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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Philosophy Reference

New in Philosophy, Seventheenth Century Philosophy

Major Philosophy Reference 

The Philosopher's Index Thesaurus, Revised 2nd edition by Kelly M. Broughton ( Philosophy Documentation Center ) is a print guide to the major indexing categories to the online The Philosopher's Index database includes more than 200,000 citations to philosophy articles, books, and contributions to anthologies published since 1940. The database covers English language journal articles and books published since 1940, non‑English journal articles published since 1967, and non‑English books published since 1980.

A "philosophy journal article" is defined as one that deals primarily with philosophy and appears in a professional journal. Some of these professional journals are interdisciplinary, and only philosophy articles from these journals are included. Longer book reviews, review articles, bibliographies, and biographies are included. Documents such as correspondence, death notices, and chronicles are excluded. Citations to book reviews can only be found in the print version of The Philosopher's Index.

A "philosophy book" includes original scholarly works, translations, new editions, bibliographies, biographies, textbooks, anthologies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, and lexicons. Pamphlets are excluded.

To help the researcher better understand the content of The Philosopher's index database, an overview of the records added to the databases during a five year period (1993 to 1997) has been provided. This information illustrates the timeliness of the coverage of philosophy books and journals, as well as the prevalence of English language citations. The database contains abstracts for approximately 65% of the citations entered during this period.

The Philosopher's index database covers the following major areas,: Aesthetics, American Philosophy, Applied Ethics, Applied Philosophy, Axiology, Comparative Philosophy, Environmental Philosophy, Epistemology, Ethics, Existentialism, Feminist Philosophy, .History of Philosophy, Logic, Metaphilosophy, Metaphysics, Ontology, Oriental (Asian) Philosophy, Phenomenology, Philosophical Anthropology, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, Political Philosophy, Social Philosophy.

Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy by Oliver Leaman (Routledge) Featuring some 650 signed A-Z entries, this important new resource identifies and defines the principal concepts and individuals in mainstream Asian philosophy Islamic, India, China, Japan and Korea are well represented.
Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy emphasizes the present-day vitality of Asian philosophy and grew out of the 10 volume Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Excerpt: For a long time, Asian philosophy inhabited a rather ambiguous role in philosophy. It was clearly a fringe activity in most of the Anglo‑Saxon and continental philosophical worlds, regarded often more as a scholarly pursuit for philologists and cultural historians than as serious philosophy. Sometimes Asian philosophy was not even regarded this positively, but has been identified with mystical rambling and vague personal advice, not really a part of `serious' philosophy at all. Interestingly, even those working in one area of Asian philosophy sometimes have rather negative attitudes to those working in different areas, which just goes to show how difficult it is to think without stereotypes. For many years I have been working in Islamic and Jewish philosophy, but thought not at all about Indian philosophy, which I suspected was not really worthy of philosophical attention, at least not from an analytical philosopher.

Then I worked on a couple of projects that changed my mind. These collaborative efforts brought me into contact for the first time with many people working on topics and thinkers which I had never come across before, and much to my surprise I discovered that they shared many of the same concerns and interests as I did. Not only was that the case, but also the ideas themselves produced in the various traditions which come under the rubric of Asian philosophy came to seem to me to be extremely interesting, sometimes exactly the same as those with which I started teaching in the area, and wrote a couple of short books designed to help my students find their way around this diverse series of topics and thinkers, and these appeared in 1999 (Key Concepts in Eastern Philosophy) and 2000 (Eastern Philosophy: Key Readings).

One reason why there is a need for more reference material on Asian philosophy is that the general reference works on philosophy often have very little information on it (the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a worthy exception here). I thought it would be interesting to have a reference work which looked at some of the most important thinkers and ideas in Asian philosophy, written by just a few people, and in a format which allows them to express themselves at some length. Although some of the entries are long, many are short, and readers should be aware that most of the entries here have a large literature devoted to them; all we can supply is a relatively restricted discussion. Also, the fact that some topics have become entries and others not does not mean that there is nothing worth saying on the excluded topics. For example, under the entry `sage' there is only discussion of the Chinese notion of the sage. There are of course discussions of this role in the other Asian traditions, but we felt that it is most central to Chinese philosophy and so only have an entry on it with respect to the latter.

I thought a lot about whether it would be better to have a great number of short entries, covering as much of Asian philosophy as possible, or whether we should have just a few long entries. The advantage of the former is that it enables a comprehensive description of the area to be undertaken, but of course does not enable much advantage of having relatively few large entries is that one would be able to display some of the complexity in argument and structure of Asian philosophy, but would be severely restricted in the number of entries which could be included. I decided on a compromise, and so readers will find quite a few brief entries, together with some long ones, where we felt that a fairly extended discussion was appropriate. I am sure that there will be readers who disagree with the decisions which have been made, but those decisions were taken on the basis of advice from teachers and students of Asian philosophy, with the intention of producing the most useful and appropriate sort of volume.

Another interesting debate was over the amount of space that should be devoted to the discussion of the religions on which the philosophy reposes, since there appears to be a much closer link between religion and philosophy in Asian philosophy than in many of the other traditions of world philosophy. In my two earlier books on Asian philosophy I did not have that much material on religion, being severely constrained in terms of space, but here we felt that there was room to write at some length about the religions and systems of thought so closely linked with the various Asian philosophies, and we have used that space accordingly. On the other hand, readers should be aware that we discuss religion only in so far as it relates to philosophy, and this is not a book on Asian religion. Those interested in exploring Asian religions will have to look elsewhere for detailed and comprehensive material on this topic. However, we have interpreted `philosophy' here in a wide sense, and have included what might be regarded as inessential topics when it was felt that they gave useful information on the context within which Asian philosophy took place.

Whether we have got the balance right is an issue for the reader to decide. The success of this volume will lie entirely on whether it is found to be useful in explaining the main topics and thinkers in the area. If readers are enabled to continue their study of Asian philosophy by using this book and then moving onto more specific and specialized works, the authors will have achieved their aims.

Dictionary of World Philosophy by A. Pablo Iannone (Routledge) This new reference provides an extremely comprehensive resource, with entries drawn from West Africa, Arabic, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Jewish, Korean, Latin American, Maori and Native American philosophy. Entries include: abazimu, abortion, Advaita, afrocentricity, age of the world, artificial life, baskets of knowledge, bhakti body, chain of being, Chinese legalism, creation, cybernetics, darshana, death, love, madrash, memory, paradox, passion, truth, virtue, Zen and also abazimu, abortion, Advaita, afrocentricity, age of the world, artificial life, baskets of knowledge, bhakti body, brotherhood, chain of being, Chinese legalism, creation, cybernetics, darshana, death, dravya, empathy, euthanasia, love, madrash, memory, Mohism, mysticism, naturalism, paradox, passion, philosophy of education, speculative grammar, paranormal, Aouism, theurgy, truth, virtue, Zen.

Excerpt: In Jorge Luis Borges's "The Library of Babel," the universe is envisioned as a library composed of an indefinite number of incessantly and insufficiently lighted hexagonal galleries, each wall containing five shelves, each shelf containing thirty‑five books of uniform format, and each book ‑ however minutely ‑ different in content from all others, but the entire (formless and chaotic) set of books containing all the possible combinations of twenty‑five symbols. The narrator acknowledges that, as a youth, he wandered, like many others, through the library's galleries in search of a catalog of catalogs, a compendium of all the rest, which would help organize and understand the chaotic library‑universe and its contents. The task of writing the present dictionary has at times felt disquietly analogous to that of "The Library of Babel"'s wanderers.

This is no reason for wonder. After all, a dictionary, especially a dictionary of philosophy ‑ a characteristically comprehensive branch of inquiry that yields characteristically comprehensive worldviews ‑ is not unlike the compendium sought by the wanderers in "The Library of Babel." Further, the purposes and nature of dictionaries have grown in complexity throughout history in a manner that, at times, prompted confusion, when not dictionary wars. The earliest recorded dictionaries, those of 2500 BCE Sumerian-Akkadian scribes, had the buttressing of conquest as an aim. By providing translations of Akkadian terms, they were meant to help the Sumerian conquerors rule over the vanquished Akkadian population.  By contrast, beginning with the fourth century BCE, the Greek compilers of words, though like the Sumerians concerned with earlier works, aimed at making accessible words ‑ say, four centuries' old Homeric words ‑ which had become hard to understand over time because linguistic and related practices had changed substantially.

Dictionaries of this type soon became the norm in scholarly circles and so remained until the late Middle Ages. They were written for their peers by compilers of words in modern times called lexicographers ‑ from the Greek lexicon ("dictionary") and graphos ("writing" or "writer"), i.e. writers of dictionaries. In the Western world, the language of scholarship eventually became Latin. The main purpose of dictionaries, however, remained the same for centuries: that of reporting the meaning of difficult scholarly words.

This situation changed in the Renaissance, when, in addition to the previous purpose, dictionaries began to recommend and promote attitudes, and express unusual ideas. Initially these were the ideas of the rediscovered Greco‑Roman world. Eventually, they included still other ‑ new ‑ ideas, and dictionaries accordingly began to coin new terms, sometimes even in the vernacular rather than in Latin. Such a development could not but politicize the role of lexicographers. From being guardians of the classic past, they became promoters of new attitudes and, eventually, gatekeepers in the flow of information. To be sure, they had always decided what entries to compile. However, once the promotion of new attitudes became a purpose of lexicographers and their dictionaries, the issue arose whether their decisions were bound to be hopelessly arbitrary and biased or whether, though subjective and not neutral because made by actual human beings who have their preferences and ideals, they nonetheless could be balanced and open to reason.

This issue has been enhanced in our times. Like all times, they are not easy times in which to live. Yet, they are especially complicated because of the unprecedented fragmentation they involve between the myriad of cultures which are coming into increasing ‑ sometimes conflictive ‑ contact during the turn of the century; between one philosophical ‑ or intellectual, or artistic ‑ tradition and another; between the business, technology, and policymaking sectors; and between a number of the societal sectors just indicated and the general public. This dictionary partly grew from the realization that such fragmentation constitutes a significant obstacle to a range of human activities that are crucial to any human flourishing. For, at the very least, it is a significant obstacle to mutual understanding and any reasonably harmonious interactions between groups, these and their members, and individuals with each other. Especially in cross‑cultural interactions, it undermines the flourishing of ethnic groups and their members when they are ‑ but sometimes also when they are not ‑ disadvantaged.

The dictionary builds on work I carried out in a range of philosophical and related areas, which led to my Contemporary Moral Controversies in Technology (Oxford, 1987); Contemporary Moral Controversies in Business (Oxford, 1989), Through Time and Culture (Prentice Hall, 1994), and, perhaps most notably, Philosophy as Diplomacy (Humanities Press, 1994) and Philosophical Ecologies (Humanity Books, 1999). These provided evidence for the said lack of integration, and began to formulate ways of addressing the problems it poses.

The dictionary also benefited from many outstanding works of reference, among them such encyclopedias and dictionaries as Edward Craig and Dr Luciano Floridi, eds, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Routledge, 1998); William L. Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion (Humanities Press, 1996); Stuart Brown, Diane Collinson, and Robert Wilkinson, eds, Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth‑Century Philosophers (Routledge, 1996); Ellis Cashmore et al., Dictionary of Race and Ethnic Relations (Routledge, 1996); Robert Audi, ed., The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (Cambridge, 1995); Stephen Schuhmacher and Gert Woerner, eds, The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion (Shambhala,1994); John Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy (SUNY,1989); A.R. Lacey, A Dictionary of Philosophy (Scribner's, 1976); Paul Edwards, Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Macmillan, 1967); and Jose Ferrater Mora, Diccionario de Filosofia (Sudamericana, 1965).

In attempting to help further address contemporary fragmentation problems, this dictionary departs from the predominant trend of using one or more editors to combine the contributions of hundreds, if not thousands, of philosophers. To be sure, this approach has produced outstanding works, as evidenced by the multi‑authored dictionaries and encyclopedias included among those just listed. Yet, arguably in part as a result of sheer

lack of communication ‑ when not of conflicting personalities or methodological inflexibilities ‑ between contributors, such works sometimes display a lack of cohesiveness, even of consistency, which can only contribute to further contemporary fragmentation. This is not to say that the present dictionary simply reverts to the good old single‑author days when, as the lexicographer Henri Mioint said, "dictionaries were much worse, and also much better." Instead, it seeks a balance between these extremes by relying on the advice of a manageable number of editorial consultants who review lists of entries and drafts of the entries' content, while a single author writes the drafts as well as the final version of the manuscript.

In moving the said integrative project further, this dictionary presents and discusses a great variety of philosophical traditions in a manner that tries to be sensitive to the different concerns that motivate them. Some of these traditions developed in Asia and Europe, while others flourished in the Americas, Africa, or Oceania. The criterion used in this dictionary to include specific philosophical traditions is that they have been the subject of substantial studies from a philosophical standpoint, e.g. traditional studies in the history of philosophy or more recent studies in ethno-philosophy. This approach makes room for traditions such as those in Asia, Europe, and India, which have been long recognized in scholarly philosophical studies. It also makes room for other traditions such as those that flourished in the pre‑Hispanic Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, and among the Maori, which have been the subject of more recent or recently more numerous philosophical studies.

Whenever it is likely to be illuminating (and without succumbing to the temptations of simplistic equal‑space rules), this dictionary points out the contributions of different philosophical traditions on a specific topic, as well as the differences and similarities between these traditions' predominant motives in addressing the topics. That is, this dictionary makes a concerted effort to be truly a dictionary of world philosophy, a conception under which all-philosophical traditions, be they Chinese, European, or Indian, are treated on a par with each other. The reader should accordingly expect the entries to include more cultural and widely historical commentary than that found in other dictionaries of philosophy.

Also, some distinctions (e.g. between philosophy and religion or between metaphysics and epistemology) are quite sharply drawn in what has come to be called Western philosophy, i.e. philosophy significantly tracing back to the Greco‑Roman world and predominantly practiced in France, Germany, Great Britain, the United States, and their geographical areas of influence on the planet, e.g. Australia and New Zealand, and Latin America. By contrast, the said distinctions are not so sharply, if at all, drawn in other philosophical traditions, say, those in India, China, and even in areas where Western philosophy is the majority tradition, as made plain, for example, by Navajo thought in the United States, and Maori thought in New Zealand. Accordingly, readers should expect the entries to include more discussion of religious, social, or other topics, as well as more combined discussions of more than one area of Western philosophy, than that found in primarily or exclusively Western‑influenced dictionaries of philosophy.

These differences in philosophical approaches and, generally, ways of thinking are understandably correlated with the ‑ often sharply different ‑ histories and social‑life structures of the traditions in question. It is crucial to keep them in mind when comparing philosophical traditions from different cultures. One such cultural difference, for example, is described by the Japanese historian H. Paul Varley in discussing the Japanese director Ozu Yasuhiro's focus on the conflict between the traditional and the modern in the Japanese family:

Social pressures today... are much less severe; but the domestic dilemma remains, with giri often taken to mean the demands of the traditional Japanese family and ninio the pull of modern ways.

To understand why this should represent a specially Japanese, rather than universal problem, we must note that there are few analogues to the Japanese family and the enormous importance it continues to hold in Japanese society. It is simply a fact ...that the Japanese are overwhelmingly group‑oriented: they work in groups, they play in groups, they seem happiest in groups. Such extraordinary feeling for collective behavior has its origin in the family, and any rejection of, or failure to conform to, the family raises for the Japanese the most serious questions about his role in society as a whole.

The differences between East Asian and Western cultures are not simply a matter of social preferences. A wide range of current studies indicate that, for example, reasoning in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures focuses more on relations among objects and the context in which they interact, while reasoning in Western cultures focuses more on general, context‑independent categories and predominantly uses formal logic.' Recent memory studies indicate that East Asians attend to background and global aspects of an image, while Westerners focus on a few discrete objects. Also, in thinking about opposing views, East Asians seek to retain elements of each in a middle way, while members of Western cultures try to establish which view is correct and discard the others.

Equally significant ‑ though by no means the same ‑ points of difference can be made between social features of predominant European or English‑speaking North American cultures on the one hand, and social features of African, Chinese, Indian, Latin American, Maori, Native American, and other cultures, on the other hand. Indeed, though perhaps not always so sharp, differences can be found within any of the groups just listed, and these are reflected in their various philosophical traditions.

As for Western cultures, significant differences are found between them. In fact, recent studies indicate that different Western spelling systems, and possibly other culture‑specific ways of organizing knowledge, significantly influence readers' strategies for decoding texts and even the brain functions they use in doing so. For example, in Italian, written letters almost always correspond to consistent sounds; while in English they do not: think of learning to read such similarly spelled, yet very differently pronounced, words as cough, dough, and tough. A team of Italian and British neuroscientists has recently found that, in decoding Italian text, English readers take much longer to begin reading than Italian readers. This is associated with the reading strategies used by each group. Italian readers simply match written letters to corresponding sounds, while English readers use additional strategies. These differences are reflected in the brain functions used. The Italians' matching of written letters to corresponding sounds is an activity carried out in one area of the brain network, i.e. the area concerning reading comprehension. By contrast, in decoding English text, English readers primarily use two areas of that network, both different from that used by Italians.

One should accordingly keep in mind these cultural and related ‑ some quite unexpected ‑ differences when dealing, as this dictionary does, with the concepts and philosophical traditions found in world philosophy.

The comprehensive aims of the present work, together with the aim of producing a manageable dictionary, led to some difficult decisions. One concerned the manner in which information about philosophers should be presented. The decision was that the present work should be a dictionary of terms, and information about philosophers should be introduced to the extent it is relevant to the terms used as entries. Thus, the biographical information to be found here is no substitute for that to be found in a full-fledged encyclopedia of philosophy or in a biographical dictionary of philosophers. Though often substantial, biographical information provided in the present dictionary is not the primary concern. The dictionary focuses on terms and the conceptual, theoretical, factual, and related matters they involve.

When needed and feasible, etymological information was included, both at the beginning of most entries and in the text following them. In providing such information about words derived from the Greek, sometimes the infinitive is given, while other times the first‑person present indicative is given. This was largely dictated by the practices of the sources used and by the way in which the readers' needs seemed best served in each case.

As regards transliteration, all terms from non‑roman alphabets have been romanized in the present dictionary. Diacritical marks have been used according to current predominant conventions. When conventions conflict, those have been followed - typically simple ones - that appear likely to help a wider readership.

The same concern with meeting the widely ranging needs of a varied readership ‑ from scholars to students pursuing their inquiries in different places or languages on earth ‑ has been used to select the works cited at the end of the entries. That is, without disregarding the need to cite standard works, as needed, the dictionary cites recent publications, or works published in places or languages of direct interest to the entries.

This concern with meeting the needs of the dictionary's readership is also the ground for the dictionary's extensive cross‑referencing. Dummy entries are listed accompanied with one or more entries where they are discussed. In the actual entries, cross‑references appear typically in SMALL CAPS. Additionally, italic type has been used in many instances: as emphasis for terms being introduced, or which have etymological or theoretical significance, or because they are works being cited, or because the use of italics is likely to help readers.

The Philosopher's Index Thesaurus by Kelly Moore Broughton (Philosophy Documentation Center) This revised edition has been updated for use by researchers and reference librarians who have questions about the organization and content of The Philosopher's Index database. It contains a summary of indexing policies, a cross-referenced list of subject descriptors, lists of abbreviations and frequently named persons, as well as hints for effective searching.

The Philosopher's Index is a bibliographic database with informative author-written abstracts covering scholarly research in the fifteen fields of philosophy, published in journals and books since 1940. 80% of the records are taken from journal articles, with the remaining 20% taken from books and contributions to anthologies. Over 480 journals are covered, from 38 countries. The database cites works in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese. It also includes complete coverage of international articles from anthologies and books written in English and other languages. Topics include all major fields of philosophy, including Aesthetics, Epistemology, Ethics, Logic (including mathematics), Metaphysics (including philosophy of mind, existentialism, and phenomenology), Political philosophy (including philosophy of law), Social philosophy, and the Philosophy of Education, History, Language, Science and Religion.

Contents: Preface, Subjects Covered, Scope, Indexing Policies, Hints for Effective, Searching, Contacting The Philosopher's Index, Abbreviations Used for Journal Dates, Abbreviations of Periodicals Indexed, Frequently Named Persons, Descriptors and Terms

Library of Congress Subject Headings in Philosophy: A Thesaurus edited by Barbara L. Berman (Philosophy Documentation Center ) This thesaurus has been compiled for use by librarians, philosophers, and information professionals interested in the application of a standard set of subject terms to philosophical literature. Library of Congress Subject Headings in Philosophy lists main terms; provides cross-references to broader, narrower, and related terms; and includes an extensive listing of ethnic, national, and religious philosophies. This work will facilitate philosophical research in libraries using the Library of Congress classification system, and will be of value to anyone searching U.S. library catalogs online.
About the author: Barbara Berman is the Collection Development Librarian in Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. She is also a member of the Subject Analysis Committee of the American Library Association's Cataloguing and Classification Division, and the Chair of the ALA's Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Studies discussion group.

ROUTELEDGE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY (10 Volume Set) by Edward Craig (Editor), Luciano Floridi ($2495.00, hardcover, boxed edition, Routledge; ISBN: 0415073103)

In this 10-volume set is the largest philosophical encyclopedia to be produced in English in nearly a century. There is nothing to compare to it in scope or execution since James Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics at the turn of the century. However the   ROUTELEDGE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY is more focused upon Western topics of philosophy but it also attempts to encompass a truly global perspective by including not only the recognized fields of Western philosophical thought but also traditional metaphysics and theology and religious studies. Islam is at last freed of its Aristotelian and Platonic ghetto and autonomous strains of Iranian and Islamic Indian thought are at last recognized. Mystical philosophy is also given a fair hearing, one denied by the Paul Edwards’ Encyclopedia of Philosophy of 1968. It was dominated by analytic thought. The more electic views of philosophy in this new massive work shows some fuzzy areas in the effort for inclusiveness. The multiculturalism does make for strange bedfellows, though at last we have postcolonial encyclopedia that reflects some the the complexity of world philosophy. Efforts made by the editors to create a uniform general level of presentation, no mean task given the 1,300 contributors, shows some promise. We have not yet been able to examine the volumes closely, though we plan to shortly. We will update this review in increments as we examine the volumes. Needless-to-say a more analytical assessment of this ten volume work will take some months to produce. It is an institutional necessity to acquire the ROUTELEDGE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY as soon as budgets allow.

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