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Voices of Wisdom – 5th Edition


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Kingston – Books 3 – IMG_1128

Author: Gary E. Kessler

Publisher: Thompson/Wadsworth


Since the publication of the first edition of Voices of Wisdom, I am gratified to note that more introductory textbooks now incorporate a multicultural perspective – a perspective that was unique to this introductory reader when it was first published in 1992, At that time the introductory readers that we available treated philosophy as if was an entirely an Angelo-European male phenomenon.  Little or no attention was given to Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, African, Native American, Latin American, and feminist philosophy.  Voices of Wisdom helped to change that situation, offering, to those who wished it the possibility of assigning significant readings that represent the global nature of philosophizing.  This fifth edition continues to offer a multicultural perspective and has benefited from the teaching and learning experiences of the many instructors and students who used the previous editions.  Readers have learned that ideas from other cultures are worth careful consideration and that these ideas make important contributions to human understanding.

Philosophy in a Multicultural Perspective

Although I wish to stress the universal nature of philosophizing, I am well aware of the dangers of Anachronism.  A text of this sort not only problems associated with anachronism in the historical sense but also what we might term “cultural anachronism.”   The writings of ancient philosophers mingle with modern texts, and thinkers from different cultures from different cultures are brought together.  The student might get the impression that Plato, Buddha, Nietzsche, Confucius, Descartes, and Aristotle are all contemporaries discussing the same issues with the same concepts in English!  There are similarities.  But there are also vast differences.  Where appropriate, the important similarities and differences are stressed in my introductory remarks.

My selection of issues betrays my own Anglo-European perspective.  Whereas many of the topics are fundamental and universal (How should one live?  Is knowledge possible?  What is Really real?), their importance and centrality differ from tradition to tradition.  The mind-body problem, the puzzle of freedom and determinism, the problem of moral skepticism – these problems are not necessarily the central ones that gripped the mind of the Chinese or Indian philosophers,  Just as Anglo-European philosophers have not had much to say about Karma, Buddist thinkers have not been overly concerned with proving the existence of God.

Contents by Chapter


Chapter 1.  What is a Philosophy?

  1. A Definition of Philosophy
  2. What is Rationality?
  3. Why Study Multicultural Philosophy?
  4. Does Philosophy Bake Bread?

Bertrand Russell: On the Value of Philosophy

  1. Reading Philosophy


Chapter 2.  How Should One Live?

  1. Introduction
  2. The Buddha and the Middle Way

The Buddha:  The Four Noble Truths

Walpola Rahula:  The Fourth Noble Truth

2.3  Confucius and the Life of Virtue

D.C. Lau: Confucius and Moral Character

2.4  Socrates on Living the Examined Life        

Plato: The Apology

  1. Aristotle on Happiness and the Life of Moderation

Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

  1. The Song of God


  1. Does Life Have Meaning?

Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin: Meaning

Chapter 3.  How Can I Know What Is Right?

  1. Introduction
  2. Kant and the Categorical Imperative

Immanuel Kant:  Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

  1. Utilitarianism

John Stuart Mill: What Utilitarianism Is

3.4  Revaluation of Values.

       Frederich Nietzsche:  Beyond Good and Evil

       On the Genealogy of Morality

  1. Care versus Rights

Joy Koerger-Mappes:  The Ethic of Care vis-à-vis the Ethic of Rights

3.6  Moral Relativism

       David Wong: Relativism

Chapter 4.  What Makes a Society Just?

  1. Introduction
  2. God and Justice

Majid Khadduri:  The Islamic Conception of Justice

  1. Capitalism and Exploitation

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Manifesto of the Communist Party

  1. The Original Position

John Rawls:  A Theory of Justice

  1. Our Obligation to the State

Plato:  Crito

  1. Civil Disobedience

Martin Luther King, Jr.:  Letter from Birmingham Jail

  1. Sovereignty  and Justice:  An Indigenist’s Viewpoint

Ward Churchill:  Perversion of Justice

Chapter 5  Is Justice for All, Possible?

  1. Introduction
  2. Universal Human Rights

Rene’ Trujillo:  Human Rights in the Age of Discovery”

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  1. Racism and Feminism

bell hooks:  Ain’t I a Woman

  1. Globalization and Justice

Benjamin R. Barber:  Jihad vs McWorld

5.5  Terrorism and Mortality

Bat-Ami Bar On:  Why Terrorism Is Morally Problematic

5.6  Justice and the Land

Aldo Leopold:  The Land Ethic


Chapter 6  Is Knowledge Possible?

  1. Introduction          
  2. Sufi Mysticism

Al-Ghazali:  Deliverance from Error

  1. Is Certainty Possible?

Rene’ Descartes: Meditations I and II

  1. Empiricism and Limited Skepticism

David Hume:  An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

  1. Should We Believe Beyond the Evidence?

William K. Clifford:  The Ethics of Belief

William James:  The Will to Believe

  1. Classical Indian Epistemology

D.M. Datta:  Knowledge and the Methods of Knowledge

6.7  Afrocentric Feminist Epistemology

Patricia Hill Collins:  Toward and Afrocentric Feminist Epistemology

Chapter 7  Does Science Tell Us the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth?

7.1  Introduction

7.2  The Growth of Scientific Knowledge

Karl R Popper:  Conjectures and Refutations

  1. Scientific Revolution

Thomas S. Kuhn:  The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

  1. Feminism and Science

Elizabeth Anderson:  Knowledge, Human Interests, and Objectivity in Feminist Epistemology

  1. Japanese Views of Western Science

Thomas P. Kasulis:  Sushi, Science, and Spirituality

  1. Science and Traditional Thought

Kwame Anthony Appiah:  Old Gods, New Worlds 


Chapter 8  What is Really Real?

  1. Introduction
  2. The Dao

Laozi:  Dao De Jung

  1. Platonic Dualism

Plato:  The Republic

  1. Nondualism

Shankara:  The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination

  1. Subjective Idealism

George Berkley:  The Principles of Human Knowledge

  1. Pre-Columbian Cosmologies

Jorge Valadez:  Pre-Columbian Philosophical Perspectives

  1. So What Is Real?

Jorge Luis Borges:  The Circular Ruins


Chapter 9  Are We Free or Determined?

  1. Introduction
  2. We Are Determined

Laura Waddell Ekstrom:  Arguments for Incompatibilism

  1. We Are Free

Jean-Paul Sarter:  Existentialism

  1. Karma and Freedom

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan:  Karma and Freedom

  1. We Are Both Free and Determined

Raymond M. Smullyan:  Is God a Taoist?

Chapter 10  What Am I?

  1. Introduction
  2. You Are Your Mind

Rene’ Descartes:  Meditation VI

  1. You Are an Embodied Self

Eve Browning Cole:  Body, Mind and Gender

  1. You Are a Computing Machine

Bruce H. Hinrichs:  Computing the Mind

  1. You Are Not a Machine

John Searle:  Can Computers Think?

Chapter 11  Who Am I?

  1. Introduction
  2. There Is No Self

The Buddha:  False Doctrines about the Soul

  1. Down with the Ego

Derek Parfit:  Divided minds and the Nature of Persons

  1. Where Am I?

Daniel Dennett:  Brainstorms

  1. Social Identity

Gloria Anzaldua:  How to Tame a Wild Tongue

  1. Gender Identity

Deirdre (Donald)  N. McLoskey: Crossing

Chapter 12   Is There a God?

  1. Introduction
  2. Arguments for God’s Existence

St. Thomas Aquinas:  The Five Ways

William Craig: The Kalam Arguments from Islam

Gunapala Dharmasiri:  Problems with the Cosmological Argument 

  1. Hinduism and Science

P. Venugopopala Rao:  Science and Dharma

12.4  Creation vs. Evolution

Richard Dawkins:  The Blind Watchmaker

  1.  The Mystery of Evil

Louis P. Poajman:  The Problem of Evil

  1.   The Gender of God

         Mary Daly:  Beyond God the Father

  1.   Are All Religions True?

John B. Cobb, Jr.:  Beyond Pluralism

Appendix I  Glossary

Appendix II  Pronunciation Guides


Paperback  570 pages  ISBN: 0-534-60570-2

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