Cover image for The philosophy gym : 25 short adventures in thinking
The philosophy gym : 25 short adventures in thinking
Law, Stephen.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 290 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
B68 .L383 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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From Descartes to designer babies, The Philosophy Gym poses questions about some of history's most important philosophical issues, ranging in difficulty from pretty easy to very challenging. He brings new perspectives to age-old conundrums while also tackling modern-day dilemmas -- some for the first time. Begin your warm up by contemplating whether a pickled sheep can truly be considered art, or dive right in and tackle the existence of God. In this radically new way of looking at philosophy, Stephen Law illustrates the problem with a story,then lets the argument battle it out in clear, easily digestible and intelligent prose. This perfect little mental health club is sure to give each reader's mind a great workout.

Author Notes

Stephen Law is a lecturer in philosphy at the University of London, was formerly Research Fellow in Philosophy at Queen's College, Oxford and received his doctoral degree in philosophy from the University of Oxford.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

British philosopher and editor Law explores 25 of life?s Big Questions in a sprightly volume designed to be a ?course in thinking philosophically.? Categorizing each philosophical ?adventure? as Warm-up, Moderate or More Challenging, he addresses queries both grand and eternal (?Does God Exist?? and ?Where Did the Universe Come From?? are two of his chapters) and controversial and contemporary (?What?s Wrong with Gay Sex?? and ?But is it Art??). Lay readers looking for a comprehensible introduction to critical thinking will benefit from Law?s straightforward exposition of each topic; opposing arguments are clearly organized in a tennis match of sorts: Law has two diners, for example, spar over whether eating meat can be morally justified. (Animals eat other animals, one says. But they don?t know right from wrong, his companion says. Eating animals comes naturally to us, says the first. But so does violence, says the second. Etc.) In the chapter on morality?s supposed dependence on religion, a section titled ?An Argument for the Existence of God? is followed by the impressively accessible ?Plato?s Refutation of the Popular Argument,? which is then countered with the ??But God is Good? Reply,? and so on. The writing is lively and accessible, thanks to Law?s passion for his subject and his creative use of zany conversations between future scientists about the possibility of time travel, for example, and his whimsical examples of strange objects called ?fubbyloofers? to demonstrate the difficulty of determining what is art. The best of these essays end inconclusively, encouraging readers to consult the additional resources Law recommends. When Law unabashedly declares his final opinion??In short, what creationists practice isn?t good science?it?s bunk??it has the potential to offend. It detracts, too, from the book?s admirable aim to ?provide the skills needed to think independently? and ?help fortify your courage in making a moral stand.? (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

In brief chapters presented with a mix of narrative and arch dialog, such philosophical issues as the ethics of meat eating, the existence of God, and the nature of common errors in reasoning are presented as "mental exercises" for the reader. Law (philosophy, Univ. of London) is the editor of Think, a British journal whose mission is to bring philosophy into popular public view. This collection reflects that effort to popularize theory and make it accessible to an audience with no technical background. Each "exercise" offers a bit of historical staging and glimpses at some of the traditional arguments, but none really serves in lieu of reading any of the thinkers-from Plato to Wittgenstein-or of taking an introductory philosophy course. Daniel Postgate's illustrations are both useful and humorous, extending a verbal presentation that sometimes becomes tiresome in its hyperbolic characterizations of the fictional discussants. Chapter endnotes most often cite chapters within recently published anthologies rather than primary sources. Best suited for audiences in public and high school libraries.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 Where Did the Universe Come From?
2 What's Wrong with Gay Sex?
3 Brain-Snatched
4 Is Time Travel Possible?
5 Into the Lair of the Relavist
6 Could a Machine Think?
7 Does God Exist?
8 The Strange Case of the Rational Dentist
9 But Is It Art?
10 Can We Have Morality without God and Religion?
11 Is Creationism Scientific?
12 Designer Babies
13 The Consciousness Conundrum
14 Why Expect the Sun to Rise Tomorrow?
15 Do We Ever Deserve to Be Punished?
16 The Meaning Mystery
17 Killing Mary to Save Jodie
18 The Strange Realm of Numbers
19 What Is Knowledge?
20 Is Morality Like a Pair of Spectacles?
21 Should You Be Eating That?
22 Brain Transplants, "Teleportation," and the Puzzle of Personal Identity
23 Miracles and the Supernatural
24 How to Spot Eight Everyday Reasoning Errors
25 Seven Paradoxes