Philosophy in 7 Sentences by Douglas Groothuis


[3 minute read]

Final Verdict – 3/5 – Light read and decent introductory text

We are exposed to philosophy on a daily basis – a quote overheard at a cocktail party, a moving soliloquy in a movie, a friend’s insightful opinion, or simply when lying in bed and pondering on the purpose of your life.  Philosophical thinking is all around us, is unavoidable, and impacts us profoundly.  During times of strife or when confronted with a challenging issue we can either give in or search for answers using logic and reasoning.  This is philosophy at its best – helping us act in a way which hopefully betters our present situation.  The etymological origins of the word ‘philosophy’ come from Greek roots where ‘philo’ means love and ‘sophos’ means wisdom.  Philosophy is literally the love of wisdom.  Ergo, only a fool can dislike philosophy.

A more clinical definition of philosophy is “the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.”  Wow.  That’s a pretty broad scope of study!  I would like to add some more flavourful context to this definition and take it one step further.  You see, I view philosophy as sitting at the top of the knowledge or human consciousness pyramid.  Under philosophy comes science, theology and all the other branches of knowledge.  Why?  Refer to the definition again.  Literally everything can fall under the domain of philosophy.  That’s what I love about it – we’re all philosophers in some way (whether practical or theoretical).  Anyway, that’s just my philosophy.  Get the jist?

So if philosophy is a practical and ubiquitous subject matter which is ever-present in everything we do then why bother to read about it and where does the book “Philosophy in 7 Sentences” come into play?  Well, to answer the first question – philosophical thought is by its very nature open-ended so I would argue that the journey into it is more important than the destination (which is almost always unknown).  This short, easy-to-read, introductory book contains a solid selection of quotes from well-known philosophers, their personal biographies, as well as Groothuis’ breakdown and discussion of the quotes.  Speaking of whom, Douglas Groothuis is a professor of philosophy in the USA and is also a Christian – which lends an interesting (and very light) theological flavour to his discussions.

His book is essentially a great diving board into philosophy for those – such as myself – who are beginners when it comes to structured philosophical thought and don’t necessarily want to jump into a book which is ominously difficult or time-consuming.  My favourite of the seven quotes in this book is by Blaise Pascal – “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.”  I like it because it explains so much of the folly which we persist engaging in as fallible human beings (love, investing, big decisions in life).  Let me know which is your favourite quote and why.

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