This book is inspired by a single powerful question. What is it to be great as a philosopher? No single grand answer is presumed to be possible; instead, rewardingly close studies of philosophical greatness are developed. This is a scholarly yet accessible volume, blending metaphilosophy with the long history of philosophy and traversing centuries and continents. The result is a series of case studies by accomplished scholars, each chapter trying to understand and convey a particular philosopher's greatness:
Lloyd P. Gerson on Plato
Karyn Lai on Zhuangzi
David Bronstein on Aristotle
Jonardon Ganeri on Buddhaghosa
Jeffrey Hause on Aquinas
Gary Hatfield on Descartes
Karen Detlefsen on du Chatelet
Don Garrett on Hume
Allen Wood on Kant (as a moral philosopher)
Nicholas F. Stang on Kant (as a metaphysician)
Ken Gemes on Nietzsche
Cheryl Misak on Peirce
David Macarthur on Wittgenstein
This also serves a larger philosophical purpose. Might we gain increased clarity about what philosophy is in the first place? After all, in practice we individuate philosophy partly through its greatest practitioners' greatest contributions.
The book does not discuss every philosopher who has been regarded as great. The point is not to offer a definitive list of The Great Philosophers, but, rather, to learn something about what great philosophy is and might be, from illuminated examples of past greatness.
Stephen Hetherington is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales. His publications include Epistemology's Paradox (1992), Good Knowledge, Bad Knowledge (2001), How to Know (2011), and Knowledge and the Gettier Problem (2016).
CONTENTS Preface and acknowledgements List of contributors Philosophical greatness: Introducing the very idea Stephen Hetherington Plato, Platonism, and the history of philosophy Lloyd P. Gerson Zhuangzi's suggestiveness: Sceptical questions Karyn Lai Aristotle as systematic philosopher: Essence, necessity, and explanation in theory and practice David Bronstein Attention to greatness: Buddhaghosa Jonardon Ganeri Aquinas's complex web Jeffrey Hause Descartes as a great philosopher: Comprehensive physics, mechanistic embodiment, and methodological systematicity Gary Hatfield Emilie du Chatelet on women's minds and education Karen Detlefsen What's so great about Hume? Don Garrett Is Kant a great moral philosopher? Allen Wood `How is metaphysics possible?' Kant's great question and his great answer Nicholas F. Stang Nietzsche: This time it's personal Ken Gemes What makes Peirce a great philosopher? Cheryl Misak Wittgenstein's un-ruley solution to the problem of philosophy David Macarthur