How do Humans Think? How should we think? Almost all of philosophy and a great deal else depends in large part on the answers that we provide to such questions. Yet they are almost impossible to deal with in isolation; notions about nature of thought are almost bound to connect with metaphysical notions about where ideas come from, with notions about appropriate arenas for certainty, doubt, and belief, and hence with moral and religious ideas.
The Western tradition of thinking about thinking takes shape with Socrates; among the other important strands covered in this book are Descartes’ recipe for discovering truth through systematic doubt, Hume’s notion that all our ideas are copies of sense impressions, Wollstonecraft’s introduction of the perspective of gender into such questions, and Wittgenstein’s claim that much of the traditional terrain of Western philosophy should be thought of as the proper domain only of linguistic assertion, possessing no content beyond the words.
With each philosopher and school of thought dealt with, Govier shows how ideas about thinking connect to the other elements of the particular philosophy, and brings to life the social and intellectual context that the ideas spring from. Socrates’ Children is thus not only an investigation of notions of thinking and knowing in Western culture; it is a selective general history of much of Western philosophy, from a unique and fascinating perspective.
“…the exposition is consistently good, with much of it being insightful and illuminating.” — Canadian Book Review Annual
“a delightful book, a lively and thoroughly engaging survey of what some of the great Western philosophers have said about the nature, aims, and proper conduct of thought … a unique and worthwhile introduction to the philosophical enterprise.” — Dialogue
“Socrates’ Children is philosophically astute and written in the lively and accessible style for which Trudy Govier is justly esteemed.” — Frank Cunningham, University of Toronto