Preface to the Second Edition (Full Text)
- Those who approach philosophy for the first time do so from a variety of motives. Some are drawn into philosophy from their interest in the sciences, some from the arts, some from religion; others come to philosophy without any academic background, motivated by an uneasiness about "the meaning of things" or "what the world is all about"; still others have no motivation more specific than that of wanting to know what people are talking about when they use the word "philosophy." Accordingly, the demands that different people make of philosophy and the questions that they expect it to answer are as diverse as the motives leading them to it; as a result, the books that are written to satisfy these demands are similarly diverse. Often two books professing to introduce readers to philosophy contain little or none of the same material. For these reasons it is impossible to write a book that will satisfy all or perhaps even a majority of readers.
- One might try to overcome this difficulty by writing a book so comprehensive that all the problems that anyone considered philosophical would be treated in it, and the readers would have only to select portions in which they are most interested. This, however, is hardly possible in practice: a book of a thousand pages would not begin to suffice. Nor would it be feasible to devote just a few pages to each problem: this would leave only outline summaries of the various issues, which would mean little to the readers; they might learn the meanings of some terms and absorb a few "general trends" from such a presentation, but they would not have been given enough material to make the problem come alive for them. The capsule method is even less successful in philosophy than it is elsewhere. The only apparent solution, then, would be to include not all but only some of the issues in the field. This method has its drawbacks, however, for no matter which problems are included and which are excluded, many readers are bound to object both to some of the inclusions and to some of the exclusions. Yet this is the policy that has been followed in this book, as the one with the fewest all-round disadvantages.
- This edition has been almost completely rewritten; very few pages of the first edition, written thirteen years ago, survive in the present one. Except for the title and the main structural outline of contents, it is virtually a new book. All the sections have been radically changed, and new sections have been added: on concepts, sources of knowledge, the problem of universals1, and various other issues. The chapter on aesthetics has been omitted entirely, though with regret, since this topic is not usually treated in introductory courses, and the space has been used to make possible a fuller treatment of metaphysical and epistemological problems.
- … [snip … acknowledgements]
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