Higher Education

The Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy, 8th Edition

  • Robert C. Solomon University of Texas, Austin
  • Kathleen M. Higgins University of Texas, Austin
  • ISBN-10: 0495595152  |  ISBN-13: 9780495595151
  • 448 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2006, 2002
  • © 2010 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $68.25
  • Newer Edition Available
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Written by well-known and respected philosophy teachers Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen Higgins, this best-selling introduction to philosophy is student-friendly in style and organization. This engaging text covers philosophy's central topics through an exploration of timeless "big questions" such as the meaning of life, God, and morality, giving students of all backgrounds and interest levels an appealing, relevant context to approach the course material and explore their own ideas and opinions. The writing style is concise and accessible, coverage is comprehensive without being intimidating, and each chapter's discussion is self-contained, making it easy for instructors to choose their preferred topics and presentation order.

Features and Benefits

  • This engaging text is organized around a series of timeless "big questions" such as the meaning of life, God, and morality, giving students of all backgrounds and interest levels a useful, relevant context to approach key philosophical concepts, explore their own ideas, and form their own opinions as they examine each topic.
  • Throughout the text, special boxed features present excerpts from primary sources to expose students to fundamental works in the history of philosophy, allowing them to benefit from a more informed perspective without the need to confront difficult or intimidating texts in their entirety.
  • Biographical descriptions of famous philosophers and their views help students recognize philosophical ideas and texts as the work of real people with experiences and struggles relevant to students' own lives, providing an invaluable human connection to help them understand and appreciate even difficult course material.

Table of Contents

1. Philosophical Questions.
2. The Meaning of Life.
3. God.
4. The Nature of Reality.
5. The Search for Truth.
6. Self.
7. Freedom.
8. Morality and the Good Life.
9. Justice and the Good Society.
10. Philosophy, Sex, Race, and Culture.
11. Beauty.
Appendix A: Writing Philosophy.
Appendix B: Deductive Logic Valid Argument Forms.
Appendix C: Common Informal Fallacies.

What's New

  • The Eighth Edition includes additional material on key topics in nearly every chapter, including a new comparison of Kant's noumenal/phenomenal distinction and modern computer hardware/software, information on Aristotle's notion of "final cause," a discussion of philosophy of language (and the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis specifically), an elaboration on Bentham's happiness calculus, and a revised discussion of Schopenhauer.
  • Abundant new material greatly expands coverage of non-Western thought, including an updated discussion of Hindu and Confucian views of the self and an exploration of the connections between anarchism and Daoist views on government.
  • A thoroughly revised chapter on "Philosophy, Sex, Race, and Culture" contains new sections on Hinduism (the Bhagavad-Gita, karma and dharma, avatars, the aims of life, karma-yoga), Buddhism (impermanence, interdependent arising), and China (Confucianism, Daoism, and the ideas of wuwei (nonassertive action) and ziran (spontaneity).
  • The chapter "Philosophy, Sex, Race, and Culture" features revised coverage of Medieval Islamic philosophy, Latin American philosophy (Aztecs and Mayans, positivism, Vasconcelos, Marxism in Latin America, and whether a distinctive Latin American philosophy is possible), African philosophy (20th-century African thought, including Senghor and the negritude movement, the idea of pan-Africanism, and culturalism vs. universalism), and feminist philosophy of language.

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Robert C. Solomon

Robert C. Solomon (1942-2007) was internationally renowned as a teacher and lecturer in philosophy. He was Quincy Lee Centennial Professor and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and over the course of his career taught at numerous institutions, including Princeton University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Auckland, and the University of California, in addition to the University of Texas. He authored more than 40 books, including Introducing Philosophy, A Short History of Philosophy (with Kathleen Higgins), The Passions, In the Spirit of Hegel, About Love, Above the Bottom Line, Fourth Edition (with Clancy Martin), Ethics and Excellence, The Joy of Philosophy, and True to Our Feelings, and he was co-editor of Twenty Questions, Fifth Edition (with Lee Bowie and Meredith Michaels), and Since Socrates (with Clancy Martin).

Kathleen M. Higgins

Kathleen M. Higgins is professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University and has taught at the University of Auckland and the University of California, Riverside, in addition to the University of Texas. She is the author of several books, including Nietzsche's "Zarathustra," The Music of Our Lives, Comic Relief: Nietzsche's "Gay Science," The Music between Us: Is Music the Universal Language? and co-author of What Nietzsche Really Said, A Short History of Philosophy, and A Passion for Wisdom (with Robert C. Solomon). She has edited or co-edited numerous books, including Aesthetics in Perspective and Thirteen Questions in Ethics and Social Philosophy, Second Edition (with Lee Bowie and Meredith Michaels).