The possible approaches to philosophy are sufficiently numerous to welcome any brief and well-written statement of philosophical problems which may be placed in the beginner's hands. This volume of Professor Sellars on "The Essentials of Philosophy" introduces the student to philosophy by way of the well-worn, if tangled pathway of epistemological criticism and reflection. One starts with the common-sense view of the world, one sees the breakdown of natural realism, the rise of representative realism, of subjectivism (miscalled idealism) and of skepticism. After twelve pages devoted to Kant, the author devotes the bulk of the book to an exposition of critical realism, and its application to some of the more important issues of epistemology and metaphysics, leading to three chapters on the problem of mind, and a final chapter on "The Place of Values."
The book is well written, moving straight along with clarity and brevity. To those who rely upon brief manuals, the book should make a distinct appeal. The present reviewer comes away from a perusal of the book with two reflections. First, his conviction is strengthened that our students should read continuously in the classics in philosophy rather than in any brief text-book. Secondly, he wonders whether, for the beginner or for the mature student, the 'essentials of philosophy' would not include more of such idea-systems as have influenced and do still influence men's judgments about politics, ethics and religion. This book, excellently well written as it is, seems to the reviewer a bit top-heavy in epistemology. But it may well secure a place for itself among the briefer introductions to philosophy which have come from the press in recent years.
-The Philosophical Review, Vol. 27 show more