Date: 29 May 2021

I picked up two books in a book store today. One of them is called The History of Philosophy: Three Millennia of Thought from the West and Beyond, written by A.C. Garyling. Another one is The Book of Why, written by Judea Pearl. In a lazy Saturday afternoon, I read both the preface and introduction of the first book and would like to summarize a bit on what is the book about.

To my limited understandings, Philosophy is about the discussions of method of inquiry (e.g. Books by Plato), ethics (e.g. Justice), and meanings of life and existence of things. Obviously, those are just a small fractions of the field, Philosophy. I think Philosophy is a very interesting subject and also important one because it discusses the most fundamental aspects of humanity and nature.

For a 700 page book, you will not expect it can cover detailed explanations on all areas in Philosophy. As the author points out that the book aims to provide an account of the thinkers and debates constituting Philosophy’s great story.

First, the author explains the meaning of Philosophy in ancient time and modern time. In ancient time, Philosophy means more. It covers “moral philosophy” and “natural philosophy” which today called “science”. And this book will not account for the history of science. For the remaining part, philosophy main includes the following principal areas:

Principal AreaWhat is it about?
EpistemologyEnquiry into the nature of knowledge. Distinctions between knowledge, belief and opinion.
MetaphysicsEnquiry into the nature of reality and existence.
LogicThe science of valid and sound reasoning.
EthicsEnquiry into the concepts and theories of what is good, of right and wrong.
AestheticsEnquiry into art and beauty.
Philosophy of mindEnquiry into the nature of mental phenomena and consciousness.
Philosophy of languageEnquiry into how we attach meaning to sounds and marks in a way that enable communication and embodies thought.
Political philosophyEnquiry into the principles of social and political organization and their justification.
History of philosophyStudy of the history of philosophy
Philosophical examination of the assumptions, methods and claims of other fields of enquiryAs the name suggested

After looking at the content page, the book is more or less organized in a time-series manner. Part 1: Ancient Philosophy. Part 2:Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy. Part 3: Modern Philosophy. Part 4: Philosophy in the Twentieth Century. Part 5: Indian, Chinese, Arabic-Persian and African Philosophy.

The author also points out his limitations on non-western philosophy. It kind of reflects on the organization of the book in which non-western philosophy is discussed in part 5.

I am looking forward to reading this book so that I can have a general understandings on the different areas of Philosophy.

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