The Philosophy Gym
By Stephen Law
Review by Maninder (Philosophy & Computer Science)
Does God exist? If so, why does evil exist? Can machines think like us? If these are the type of questions you often think about, then The Philosophy Gym by Stephen Law is a book you should definitely consider adding to your list of books-to-read! A short introduction in pertinent philosophical dilemmas, The Philosophy Gym is a great place to begin looking into the kind of arguments and counter-arguments one may come across in Philosophy.
I always thought reading about Philosophy meant reading Aristotle’s Corpus Aristotelicum, or some old-dusty book somewhere. Little did I know, Philosophy isn’t just about the arguments of those from hundreds of years ago, but is as current as ideas such as artificial intelligence and genetic modifications.
An important aspect of Philosophy that one can pick up from this book that initially baffled me, is that Philosophy is not really about the notion of developing answers to questions, or giving definitive solutions to age-old problems. Rather the crux of studying Philosophy lies in its discussions. This book pays ode to this ideology by laying out arguments and discussions in a very clear and cogent manner.
Divided into 25 chapters, each detailing 25 philosophical problems, The Philosophy Gym is very easy to follow and requires no prerequisite knowledge. One of my favourite chapters (being and Computer Science and Philosophy student and simultaneously being very interested in morality) was “Can we have morality without God?”. Here you will be able to see the conflict between the perceived notion that morality is a selfless act, e.g. if you find a £50 note on the floor, and you return in to the local authorities, that is you acting selflessly. Whereas, what Stephen Law is able to rightly question is whether that act is done in conjunction with the idea of one having a fear of God. If so, are we only behaving morally due to the fear of judgement by God and sinning? If so, is behaving morally not a selfish act? It is arguments like these that are at the base of the perplexing nature of Philosophy and what (in my opinion) make it such an exciting discipline to study.
If you’re interested in honing your own thinking and like to engage in open-ended discussions not only may this be the book for you, but also Philosophy may be a great course choice for you! Happy Reading!
The Philosophy Gym by Stephen Law