Keith Douglas' Web Page

About me Find out who I am and what I do.
My resumé A copy of my resumé and other documentation about my education and work experience for employers and the curious.
Reviews, theses, articles, presentations A collection of papers from my work, categorized and annotated.
Current research projects What I am currently working on, including some non-research material.
Interesting people People professionally "connected" to me in some way.
Interesting organizations Organizations I am "connected" to. (Some rather loosely.)
Intellectual/professional influences Influences on my work, including an organization chart. Here you can also buy many good books on philosophy and other subjects via amazon.com. I have included brief reviews of hundreds of books.
Professional resources Research sources, amazon.com associates programs, etc.
What is the philosophy of computing? A brief introduction to my primary professional interest.
My intellectual heroes A partial list of important people. Limited to the dead.
My educational philosophy As a sometime teacher I've developed one. Includes book resources.

Book Influences - Philosophy: Textbooks

Title
Author
Purchase / Enjoy Cover
Comment
Classic Philosophical Questions Gould An appallingly bad textbook which I TA'd from for two semesters. Each selection has been renamed, contains inane and badly edited (some look as if they were lifted directly from web pages) "To Think About" sections and the glossary is abysmal at best. The actual range of philosophy is pretty decent, however.
Dictionary of Philosophy Bunge This idiosyncratic dictionary contains several amusing entries (look up "H", for example) as well as reasoned discussion of many philosophical terms, particularly those relevant to the philosophy of science.
Ideas for a New Century Lucht (ed.) This is not exactly a philosophy book, per se, but for lack of a "general" category I'll put it here. It consists of transcribed interviews with artists, scientists, activists and others about who they are and what they do. Ideas, amazingly, do come through.
Introducing Eastern Philosophy Osborne This volume is a bit too superficial to serve much purpose.
Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy Zhang (ed., trans. by Ryden) Essentially a one volume encyclopedia of the basic technical vocabulary of Chinese philosophy from Confucius to approximately the end of the empire. 64 concepts are discussed. A detailed introduction, list of references and a chronology are also included. From my limited knowledge of the subject matter, inclusive as far as it goes, but the analysis of some views of some of the concepts does not go very far and thus strikes one as being padded. Also presupposes some knowledge of the field, though very little.
Oxford Companion To Philosophy Honderich A one volume philosophy encylopedia covering aspects of every reach and area of philosophy. Includes a few odd entries, like "tar-water" and "deaths of philosophers".
Philosophy On Tap: Pint-Sized Puzzles for the Pub Philosopher Lawrence I don't drink beer, so half of this book (recommendations for beer, explanations and information related to it, etc. is not helpful to me) and I cannot comment. On the philosophy side, the introductions are brief, the questions "pint-sized" alright. As an activity at a social occaison for the philosophically inclined (and who are willing to talk shop) but new (e.g. undergraduate club) this might do well as a conversation piece-maker. Other than that it is just a whimsical intro-style text.
Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes Cathcart and Klein A very elementary discussion of various themes in philosophy through, as the title suggests, through jokes. As a starting point, or a source of jokes for people who actually know some philosophy, the book isn't terrible, but any other purpose is dubious.
Primary Philosophy Scriven Scriven introduces philosophy through a series of discussions of god, art, mind, etc. His disproof of the existence of god should be more widely discussed.
Problems of Philosophy Russell Russell's little book is a classic and works to encourage the reader to think about certain problems and wrestle with interesting issues.
The Philosophy of Philosophy Williamson This is actually a version of a series of lectures given by Williamson about the methods, approaches and constraints of philosophy - it would be fair to consider this a work in metaphilosophy (though he has reasons - which I reject but don't consider a big deal - for not using the label). I agree with Williamson that not all philosophical problems are "analysis of language" problems as the stereotypical "analytic" philosopher allegedly believes (or that philosophy of language is somehow central to the discipline). I am also sympathetic to the idea that you don't have to refute extreme forms of skepticism to get anywhere in philosophy (though what counts as extreme, I do not know - and Williamson is a bit unclear what he thinks). I am more dubious, however, about all the stuff about counterfactuals he introduces. I agree that understanding them (and modality) is an interesting and worthwhile project, but representing them as having an "antecedent" and a "consequent" to me looks dangerously misleading. Most valuable in the book is the (all too brief in my view) discussion of what counts as evidence in philosophy. I agree with the author's view that almost anything is potentially such, though understanding how it plays a role is difficult.
Way of Philosophy Wheelwright A book of important historical texts, introductions and mostly sensible questions.

 

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