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The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy, 8th Edition
Tracing the exchange of ideas among history’s key philosophers, The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy, Eighth Edition, provides a generous selection of excerpts from major philosophical works and makes them more easily understandable to students with lucid and engaging explanations. Extensive cross-referencing shows students how philosophers respond appreciatively or critically to the thoughts of other philosophers.
The Great Conversation, Eighth Edition, is also available in two separate volumes to suit your course needs:
The Great Conversation: Volume I: Pre-Socratics through Descartes, Eighth Edition
The Great Conversation: Volume II: Descartes through Derrida and Quine, Eighth Edition
A WORD TO INSTRUCTORS
Philosophy is both argument and innovation. We try in this introductory text to provide students with excellent examples of both in the ongoing story of a basic part of our intellectual
life. We aim to teach students how to think by apprenticing them to a succession of the best thinkers humanity has produced, mainly but not exclusively in the Western tradition, thereby drawing them into this ongoing conversation. So we see how Aristotle builds on and criticizes his teacher, Plato, how Augustine creatively melds traditions stemming from Athens and Jerusalem, how Kant tries to solve “Hume’s problem,” and why Wittgenstein thought most previous philosophy was meaningless.
This eighth edition continues to represent the major philosophers through extensive quotations set in a fairly rich cultural and historical context. The large number of cross-references and footnotes
continue to make the conversation metaphor more than mere fancy. And the four complete works— Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Meditations—are retained.
New to This Edition
A number of new features will be found in this edition. Throughout, the text has been tightened up and minor sections were deleted to make room for new material. In addition, several larger changes have been made. These changes include the following:
• Three new chapters introduce students to the beginnings of philosophical conversations in India and China, with one chapter on ancient Indian philosophy and two chapters on ancient Chinese philosophy.
• A new chapter is devoted entirely to philosophy in the Islamic world.
• A section on Hildegaard of Bingen in a chapter on medieval thought and new sketches of Hypatia and Margaret Cavendish, and a profile of Émilie du Châtelet.
Again, for this edition, a student web page is available at www.oup.com/us/melchert. Here students will find essential points, vocabulary flashcards, sample multiple-choice questions, and further web
resources for each chapter. The latter consist mainly, though not exclusively, of original philosophical texts. This means that if you want to assign students to read, say, Hume’s Enquiry or parts of Plato’s Republic, these texts are easy for them to find. An Instructor’s Manual is available at the same site.
The text is again available both as a single hardback edition and as two paperback volumes, so it can be used economically in either a whole-year or a single-semester course. Although the entire book
contains too much material for a single semester, it provides a rich menu of choices for instructors who do not wish to restrict themselves to the earlier or later periods.
In this era, when even the educated have such a thin sense of history, teaching philosophy in this conversational, cumulative, back- and forward looking way can be a service not just to philosophical understanding, but also to the culture as a whole.