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Reading Philosophy

1nagel

This year I have branched out of my comfort zone and read more nonfiction. I select a boor or two from history, religion, linguistics, and current affairs. Philosophy is one subject matter that I’m most hesitant about, partly because it’s very abstract. A little research leads me to Professor Thomas Nagel’s book, an introductory treatise for anyone who has not a clue in the field.

What Does It All Mean? is a really accessible introduction to philosophy and it captures much of what drew me to philosophy in the first place. The book focuses on some of the philosophical problems that, as Nagel notes, “reflective human minds find naturally puzzling.” Nagel discusses nine philosophical issues, including whether we can know anything, the mind-body problem, free will, the nature of justice, ethics, and the nature of death. What I like most about Nagel’s approach is that you don’t have to know anything at all about philosophy to understand and appreciate the puzzling nature of the problems he presents.

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