Higher Education

Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader, 8th Edition

  • Gary E. Kessler California State University, Bakersfield
  • ISBN-10: 1111834679  |  ISBN-13: 9781111834678
  • 656 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2010, 2007, 2004
  • © 2013 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $160.50
  • Newer Edition Available



Engaging for students of all levels, VOICES OF WISDOM: A MULTICULTURAL PHILOSOPHY READER has set the standard for multicultural introductions to philosophy. This collection of culturally diverse readings introduces students to basic philosophical questions in ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. In this revised and updated Eighth Edition, the authors include the classic writings of Buddha, Plato, the Dalai Lama and others to explore timeless issues such as terrorism, civil disobedience, homosexuality, human rights, animal rights, language, and truth and power. VOICES OF WISDOM introduces students to the traditional terrain of philosophy as developed in the European tradition in a manner that embraces significant philosophical insights borne out of different cultural legacies.

Features and Benefits

  • For the first time, a Premium Website is available with the book. This website includes videos and other useful interactive study tools.
  • Readings from different genres and eras, including essays, fiction, dialogue, and poetry, expose students to a variety of philosophical literature, from classics to contemporary selections by preeminent philosophers.
  • Two chapters dedicated to helping students acquire, or practice again, the foundational skills needed for the course.
  • Pedagogical aides and instructional tools make teaching and learning easier. They include learning objectives for each chapter, reading questions, and critical thinking questions that assist students in preparing to read the selection.
  • A glossary of key terms allows students to reference the bold-faced words/concepts that they encountered while reading.
  • A pronunciation guide, Appendix 2, assists students in pronouncing Chinese, Sanskrit, and Arabic terminology.

Table of Contents

Part ONE. Introduction
Chapter ONE. What Is Philosophy?
1.1. A Definition of Philosophy
1.2. What Is Rationality?
1.3. Reading Philosophy
1.4. Does Philosophy Bake Bread?
BERTRAND RUSSELL: On the Value of Philosophy
Chapter TWO. Thinking and Writing Philosophically
2.1. A Little Logic
2.2. How to Write Philosophy
Part TWO. Value Theory (Axiology)
Chapter THREE. How Should One Live?
3.1. Introduction
3.2. The Buddha and the Middle Way
THE BUDDHA: The Four Noble Truths
WALPOLA RAHULA: The Fourth Noble Truth
3.3. Confucius and the Life of Virtue
D. C. LAU: Confucius and Moral Character
3.4. Socrates on Living the Examined Life
PLATO: The Apology
3.5. Aristotle on Happiness and the Life of Moderation
ARISTOTLE: Nicomachean Ethics
3.6. The Song of God
3.7. What Is the Meaning of Life?
SUSAN WOLF: Meaning in Life
Chapter FOUR. How Can I Know What Is Right?
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Kant and the Categorical Imperative
IMMANUEL KANT: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
4.3. Utilitarianism
JOHN STUART MILL: What Utilitarianism Is
4.4. Revaluation of Values
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE: On the Genealogy of Morality
4.5. The Divine Command Theory
AL-ASHARI: The Theology of Al-Ashari
KAI NIELSEN: Ethics Without God
4.6. The Ethic of Care
VIRGINIA HELD: Justice, Utility, and Care
4.7. Moral Relativism
LOUIS P. POJMAN: A Critique of Ethical Relativism
Chapter FIVE. What Makes a Society Just?
5.1. Introduction
5.2. God and Justice
KHALED ABOU EL FADL: Islam and Democracy
5.3. Capitalism and Exploitation
KARL MARX AND FRIEDRICH ENGELS: Manifesto of the Communist Party
5.4. The Original Position
JOHN RAWLS: A Theory of Justice
5.5. Our Obligation to the State
PLATO: Crito
5.6. Civil Disobedience
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: Letter from Birmingham Jail
5.7. God is Red
VINE DELORIA, JR.: Sacred Places and Moral Responsibility
Chapter SIX. Is Justice for All Possible?
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Sexism, Racism, and Homophobia
bell hooks: Ain''t I a Woman
CORNEL WEST: Race Matters
SUZANNE PHARR: Homophobia as a Weapon of Sexism
6.3. Illegal Immigration
REGINALD WILLIAMS: A Case for Residency
6.4. Globalization and Justice
PETER SINGER: One World: The Ethics of Globalization
6.5. Terrorism and Morality
BAT-AMI BAR ON: Why Terrorism Is Morally Problematic
6.6. Philosophy in a Time of Terror
JÜRGEN HABERMAS: Fundamentalism and Terror
6.7. The Problem of Too Many People
GARRETT HARDIN: The Tragedy of the Commons
6.8. Animal Rights
TOM REGAN: The Case for Animal Rights
Chapter SEVEN. What Is Aesthetic Value?
7.1. Introduction
7.2. Art as Experience
JOHN DEWEY: Having an Experience
7.3. Women and Art
LINDA NOCHLIN: Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?
7.4. Zen Culture
D. T. SUZUKI: Japanese Culture and Art
7.5. The End of Art and the Citizen Artist
ARTHUR C. DANTO: After the End of Art
EMILY HICKS: The Artist as Citizen
Part THREE. Epistemology
Chapter EIGHT. Is Knowledge Possible?
8.1. Introduction
8.2. Sufi Mysticism
AL-GHAZALI: Deliverance from Error
8.3. Is Certainty Possible?
RENÉ DESCARTES: Meditations I and II
8.4. Empiricism and Limited Skepticism
DAVID HUME: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
8.5. Should We Believe Beyond the Evidence?
WILLIAM K. CLIFFORD: The Ethics of Belief
WILLIAM JAMES: The Will to Believe
8.6. Classical Indian Epistemology
JOHN M. KOLLER: Knowledge and Reality
8.7. Feminist Epistemology
ALESSANDRA TANESINI: The Importance of Standpoint in Feminism
Chapter NINE. Does Science Tell Us the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth?
9.1. Introduction
9.2. How Do We Come to Believe?
CHARLES SANDERS PEIRCE: The Fixation of Belief
9.3. The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
KARL POPPER: Conjectures and Refutations
9.4. Scientific Revolutions
THOMAS S. KUHN: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
9.5. Science and Traditional Thought
9.6. Feminism and Science
HELEN E. LONGINO: Can There Be a Feminist Science?
Part FOUR. Metaphysics
Chapter TEN. What Is Really Real?
10.1. Introduction
10.2. The Dao
LAOZI: Dao De Jing
10.3. Platonic Dualism
PLATO: The Republic
10.4. Nondualism
SHANKARA: The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination
10.5. Subjective Idealism
GEORGE BERKELEY: The Principles of Human Knowledge
10.6. Pre-Columbian Cosmologies
JORGE VALADEZ: Pre-Columbian Philosophical Perspectives
10.7. Why Is There Something Rather than Nothing?
MARTIN HEIDEGGER: Introduction to Metaphysics
Chapter ELEVEN. Are We Free or Determined?
11.1. Introduction
11.2. Do We Have Real Choices?
RICHARD TAYLOR: Freedom and Determinism
11.3. We Are Determined
11.4. We Are Free
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE: Existentialism
11.5. Karma and Freedom
11.6. We Are Both Free and Determined
NANCY HOLMSTROM: Firming Up Soft Determinism
Chapter TWELVE. What Am I?
12.1. Introduction
12.2. You Are Your Mind
12.3. You Are an Embodied Self
EVE BROWNING COLE: Body, Mind, and Gender
12.4. You Are a Computing Machine
BRUCE H. HINRICHS: Computing the Mind
12.5. You Are Not a Machine
JOHN SEARLE: Can Computers Think?
12.6. You Are Meat
TERRY BISSON: They''re Made Out of Meat
Chapter THIRTEEN. Who Am I?
13.1. Introduction
13.2. There Is No Self
THE BUDDHA: False Doctrines about the Soul
The Simile of the Chariot
13.3. Down with the Ego
DEREK PARFIT: Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons
13.4. Where Am I?
13.5. Social Identity
GLORIA ANZALDÚA: How to Tame a Wild Tongue
13.6. Gender Identity
Chapter FOURTEEN. Are Religious Claims True?
14.1. Introduction
14.2. Arguments for God''s Existence
ANSELM OF CANTERBURY: The Ontological Argument
14.3. Can Evil and God Co-Exist?
J. L. MACKIE: Evil and Omnipotence
14.4. Unheard Voices of Suffering
14.5. Religion and the Subordination of Women
ROSEMARY RUETHER: Is Christianity Misogynist?
14.6. Are All Religions True?
THE DALAI LAMA: The Role of Religion in Modern Society
14.7. Are All Religions the Same?

What's New

  • Fifteen new readings, from authors such as Kai Nielsen, Virginia Held, Slavoj Žižek, Helen Longino, and Martin Heidegger, bring more recent or varied perspectives.
  • Twelve color photos pertaining to the topic of a reading or the author's introduction to the readings have been added.
  • Chapter 1 has been revised to focus more specifically on giving students a skill-building foundation.
  • A new chapter is added in this edition: Chapter 2, "Thinking and Writing Philosophically".
  • The previously removed material on logic, including an introduction to critical thinking and arguments, has been reintegrated into the book in response to users' feedback.

Learning Resource Bundles

Choose the textbook packaged with the resources that best meet your course and student needs. Contact your Learning Consultant for more information.

Bundle: Text + Premium Web Site Printed Access Card

ISBN-10: 1133903266  | ISBN-13: 9781133903260

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This Bundle Includes:

  • Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader
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Printed Text + Premium Web Site Instant Access Code

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This Bundle Includes:

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    List Price = $213.95  | CengageBrain Price = $213.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $160.50
  • Premium Web Site Instant Access Code
    List Price = $54.00  | CengageBrain Price = $54.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $54.00

Efficacy and Outcomes


"An introductory survey with excellent explanations by the author, and an international scope for both ancient and modern philosophy."

— Lou Reich, Cal State University, San Bernardino

"I was extremely impressed with the textbook and feel that it would be a valuable asset to teaching philosophy and religion from a multicultural perspective."

— William Rodriguez, Bethune Cookman University


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the main title. Select the main title's "About" tab, then select "What's New" for updates specific to title's edition.

For more information about these supplements, or to obtain them, contact your Learning Consultant.

Student Supplements

WebTutor™ Basics on Blackboard®, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access  (ISBN-10: 1285050177 | ISBN-13: 9781285050171)

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Meet the Author

Author Bio

Gary E. Kessler

Gary E. Kessler received his Ph.D. from Columbia University where he studied philosophy and comparative religions. After teaching at Bard College, he accepted a position at California State University, Bakersfield where he taught for over thirty years. His most recent research centers on religion and violence. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including VOICES OF WISDOM, which, when first published in 1992, was the first multicultural textbook and reader intended for use in an introductory philosophy class.