1st Edition

What Makes a Philosopher Great? Thirteen Arguments for Twelve Philosophers

Edited By Stephen Hetherington Copyright 2018
    282 Pages
    by Routledge

    282 Pages
    by Routledge

    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 Châtelet

    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.


    Preface and acknowledgements

    List of contributors

    1. Philosophical greatness: Introducing the very idea
    2. Stephen Hetherington

    3. Plato, Platonism, and the history of philosophy
    4. Lloyd P. Gerson

    5. Zhuangzi’s suggestiveness: Sceptical questions
    6. Karyn Lai

    7. Aristotle as systematic philosopher: Essence, necessity, and explanation in theory and practice
    8. David Bronstein

    9. Attention to greatness: Buddhaghosa
    10. Jonardon Ganeri

    11. Aquinas’s complex web
    12. Jeffrey Hause

    13. Descartes as a great philosopher: Comprehensive physics, mechanistic embodiment, and methodological systematicity
    14. Gary Hatfield

    15. Émilie du Châtelet on women’s minds and education
    16. Karen Detlefsen

    17. What’s so great about Hume?
    18. Don Garrett

    19. Is Kant a great moral philosopher?
    20. Allen Wood

    21. ‘How is metaphysics possible?’ Kant’s great question and his great answer
    22. Nicholas F. Stang

    23. Nietzsche: This time it’s personal
    24. Ken Gemes

    25. What makes Peirce a great philosopher?
    26. Cheryl Misak

    27. Wittgenstein’s un-ruley solution to the problem of philosophy

               David Macarthur


    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).

    "What is the difference between a merely good philosopher and a great one? Lists of the great (and usually dead) philosophers presuppose an answer to this question but it's far from obvious what the answer is. The distinguished contributors to this terrific volume advance our understanding of what great philosophy is and explain the greatness of some of the greatest philosophers."

    --Quassim Cassam, University of Warwick