Words of Wisdom: Intro to Philosophy
Jody Ondich, Lake Superior College, Duluth, Minnesota
Copyright Year: 2018
Publisher: Jody Ondich
Conditions of Use
It certainly covers an extremely wide range of areas and ideas. While there are some non-Western examples (Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Rumi, etc.) sporadically, in terms of its cultural representation, the book could have been more comprehensive. read more
It certainly covers an extremely wide range of areas and ideas. While there are some non-Western examples (Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Rumi, etc.) sporadically, in terms of its cultural representation, the book could have been more comprehensive.
I can only comment on the sections regarding eastern philosophy as my area of expertise is Buddhism. Taking the Dalai Lama chapter as an example, what is written is not inaccurate, but also a lot of crucial information--what he represents, why he promotes peace (political tensions between China and Tibet), and what Vajrayana philosophy is--is largely missing.
Including YouTube links and comments on Tweeter makes the book quite relevant and relatable to students. But some bibliographies are quite outdated.
Highly accessible language is perhaps the strength of this book. I, however, wished that the book could have brought more academic rigor and complex cultural context around major thinkers.
The chronological organization brings a clear structure and consistency. One minor issue that I had is the inconsistency of the "key takeaway" section. Some have while some have not.
Another strength of this book is it is readily divisible and digestible. I definitely recommend using this book as a module.
Some topics are more clearly organized than others. In terms of the overall organization, I don't think this isn't the most logical way of presenting such a wide range of philosophical traditions. But I also recognize that it would be an extremely difficult job to combine all of these contents in a logical, clear fashion.
It took a while for me to get the hang of how to interact with the interface. I wish there was a clear button to go to the next/previous page.
I didn't find any.
As I stated above, the weakest side of this book is too heavy on the Western tradition. I wish there were more presence of the female voices/ideas in Buddhism-related sections.
The book ranges widely, very widely, from Aesop to Weisel, or as I prefer, from Anscombe to Nietzsche. There is attention given to more legitimate sources of ethical deliberation than most other introductory texts. In addition, the book makes... read more
The book ranges widely, very widely, from Aesop to Weisel, or as I prefer, from Anscombe to Nietzsche. There is attention given to more legitimate sources of ethical deliberation than most other introductory texts. In addition, the book makes plain its orientation to online enhancements from linked sources, which is a good combination. It provides a vetted list of all time greats joined by outsider work, with room for the instructor to add links to study valuable lines of thought (as shown by class interest or the instructor's discretion).
This is an introductory text, an anthology of primary sources. There is very little commentary. The introductions are usually short and summary. If there is any room left to judge for accuracy, it would have to be on the editorial choices of what to leave in, what to leave out. On that count, she succeeds. Fortunately for all concerned, the author's choices match closely the choices of the whole field of introductory ethics courses, which makes the book acceptable for an introduction to the prospective philosopher; and where the whole field of academic philosophy fails by excluding the outsider, such as Rumi, Kierkegaard, Pascal, and Native Americans, the reader can at least read enough to know that the outsider-sources are worth learning.
Content is up to date in that the book is a collection of canonical philosophy excerpts and links, which make up about two-thirds of the whole. The canonical readings will be relevant to any serious introduction to philosophical ethics. The remaining one-third of the readings are mostly substantive and in my judgment will be resilient and robust, serving well for some time to come. One expects that with each year, a new edition will rotate through much of the newest content, especially in Part VII (Links to Additional Great Resources)--Ashley Judd, Stephen Colbert, TED talks-- and to a lesser extent Part VI (Modern Wisdom). The reviewer wishes that the author had included Anscombe's complete essay, "Modern Moral Philosophy" which explains the dearth of good 20th Century essays.
The writing is clear, deliberate, as complex as necessary and no more.
As an edited anthology, the sources are all over the map, but the author brings a consistent tone to her selections. If anything, her treatment may lead the reader to think that there is more agreement between contemporaries and the ancients, or the East and the West, than actually exists. For an introductory reader, it is very good in writing tone.
The modularity of the book is, in my opinion, the most advantageous part. The book does allow for a timeline and geographic approach, but little if anything would be lost if the instructor rearranged the readings or selected out parts for special attention. Modularity is not, in itself, a self-evident good, but in this case the modular approach is helpful.
The book takes a chronological approach to the development of ethical thought, which serves the nature of philosophical ethics well. This is because ethics rises from questions that are asked, then answered, then the questions change in part, so the answers change in part, and so forth. The subject really is a Long Conversation, and the organization serves that underlying approach well.
With both Kindle and Apple's Books, version 1.19, there is nothing amiss. It was very easy to go from the table of contents to any point in the text, move a few pages left or right, and jump back to the start. The layout was very attractive as well. Please avoid trying to read this as a PDF, which was not fun.
I found no grammar issues.
There is a serious attempt at opening up the Long Conversation of philosophical ethics to the academic outsiders, including ancient moralists, medieval religion's greats, and a broad sweep of those who are usually neglected.
I think it might have been good for the author to write longer original introductions to each section and each reading. Yet, even so, it's hard to find fault with the links she provides. My suggestion is that the author, or the instructor, would link an introduction from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy to each reading.
The book is a comprehensive survey of western philosophy, and it includes several texts from other world cultures. read more
The book is a comprehensive survey of western philosophy, and it includes several texts from other world cultures.
I’m not a specialist in philosophy, but I didn't notice anything that was inaccurate
It includes up-to-date authors, including recent texts in diverse genres, including videos.
This is a truly impressive aspect of this text. In presenting some fairly difficult texts, Ondich includes explanations of terminology and context that, in a short space, go a long way toward helping readers understand. The introductions and in-text explanations are elegant, lucid, and quite accessible.
The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
I will be using this text as modules, and I think the text can be quite useful to instructors in disciplines other than philosophy. Each chapter can be used as-is, as a standalone module.
I thought the structure was helpful and clear.
Reading the book online, it's beautifully formatted. I haven't checked the downloadable versions.
The prose appears error-free.
As a white man, I don’t feel I have standing or lived experience to declare whether this text could be culturally insensitive or offensive with any authority. That said, I will offer my thoughts here, for what they’re worth. The book does include perspectives from many different cultures. Considering this text as an intro to western philosophy (in the introduction of this text, Ondich describes it as such), it is quite inclusive. However, the title and premise of the book suggest that it’s a book concerned with wisdom. I think this could be offensive, that a survey of western philosophy is being presented as a compendium of “Wisdom.” Looking at the title of the book, then at the table of contents dominated by western thinkers, I believe the framing of the book (not necessarily the content) is offensive. Again, if we look at this as an intro to western philosophy, I think the author does an admirable job of being inclusive. But looking at it as a compendium of “Wisdom,” I find it offensive. This speaks to broader problems and questions in the discipline of philosophy. For instructors using this book, this issue of framing would be fairly straightforward to address, and the content itself appears to me to be culturally sensitive.
Aside from the issue of the title, introduction, and framing of the book as “Wisdom,” rather than ‘western philosophy,’ this is a beautifully written and compiled text. It’s humbling to see a teacher/author presenting difficult content in a way that’s so very accessible and clear. As an English instructor, I will be using some of the chapters as modules in my courses. Oftentimes, if I use another instructor’s materials, I like to change or replace introductions, explanations, definitions, etc. But Ondich’s writing is so strong, I’ll be able to use these modules as-is, which I’m very grateful for. Thank you to the author for helping me improve my own course without having to do too much work adapting the materials.
The scope of this textbook is definitely broad enough for a typical Intro to Philosophy class. It may not be as comprehensive as the average anthology textbook, but those books include way more content than could possibly be covered in a semester.... read more
The scope of this textbook is definitely broad enough for a typical Intro to Philosophy class. It may not be as comprehensive as the average anthology textbook, but those books include way more content than could possibly be covered in a semester. This book contains an appropriate amount of material from a wide enough variety of sources and time periods for it to work as a stand-alone textbook for an Intro course. There is no index or glossary, but the Table of Contents is thorough and intuitive, and throughout the text, dictionary definitions are occasionally included for key terms.
Much of this textbook consists of excerpts of primary readings drawn from reputable translations and sources. The content written by the textbook author is also accurate and objective, grounded in good sources and documentation.
By many respects, the content is relevant and up-to-date, but there are two aspects of this category that are worth noting for instructors considering this text. One is that there are a considerable amount of links embedded in the text, linking to youtube videos and other websites. This supplementary content fills out the content of many sections in ways that would leave them a bit thin if the links went dead, or if students had only the pdf without internet access. It’s very useful to have all of these videos and other resources collected together and integrated into this book, but it will also be a big project to maintain and update all of the links. Another point is that many of the classic texts excerpted here make use of public domain translations that are a bit outdated. These may be classic translations in some respects, and in some cases, they may be the best available openly licensed translations, but with many of the texts, there are more recent CC-licensed translations that may be more approachable to the typical student.
The content written by the textbook author is clear and accessible. Some of the excerpts make use of translations that are not necessarily as accessible to students as other alternatives that could have been used (see my comment on “relevance”).
The content sections throughout the book are organized consistently, the framework of the book is clear and consistent throughout, and key terms are used consistently (both internally and with respect to the field in general).
This textbook appears to have been designed natively for the web, and the individual pages/subsections are nice-sized reading sections. The larger sections are arranged chronologically, and they would be easy to assign in different orders, or used a la carte as modules for other courses (for example, the section on Medieval Materials could be used as a reading packet for a course on Medieval Philosophy alongside other texts). Navigation through the modules is easy and intuitive with the web and epub versions.
This text is very well organized, and the Table of Contents makes it very easy to find sections and topics.
This text appears to be primarily designed for the web, and the interface on the web version is quite good. The design is simple and consistent. The epub and pdf versions appear to be ported from the web version, which works pretty well in the epub version, but it is a bit unwieldy in the pdf version, with occasional breaks across the page of images and graphics. The printable pdf ends up being 513 pages, which is about 4 or 5 times as long as it would need to be if it were reformatted with printing in mind.
I didn’t notice any grammatical errors. The majority of content is excerpted from primary sources, but the content written by the textbook is also well-written.
This text does a good job of including a diverse selection of readings from and information about philosophers of various races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The Introduction includes a statement of the intention to include perspectives that have not traditionally been represented as part of the canon of Western Philosophy, and this is accomplished in a way that seems natural and intuitive.
Table of Contents
- Front Matter
- I. Classics
- II. Medieval Materials
- III. Spiritual Philosophy and Tales from the World
- IV. Early Modern Wisdom 1500-1750
- V. Late Modern Wisdom 1750-1950 CE
- VI. Modern Wisdom
- VII. Links to Additional Great Resources
- Back Matter
- Ancillary materials are available by contacting the author or publisher.
About the Book
Words of Wisdom can come from anyone. In this text we discuss topics ranging from "Are Humans good by nature?" to "Is there a God?" to "Do I have the right to my own opinion?" Philosophy is the study of wisdom, and can emerge in our conversations in social media, in school, around the family dinner table, and even in the car. The text uses materials that are 2,500 years old, and materials that were in the news this year. Wise people come in all shapes and types, and from every culture on earth. We have poetry and folktales, sacred writings and letters. Dialogues and interviews, news columns, Ted Talks, You Tube recordings and even comedy are all a part of the content in this text.You will be most successful reading this on line. The formatting in the downloadable versions is not wonderful. There is work being done by the software, but in the meantime, you will want to use it by clicking here on "read book:".
About the Contributors
Jody Ondich, Lake Superior College, Duluth, Minnesota