Rudolf Carnap, The Elimination of Metaphysics.

11. The Problem of Ontology: W. V. O. Quine, On What There Is.

12. Why is There Anything?: Derek Parfit, The Puzzle of Reality.

Part III: Language and Meaning:.

1. The Meaning of Words: Plato, Cratylus.

2. Language and its Acquisition: Augustine, Confessions.

3. Thought, Language and its Components: William of Ockham, Writings on Logic.

4. Language, Reason and Animal Utterance: Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method.

5. Abstract General Ideas: John Locke, Essay concerning Human Understanding.

6. Particular Ideas and General Meaning: George Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge.

7. Denotation versus Connotation: John Stuart Mill, A System of Logic.

8. Names and their Meaning: Gottlob Frege, Sense and Reference.

9. Definite and Indefinite Descriptions: Bertrand Russell, Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.

10. Non-descriptive Uses of Language: J. L. Austin, Performative Utterances.

11. Language, Meaning and Context: Paul Grice, Logic and Conversation.

12. How the Reference of Terms is Fixed: Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity.

Part IV: Mind and Body:.

1. The Immortal Soul Plato, Phaedo.

2. Soul and Body, Form and Matter Aristotle, De Anima.

3. The Human Soul Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae.

4. The Incorporeal Mind: Rene Descartes, Meditations.

5. The Identity of Mind and Body: Benedict Spinoza, Ethics.

6. Mind-Body Correlations: Nicolas Malebranche, Dialogues on Metaphysics.

7. Body and Mind as Manifestations of Will:.

Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea.

8. The Problem of Other Minds.

John Stuart Mill, An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy.

9. The Hallmarks of Mental Phenomena.

Franz Brentano, Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint.

10. The Myth of the 'Ghost in the Machine'.

Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind.

11. Mental States as Functional States.

Hilary Putnam, Psychological Predicates.

12. The Subjective Dimension of Consciousness: Thomas Nagel, What is it Like to be a Bat?.

Part V: The Self and Freedom:.

(a) The Self.

1. The Self and Consciousness: John Locke, Essay concerning Human Understanding.

2. The Self as Primitive Concept: Joseph Butler, Of Personal Identity.

3. The Self as Bundle: David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature.

4. The Partly Hidden Self: Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis.

5. Liberation from the Self: Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons.

6. Selfhood and Narrative Understanding: Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self.

(b) Freedom.

7. Human Freedom and Divine Providence: Augustine, The City of God.

8. Freedom to Do What We Want: Thomas Hobbes, Liberty, Necessity and Chance.

9. Absolute Determinism: Pierre Simon de Laplace, Philosophical Essay on Probability.

10. Condemned to be Free: Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness.

11. Determinism and our Attitudes to Others: Peter Strawson, Freedom and Resentment.

12. Freedom, Responsibility and the Ability to do Otherwise.

Harry G. Frankfurt, Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.

Part VI: God and Religion:.

1. The Existence of God: Anselm of Canterbury, Proslogion.

2. The Five Proofs of God: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae.

3. God and the Idea of Perfection: Rene Descartes, Meditations.

4. The Wager: Blaise Pascal, Pensees.

5. The Problem of Evil: Gottfried Leibniz, Theodicy.

6. The Argument from Design: David Hume, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion.

7. Against Miracles: David Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Understanding.

8. Faith and Subjectivity: Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript.

9. Reason, Passion and the Religious Hypothesis: William James, The Will to Believe.

10. The Meaning of Religious Language: John Wisdom, Gods.

11. God's Commands as the Foundation for Morality:.

Robert M. Adams, Moral Arguments for Theistic Belief.

12. Against Evidentialism: Alvin Plantinga, Is Belief in God Properly Basic?.

Part VII: Science and Method:.

1. Four Types of Explanation: Aristotle, Physics.

2. Experimental Methods and True Causes: Francis Bacon, Novum Organum.

3. Mathematical Science and the Control of Nature: Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method.

4. The Limits of Scientific Explanation: George Berkeley, On Motion.

5. The Problem of Induction: David Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Understanding.

6. The Relation between Cause and Effect: David Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Understanding.

7. Causality and our Experience of Events: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason.

8. The Uniformity of Nature: John Stuart Mill, System of Logic.

9. Science and Falsifiability: Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations.

10. How Explaining Works: Carl G. Hempel, Explanation in Science and History.

11. Scientific Realism versus Instrumentalism:.

Grover Maxwell, The Ontological Status of Theoretical Entities.

12. Change and Crisis in Science: Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Part VIII: Morality and the Good Life:.

1. Morality and Happiness: Plato, Republic.

2. Ethical Virtue: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.

3. Virtue, Reason and the Passions: Benedict Spinoza, Ethics.

4. Human Feeling as the Source of Ethics:.

David Hume, Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals.

5. Duty and Reason as the Ultimate Principle.

Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals.

6. Happiness as the Foundation of Morality: John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism.

7. Utility and Common-sense Morality: Henry Sidgwick, Methods of Ethics.

8. Against Conventional Morality: Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.

9. Duty and Intuition: W. D. Ross, The Right and the Good.

10. Rational Choice and Fairness: John Rawls, A Theory of Justice.

11. Ethics as Rooted in History and Culture: Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue.

12. Could Ethics be Objective?: Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.

Part IX: Problems in Ethics:.

1. Inequality, Freedom and Slavery: Aristotle, Politics.

2. War and Justice: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae.

3. Taking One's Own Life: David Hume, On Suicide.

4. Gender, Liberty and Equality: Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women.

5. Partiality and Favouritism: William Godwin, Enquiry concerning Political Justice.

6. The Status of Non-human Animals: Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Ethics.

7. The Purpose of Punishment: Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation.

8. Our Relationship to the Environment: Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic.

9. Abortion and Rights: Judith Jarvis Thomson, A Defense of Abortion.

10. The Relief of Global Suffering: Peter Singer, Famine, Affluence and Morality.

11. Medical Ethics and the Termination of Life: James Rachels, Active and Passive Euthanasia.

12. Cloning, Sexual Reproduction and Genetic Engineering: Leon R. Kass, The Wisdom of Repugnance.

Part X: Authority and the State:.

1. Our Obligation to Respect the Laws of the State: Plato, Crito.

2. The Just Ruler: Thomas Aquinas, On Princely Government.

3. Sovereignty and Security: Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan.

4. Consent and Political Obligation: John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government.

5. Against Contractarianism: David Hume, Of the Original Contract.

6. Society and the Individual: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract.

7. The Unified State - from Individual Desire to Rational Self-determination.

Georg Hegel, The Philosophy of Right.

8. Property, Labour and Alienation: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology.

9. The Limits of Majority Rule: John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.

10. The Minimal State: Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia.

11. Social Co-operation and Rational Self-interest: David Gauthier, Why Contractarianism?.

12. Liberalism, Resources and Equal Worth: Ronald Dworkin, Why Liberals Should Care about Equality.

Part XI: Beauty and Art:.

1. Art and Imitation: Plato, Republic.

2. The Nature and Function of Dramatic Art: Aristotle, Poetics.

3. The Idea of Beauty: Francis Hutcheson, Inquiry concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design.

4. Aesthetic Appreciation: David Hume, Of the Standard of Taste.

5. The Concept of the Beautiful: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement.

6. The Metaphysics of Beauty: Arthur Schopenhauer, On Aesthetics.

7. The Two Faces of Art: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy.

8. The Value of Art: Leo Tolstoy, What is Art?.

9. Imagination and Art: Jean-Paul Sartre, The Psychology of Imagination.

10. What is Aesthetics?: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lectures on Aesthetics.

11. The Basis of Judgements of Taste: Frank Sibley, Aesthetic Concepts.

12. Artistic Representation and Reality: Nelson Goodman, The Languages of Art.

Part XII: Human Life and its Meaning:.

1. How to Accept Reality and Avoid Fear: Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe.

2. Life Guided by Stoic Philosophy: Seneca, Moral Letters.

3. Meaning Through Service to Others: Augustine, Confessions.

4. Contentment with the Human Lot: Michel de Montaigne, On Experience.

5. The Human Condition, Wretched yet Redeemable: Blaise Pascal, Pensees.

6. Human Life as a Meaningless Struggle: Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Vanity of Existence.

7. The Death of God and the Ascendancy of the Will: Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra.

8. Idealism in a Godless Universe: Bertrand Russell, A Free Man's Worship.

9. Futility and Defiance: Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus.

10. Involvement versus Detachment: Thomas Nagel, The Absurd.

11. Religious Belief as Necessary for Meaning: William Lane Craig, The Absurdity of Life without God.

12. Seeing our Lives as Part of the Process: Robert Nozick, Philosophy's Life.

Notes on the Philosophers.


About the Author

John Cottingham is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading. He is the author of many books including Rationalism (1984), Descartes (1986), The Rationalists (1988), Philosophy and the Good Life (1998), and On the Meaning of Life (2003), and is co-translator of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. He was from 1991-5 Chairman of the British Society for the History of Philosophy, and is (since 1993) editor of Ratio, the international journal of analytic philosophy.


"Cottingham does a good job." (Times Higher Education Supplement)

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