I read because I love to read. But one of the biggest reasons that I love to read is because I am curious. I want to know more about the world. I want to hear great stories that help me to experience what has been or might have been or could be. The more you know the more you know you don’t know.
I picked up Philosophy: A Student’s Guide when it was on sale from Crossway a couple weeks ago. While I have a pretty good background in theology and bible, my philosophy background is weak. So this seemed a good place to bone up on a weakness.
Philosophy: A Student’s Guide is a short (130 pages) introduction to Christian Philosophy. The basic question is ‘in light of canonical Trinitarian Theism, how do we approach…’. There is a chapter on Metaphysics, Anthropology, Ethics, Epistemology and Aesthetics. These chapters were fairly helpful at looking at a particular way to approach Philosophy as a Christian.
I have a quibble or two with some of the way different things were handled. But there was a clear perspective and the author kept to the tightly focused purpose.
The main complaint with the book is that it is meant to be an introduction to Philosophy for Christians. But it is really an introduction to Christian Philosophy. That may seem like a minor difference, but it felt large. If I were teaching a class in a Christian college or Christian high school. This might be a supplemental book, but because of its tight focus it is not an introduction to philosophy as a discipline.
I was also put off by the very long introduction. This is similar to Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke. Both books are intended to be introductions. Lit! is supposed to be encouraging non-readers on how to read better. This is supposed to be moving people toward a better understanding of Philosophy. But both included long, fairly sophisticated introduction that while including helpful content, seem to be place up front a lot of content that would put off the very type of person that the book claims to be interested in.
All good presenters know that you have to hook the audience first, then you can give them some of the meat. But these two books seem to want to focus on the grizzle first and if you get through the grizzle then you get to have the good stuff.
In this case, there was a series introduction (which I didn’t have to read, but I did), a book introduction (again I always read introductions because they are part of the book) and then a Prolegomena (a critical introduction that gives the reader background on the author and their own biases so you can understand how the author’s own background affect the writing of the book.) None of that was bad, but it was more than 25 percent of the total length of the book. Reworking that content into another place or mixing it into the rest of the book would have made it a much better book and much easier read. I did appreciate that Naugle used proper technical vocabulary and mostly explained it well (I still used the kindle dictionary).