The Philosopher's Way: Thinking Critically About Profound Ideas

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9780130480699: The Philosopher's Way: Thinking Critically About Profound Ideas

For Introduction to Philosophy courses.

The Philosopher's Way inspires students to DO philosophy. Integrated readings, interspersed with commentary, guide students in their understanding of the topics, while critical thinking activities challenge students to go beyond their reading to explore the connections philosophy has on their everyday lives. Full-color visuals bring topics to life, and writing examples give students a foundation for their own philosophical exploration.

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Review:

Reviewer Endorsements of The Philosopher's Way

 

"It is an innovative approach to enabling students to appreciate the value of philosophy and benefit from its study, and I certainly look forward to
using it in my courses!" - Christian Perring, Dowling College

 

"This text excels in clarifying difficult philosophical ideas and especially in showing the relevance of philosophy to their everyday lives." - David Lopez, American River College

 

"The author has a gift for making complex philosophical connections understandable" - Elizabeth Laidlaw, Monroe Community College

 

"The questions and exercises for students both clarify concepts and provoke original thought...Students are also encouraged to engage directly with the philosophical problems of the ages." - Randall Horton, San Jacinto College South

 

"... I think the inclusion of student essays and comments is one of the best features of this text. Students need to hear what other students have to say on the new and unfamiliar topic of philosophy. The student essays serve as paradigms for the type of thinking and writing I would expect to find in my students." - Dr. Timothy Davis, Community College of Baltimore County

Chaffee's text is an excellent and accessible introduction to philosophy that related philosophy to students' lives.  The author's general approach is sound; he endeavors to make philosophy "interesting to students who tend to find it overly abstract and irrelevant to what they are doing.  His discussion questions are excellent, encouraging students to think about their own struggles with the meaning of life, the issue of how we know things to be true or false, or issues regarding religious belief.  The main challenge for my students is being able to understand abstract ideas.  Another challenge is for them to develop any interest in philosophy at all.  While some students will not respond to any textbook or teacher, Chaffee does as good a job as any text in trying to make philosophy interesting, showing how it relates to contemporary culture, including popular culture through interesting caveats and illustrations.  As far as suiting my needs as a professor, in general, the book succeeds." -Michael Potts, Methodist College

While there are advantages to students reading straight primary texts, it is also useful to have primary texts explained in detail, especially regarding background details, to give them context.  Chaffee's book does a good job giving them such context.  -Michael Potts, Methodist College

The pedagogical aids are among the best I have seen in an introductory textbook.  The questions are clear and thoroughly cover the material in the chapters.  Both the “Think Critically” and “Thinking Philosophically” exercises do a fine job of finding intersections between the philosophical issues discussed in the text and situations that might occur in the students' lives.  I have found that the quality of student essays has improved since they are more interested when they are able to relate philosophy to their lives when they answer a question.  -Michael Potts, Methodist College

The level (of writing) is about right; the author is clear and writes in a way that should be understandable to the undergraduate student.  The integrated readings work well in the text, and while some of them are difficult, the author explains the background and the meaning of the integrated readings in a clear way.  I especially think the author does a fine job explaining Kantian metaphysics and epistemology.  One of my most challenging tasks as a professor is to clearly explain the Kantian forms of sensibility and categories of the understanding.  The author does as good a job as any I have read in explaining Kant in an understandable way.  -Michael Potts, Methodist College

The writing is clear and engaging, and the author does a good job of introducing philosophy as something of value to students, something that can affect them in a positive way as long as they live.  The length and depth of analysis are appropriate for an introductory course.  -Michael Potts, Methodist College

I have already adopted the book and plan to keep using it.  It is clear, it gives examples and asks questions that are relevant to the lives of students, and has detailed but clear discussion of key philosophical issues. If I were describing this book to a colleague, I would say something like this: “This is one of the clearest and detailed textbooks in introductory philosophy on the  market today.  It not only covers the major issues in sufficient detail, but makes the material relevant to students' everyday lives using concrete examples and discussion questions.”  -Michael Potts, Methodist College

We are currently using Chaffee's book, The Philosopher's Way.  My general reaction to this book is that it's instructor and student friendly.  The chapters are laid out well, with good discussion questions and easy-to-read formats.  The most important part of this book is its approach.  I think it is dangerous to approach philosophy as a history lesson.  This approach is not faithful to the philosophers that invested their lives and, most notably, their beliefs into their work.  Chaffee not only uses a topical approach but he also manages to address the philosophers in an order that builds the students knowledge upon knowledge.  What they learn in chapter two will be crucial to how they understand chapter three and so forth.  -Renton Rathbun, Owens State Community College  

He also incorporated critical thinking quite well into his text.  This helps the students engage the ideas they are studying.  It's not just a history lesson for them to observe, but rather, they are learning what to do with these ideas.  The critical thinking helps them answer questions like, what do I do with this idea?  In what way do these ideas affect my life?  If I don't have an opinion on a matter, what is a responsible way for me to come to a conclusion?  Is there value in restraining my judgment?  -Renton Rathbun, Owens State Community College   

My students are like most I am sure.  They come from a culture that is very passionate about issues they know very little about.  This mentality is encouraged in our culture to the point that this drive to be passionate is more important than understanding the complexity of what it is they claim to believe.  This book not only introduces my students to philosophy but it introduces them to methodologies that will help them achieve a responsible and self-realized belief.  -Renton Rathbun, Owens State Community College   

The tightrope that a textbook writer must walk is keeping the language clear, understandable and entertaining, while still maintaining the complexities of the concepts they are discussing.  Chaffee brings a great balance that engages the students but does not inundate them with terminology and personal musings.  -Renton Rathbun, Owens State Community College   

All the chapters fit the level that I feel most comfortable.  I have taught at colleges that used books with only primary texts and others that had short comments between texts.  However, with an introduction class the language and familiarity that Chaffee uses is essential to the students understanding and motivation.  I have found that some instructors are so in love with their graduate school experience that they want to duplicate that experience with their students, which may be at the demise of the students' learning.  -Renton Rathbun, Owens State Community College   

The visual aspect of the book is great.  I can't say that it is essential; however, I think it brings a unique aspect to philosophy that is often neglected by other texts in philosophy.  I think there is a definite psychological “dismay” when a student looks into a book of pure black and white pages.  I think there is a real value in a book that is aesthetically pleasing in its format and even educational in its use of pictures.  -Renton Rathbun, Owens State Community College   

I have already adopted this book for my class and am very happy with the results.  The book remembers the students, which is rare in some intro texts.  I appreciate the balance Chaffee has between being student friendly and being philosophically responsible.  Some texts I've looked at either are so rigid that they resemble a Bronte novel or they try to be some kind of strange new “hip” book of coffeehouse-philosophy.  -Renton Rathbun, Owens State Community College   

To a colleague I would say the book is well structured to give you the security of a sound study with your students but still gives you the freedom to take your students into lively debate and consideration over well developed primary texts.  Renton Rathbun, Owens State Community College   

Because most of our faculty (full-time and adjunct) follow approximately the order of topics found in Chaffee in their classes, Chaffee's text has been (and continues to be) a candidate for adoption by us.  Most of our faculty admire the “critical thinking” approach the book takes and its reader-friendly writing style.  -Tim Davis, Baltimore County Community College

My general impression of the Chaffee text is that it fits a growing need for philosophy texts which students will actually read and find to be a valuable asset in achieving the learning outcomes of our PHIL 101.  The organization of topics and the author's explanations of arguments and ideas are both philosophically sound and pedagogically sound as well.  Students find it far easier to enter the study of philosophy through issues dealing with human freedom, issues of personal identity and ethics.  -Tim Davis, Baltimore County Community College

I not only endorse the order of general topics/areas of philosophy as presented in the text, but I also find the order of the presentations  on the individual concepts within those larger areas academically and pedagogically sound. For example, the arrangement in chapter three of Kant, Freud and Ryle leading up to the debate between the Materialist and Phenomenological approaches to the question of the nature of consciousness brings a coherence to this issue not found elsewhere as far as I know.  As presently constituted the various topics, theories and philosophers are presented in a balanced, fair and appropriate distribution of text space.  -Tim Davis, Baltimore County Community College

The essays in the “Students Thinking About Philosophy” sections are a wonderful pedagogical device.  They offer an absolutely necessary model for students to follow as they write their own philosophical essays in response to the “Thinking Philosophically” questions which one would use as the basis for both in-class and homework writing assignments.  -Tim Davis, Baltimore County Community College

Chaffee's literary style is warm and engaging.  The author writes in a tone (and with a vocabulary) appropriate and effective for a college, freshman-level course.  Without sacrificing academic rigor, the author writes in a way that encourages the students to read on without getting lost in increasingly complex argumentation and sentence structures.  The style is grammatically and syntactically clear, devoid of long drawn-out sentences and paragraphs introductory students have a hard time following.  -Tim Davis, Baltimore County Community College

Yes, I would most definitely adopt Chaffee's book for use in my classes.  And I would lobby for its use on all sections of Introduction to Philosophy at my college.  Chaffee's book takes a learning-centered, student-friendly approach to the subject.  It does not talk down to students and neither does it make philosophy too abstract.  Chaffee has succeeded in putting together a text that will stimulate students' interest in philosophy and offer them highly effective resources to develop their critical and philosophical reflections.  -Tim Davis, Baltimore County Community College

I am currently using The Philosopher's Way.  I think the approach of the book is sound and it basically sets out what it intends to do.  -Randall Horton, San Jacinto Community College

The level of difficulty seems about right.  I like the fact that the book as a narrative and the author created a “voice.”  However, the students do not generally seem to notice this fact, and perhaps it is best that they don't.  As a teaching tool, I like to draw their attention to the voice of John Chaffee and distinguish it from the voices of the other philosophers in the book.  -Randall Horton, San Jacinto Community College

This is my present text, but it compares to other texts I have used favorably.  I really appreciate having some primary text but not leaving the students to interpret it all on their own.  I think this is absolutely the correct approach to take in a textbook.  -Randall Horton, San Jacinto Community College

I would describe this book to a colleague by saying it is well organized, easy to read, and a nice blend of primary and secondary text.  Important definitions are highlighted in the margin, and plenty of visuals break up the text.  -Randall Horton, San Jacinto Community College

My initial reaction is the Chaffee has developed a basic text in philosophy that is distinctly different from all the texts with which I am familiar.  The text presents material in a variety of formats and links the student to a wealth of resources.  The text offers an array of features that can be used effectively in ways they serve the author's stated aims. -Christian Perring, Dowling College    

This book has several virtues.  The author is very skilled at organizing complex material into a coherent sequence of issues and arguments, and he writes very well.  As a general overview of Western philosophy, the book is an excellent guide, bringing important and complex ideas together into a coherent and comprehensible whole.  -Peter Morton, Mount Royal College 

The author's organization of material and explanations of specific ideas are very good.  The material is presented in a way that I think students would be able to understand, and the questions he presents would be appropriately challenging for them.  -Peter Morton, Mount Royal College 

I think that in this chapter the author's skill as a writer comes out most clearly.  He writes at a level that would be understood and appreciated by most students.  It is clear and “introductory” without being condescending. -Peter Morton, Mount Royal College 

The writing, as throughout this book, is very good.  The author presents complex ideas in a straightforward way that I think most students would appreciate.  -Peter Morton, Mount Royal College 

I greatly admire the author's ability to incorporate such a vast amount of knowledge in a single introductory textbook.  The content is well organized, and the writing is often exemplary.&nbs...

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