Why We Think the Things We Think by Alain Stephen

Subtitled Philosophy in a Nutshell this is a concise gallop through some key philosophical concepts. Each chapter takes a question such as “Is there a difference between living and being alive?”, ” If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” and “Is the glass half full or half empty?” and explores each question briefly and succinctly with reference to the writings of prominent philosophers, comparing and contrasting a range of approaches and tracking the development of ideas from Ancient Greece to the 20th century.

I certainly found the content extremely thought-provoking (which of course you would expect). I feel Alain Stephen has managed to draw the right balance between mind stretching philosophical challenges and the practical details and backgrounds of the great thinkers throughout history. He uses some fascinating examples to illustrate the points made and certainly stimulates the appetite for further reading.

I am a relative novice in the basic principles of Philosophy (although I have had a longstanding fascination with the subject) but certainly found the contents of this book clear and easy to follow. I am not sure how someone who has a more extensive knowledge would rate the work but it can never be a bad thing to go back to basics occasionally and some of the questions raised at the beginning of each chapter I would have thought were as relevant for the experienced philosopher as they are for the beginner.

Not only is this a stimulating personal read but I can definitely see the conundrums posed giving rise to keen debates in any reading group. I have no hesitation in recommending Why We Think the Things We Think as a lively, informative and intriguing book which certainly challenges those grey cells!

Kathy Jesson

Personal 4

Group 4

Why We Think the Things We Think by Alain Stephen

978-1-78243-413-9|Michael O’Mara Books

hbk Oct 8, 2015

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