Book Reviews of Philosophy Study Guides
It is refreshing to see an introductory philosophy text that is in no way "dumbed-down" to meet the supposed low comprehension and attention span of today's students. Professor Houlgate lays out arguments by premise and conclusion, calls attention to their structure and purpose, and challenges students to think about what they've read by posing concrete questions that require them to read the relevant text carefully. There's no room for them to spin airy speculations.
Walter Bethel (Ph.D., Philosophy)
Prof. Houlgate understands that it is impossible to understand the Western philosophical tradition without having at least a basic understanding of Plato. It is written clearly and responsibly; I would recommend it for anyone seeking a better understanding of the Western philosophical tradition. It would also be useful for any introductory course in Philosophy- and I have taught my share of these. Indeed I plan to recommend it to my upper division Ancient Philosophy students next year.
Plato Unwound: Professor Laurence Houlgate has written an excellent elucidation of the arguments comprising the quintessence of Plato’s philosophy as articulated in the dialogues. Houlgate’s characterization of the structure of Plato’s arguments not only clarifies and analyzes the structure of those arguments, he provides the reader with a detailed explanation of the criteria by which different types of argument, e.g., deductive, inductive, analogical, etc. are evaluated in terms of their rational coherence and soundness. In so doing Prof. Houlgate gives the reader the basic logically analytic tools for the assessment of philosophical arguments and scientific theories whatever the subject matter. This is the stuff of philosophical analysis tout court and therein lies the added value of Houlgate’s volume. It’s more than a companion to Plato’s Dialogues (and, as he stresses, not a replacement or substitute for the original texts.) It is in itself an excellent introduction to the concepts that comprise and motivate logically analytic philosophy.
Stuart Silvers (Ph.D., Philosophy)
I highly recommend this excellent introduction to Plato's dialogues. The writing is crystal clear and accessible, with a rich, analytical treatment of Plato's historical context, issues of concern, dialectic method and complex lines of reasoning. This student guide is certain to help students understand Plato's views and arguments. Beyond that, it provides a deeper understanding of the purpose, methods and value of philosophical inquiry in the larger sense. What I thoroughly enjoyed about reading Prof. Houlgate's book was the undercurrent of his deep respect for and love of reason itself; that may be its best lesson in a world that is sorely in need of careful, reflective reasoning about what to believe and do.