An Introduction to Philosophy Book for Everyone


I began teaching philosophy in 1998, and I love talking with students and helping them discover new ideas. Several years ago, I gave up on the mass produced introduction to philosophy textbooks. The offerings from the Big Four corporate educational publishers (Cengage, McGraw Hill, Pearson, and Oxford) are overpriced (I can’t in good conscience ask my students to pay $100 for a book, then more for “extra resources”). Worse, the textbooks have been degrading in quality, full of errors and omissions, and failing adequately to describe philosophy. I decided to write my own introduction to philosophy textbook. After two years of researching and writing, I am proud to publish the result.

How We Are and How We Got Here:
A Practical History of Western Philosophy

A fresh and original presentation that is easy for students, instructors, and general readers to use. This well-written, insightful history of philosophy is basic enough to be understood by those with no prior experience with philosophy but sophisticated enough to inform further those with some knowledge of philosophy.

Based on the author’s 20-plus years of teaching philosophy and learning what works for students, How We Are and How We Got Here is designed to connect with students to help them understand philosophy and why it matters to them, regardless of their major. Its straightforward conversational presentation of philosophy involves readers in philosophy’s long conversation. Its chronological presentation places philosophers in their historical context, showing how philosophy is an ongoing interaction with society seeking practical knowledge useful to us in everyday life.

Key Features that fill multiple gaps in existing textbooks:

  • Shows students how innovations in philosophy have interacted with and changed history, leading to how we are today.
  • Presents philosophy as a vital part of our lives, not as a set of isolated theoretical problems, avoiding the disconnected and fragmented silo approach of most textbooks.
  • Avoids the sink-or-swim approach of anthologies that plunges students into a hodgepodge of disjoint readings without adequate guidance.
  • Does not duplicate material covered in other introductory courses of ethics and logic but allows instructors to focus on the rest of philosophy.
  • Focuses on explaining the ideas of the philosophers, allowing instructors to choose, at their option, primary texts from the plentifully available royalty-free sources.
  • Extensively covers vital areas of philosophy ignored by most textbooks, including pragmatism, phenomenology, social and political philosophy, postmodernism, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of race.
  • Always remains engaging and accessible to the reader. Neither dumbs down the material nor over complicates it.
  • Provides clear and direct text unencumbered by bells and whistles and other extraneous materials.

How We Are and How We Got Here provides students of all backgrounds with a clear and whole understanding of philosophy and its role in history and society, making the 2,400-year history of Western philosophy vital and relevant to today. It shows that philosophy is not a cold analytical academic procedure but exciting and alive, and reveals how we are all philosophers.

Real Clear Philosophy. ISBN: 978-1-7358808-8-4.

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Introduction to Philosophy Book

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