BA Philosophy

Brockhaus, Philosophie: Ideen, Denker und Begriffe [Brockhaus, Philosophy: Ideas, Thinkers and Concepts]. Ed. Hildegard Hogen for the Lexikonredaktion des Verlags F.A. Brockhaus. 2d expanded ed. Mannheim, Leipzig: Brockhaus, 2009. 479 p. ill. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-7653-0572-6: EUR 39.95 [08-1/2-084]

This reference work is an alphabetically arranged list of philosophers and philosophical concepts. Compared with the 2004 edition (see RREA 11:51) this 2009 version contains approximately 500 new headings. The entries are designed to give an introductory orientation to philosophers and their concepts. Many are supplemented with “infoboxes” in yellow highlight, which give overviews of the lives, works, and theories of important philosophers. Additional “info-boxes” provide overviews of main works of philosophy. Among the 20th-century titles given this treatment are, e.g., Sartre’s Is Existentialism Humanism?, de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, Austin’s Theory of the Speech Act, Foucault’s The Order of Things, and Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action. The work also contains a number of (somewhat arbitrarily chosen) articles on what are termed “currently controversial” topics (e.g., bioethics, gender research, artificial intelligence, spirituality, neuro-philosophy, linguistic turn). The articles include illustrations but no bibliographical references beyond titles mentioned in the text. This work is intended as a general work for the lay person. It is a useful reference work for libraries who do not serve a scholarly clientele. [tk/jc]

Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie [Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Theories of Knowledge]. Ed. Jürgen Mittelstraß and Martin Carrier. 2d rev. and extensively expanded ed. Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-476-02108-3 (complete work): EUR 799.60 [08-1/2-085]

Vol. 1. A-B. 2005. xxv, 560 p. ill. ISBN 978-3-476-01372-9

Vol. 2. C-F. 2005. xix, 600 p. ill. ISBN 978-3-476-02101-4

Vol. 3. G-Inn. 2008. xix, 620 p. ill. ISBN 978-3-476-02102-1

This second edition of the Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie is a major revision of the earlier edition, completed in 1996 (see RREA 2:80 and 3:121). The number of pages in the three volumes published so far amounts to a doubling in size compared to the first edition. The increase is due not only to the inclusion of a large number of new articles (101 new articles in volume 1 according to the forward) but also major expansion of existing entries. The article on 18th-century philosopher Johann Gottfried Hamann, for example, has been expanded from two columns in the first edition to five in the second. The text has been extensively revised with the addition of selected direct quotations from Hamann’s works and with added sections discussing Hamann in relation to critical theory ranging from Adorno and Horkheimer to Rorty and Derida. All articles include thoroughly updated bibliographic citations of primary and secondary literature. The print for these bibliographical entries is quite small and the alphabetical listings do not at first glance provide an easy overview of the literature. However the thoroughness of the bibliographical entries is a great time saver for a scholar in an initial literature search.

Changes in other articles reflect the increased attention given to deconstructivist and post-structuralist theory (new articles on Derrida and Deleuze; a revision of the Foucault entry; a new entry on gender studies). Other new entries are devoted to important contemporary thinkers such as Donald Davidson, Daniel Dennet, and Gertrude Anscombe. Some articles (such as the revised entry for essentialism) have been expanded to the point of being small treatises. This work is not intended as an introduction to philosophy for students or beginners. Like the Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie (see RREA 14:62), this is an essential reference resource that no serious scholar of philosophy can do without. [tk/jc]

Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie [Historical Dictionary of Philosophy]. Ed. Günther Bien. Basel: Schwabe. 28 cm. ISBN 978-3-7965-0115-9 (complete work): SFr. 3,400, EUR 2,380 [08-1/2-086]

Vol. 11. U-V. 2001.1276 cols. ISBN 3-7965-0702-6: SFr. 330, EUR 198

Vol. 12. W-Z. 2004. 1556 cols. ISBN 3-7965-0115-X: SFr. 368, EUR 257.50

Vol. 13. Index. Ed. Margarita Kranz. With full-text CD-ROM of the complete work. 2007. xviii p. 1046 cols. ISBN 978-3-7965-2050-1: SFr. 420, EUR 295

Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie. 13 vols, 1971-2007. Ed. Joachim Ritter, Karlfried Gründer, and Gottfried Gabriel. Basel: Schwabe, 2007. 1 CD-ROM + Supplement, 15, 3 p. [08-1/2-087]

The Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie is a multi-volume dictionary of the history of philosophical concepts. With the three concluding print volumes and the CD-ROM this gigantic reference work, whose first volume appeared in 1971, is now complete. It is the successor to the Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe [Dictionary of Philosophical Concepts] by Rudolf Eisler (4th ed. Berlin, 1927-1930), and its methodological approach is based on the principles of Begriffsgeschichte (history of concepts). In contrast to systematically oriented dictionaries that merely provide definitions and explanations of concepts, this methodology attempts to make explicit the historical evolution of philosophical concepts. Using direct quotations from relevant works, its aim is to trace changes in meaning and usage of concepts from their earliest occurrences to the present. The lexicon demonstrates for example, that Aristotle’s understanding of freedom, or of the state, is very different from that of Kant or Hobbes or Popper, while the article on “wit” traces the change in usage from its earlier meaning of “the faculty of understanding” to its currently more restricted usage referring to humor, whereby the philosophical aspects of the term are lost.

The concluding parts of this work are two text volumes (for the letters U-Z: Übel-Zynismus), the index volume to the complete work, and a CD-ROM, containing the full text of all print volumes. As in the preceding volumes each heading provides a highly detailed, historical discussion of each concept, incorporating direct citations whenever possible, with extensive supporting footnotes and bibliographies. Under the heading Vernunft/Verstand [Reason/Understanding], for example, which covers 125 columns, 20 authors discuss this concept with all its changes and nuances of meaning over the course of Western intellectual history. In selecting headings a broadly interdisciplinary approach has been used. Many concepts are included that would not be found in a standard philosophical lexicon, including those from psychology, theology, religious studies, cultural studies, political science, and legal studies. Also included are articles on concepts whose relationship to philosophy is not immediately apparent, or which today are used in other disciplines and contexts, but which contribute to understanding of developments in philosophy (e.g., exuberance, environment, usurpation, vagueness, anger, day dream). The focus of this work is the Western philosophic tradition, but important concepts of other cultural traditions (e.g., the concept of time in China and India) are also included.

The index volume is in three sections. In a “subject-group” section every main heading is arranged in at least one of 47 general categories, as a way of showing broad relationships among the article headings. The extensive main index includes all keyword headings with references to concepts and terms that do not have their own entries but are discussed within larger articles. Main article headings also include secondary references (given in cursive) to other main articles on related subjects. An author index lists all authors and their contributions.

The CD-ROM accompanying the index volume contains the complete text of the print volumes (including the printed index volume), and incorporates all the corrections in the printed supplements. The software is powerful and user-friendly, and allows full text-searching, book-marking, text manipulation, and export. There is also a special search for quick access to article headings. Advanced search features allow filtering of search results.

With these final volumes a gigantic undertaking, which extended over 36 years with four different editors, has been completed. The work spans nearly 10,000 pages and contains ca. 6,000 articles discussing 3,670 concepts. The 1,500 contributors include many whose subject expertise is not limited to philosophy. In a work spanning so many years there is an inevitable loss of currency for earlier volumes, and supplements to these volumes would be highly desirable. Nevertheless the work is an impressive achievement whose importance can scarcely be overstated. The broadly interdisciplinary approach and historical breadth of its articles make this a resource whose usefulness is not limited to scholars of philosophy. It is an essential, fundamental lexical resource for philosophical scholarship and for humanities studies in general. [mbe/jc]

Metzler-Lexikon Philosophie: Begriffe und Definitionen [Metzler Dictionary of Philosophy: Concepts and Definitions]. Ed. Peter Prechtl and Franz-Peter Burkard. 3d expanded and updated ed. Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler, 2008. xv, 705 p. 24 cm. (Previous title: Metzler-Philosophie-Lexikon.) ISBN 978-3-476-02187-8: EUR 29.95 [08-1/2-088]

With an additional 20 pages of text this third edition represents only a slight expansion and updating of the second edition of 1999 (see RREA 6:70). It contains entries only for philosophical concepts, since Metzler has a companion publication for philosophers (Metzler-Philosophen-Lexikon. 3d ed. 2003). Its topical entries are, however, content-rich and informative. Brief bibliographical entries in each article are intended as a starting point for further research. No single reference work can cover all aspects of or approaches to a topic such as philosophy. However this title is a tried and tested reference work in this field and is a good alternative for both students and scholars who cannot acquire more in-depth works, such as the Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie (see RREA 14:61) or the Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie (see RREA 14:63). [tk/jc]

Philosophisches Wörterbuch [Philosophical Dictionary]. Alois Halder and Max Müller. Rev. new ed. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2008. 448 p. 21 cm. (Herder-Spektrum, 5967). ISBN 978-3-451-05967-4: EUR 19.90 [08-1/2-089]

This work was first published in 1958. For the latest edition the existing entries have been reviewed, the bibliographies updated, and additional entries included. There are headings both for concepts and for personal names. The personal name entries give a general introductory orientation to each figure. For some of the less important philosophers the entries are so brief (consisting of birth and death dates and a brief summary of their philosophical themes, sometimes in a single sentence) that their usefulness is very limited. In some cases the bibliographies (in a separate section at the end of the book) are longer than the entries themselves. A considerable number of important contemporary philosophers are omitted (e.g., Hilary Putnam, Donald Davidson, Richard Rorty, John Rawls), while several philosophers in the Catholic tradition, whose works are of mainly historical interest, are included. This gives a somewhat distorted picture of the current state of philosophy. Although it is useful to include philosophers who are underrepresented in contemporary discourse, this should have been made clear in the introduction. The strength of the work lies in the topical articles, although for some students the discussions may be too abstract. [tk/jc]

Lexikon der Ethik [Dictionary of Ethics]. Ed. Otfried Höffe and Maximilian Forschner. 7th, newly rev. and enlarged ed. München: Beck, 2008. 379 p. 19 cm. (Becksche Reihe, 152). ISBN 978-3-406-56810-7: EUR 14.95 [08-1/2-090]

The sixth edition of this lexicon received a positive review in IFB (04-1-090) upon its publication in 2002. Now, six years later, it has been issued in a further revised and enlarged edition. Its place among the standard reference works for its subject remains firm, and it continues to be an important reference not only for students and teachers of philosophy, but for all readers with an interest in ethics. In keeping with the growth of discussion in this field in recent years, a significant number of new articles have been added, such as applied ethics, civic virtue, intergenerational justice, lifestyles, political particularism, business ethics, and mutuality. The number of cross-references has also increased, improving the work’s usability. Bibliographies have been expanded and updated to the year 2007. Non-Western ethical systems are treated only in broad terms, a problem that the editor acknowledges. In line with the criticism expressed in IFB’s previous review, the list of reference works in the field of ethics has been expanded. Oddly, one work that is missing from this list is the Handbuch Ethik published by Metzler (see IFB 04-1-089), a more comprehensive work that provides more information on the current state of research on various ethical questions. [tk/crc]

Lexikon Existenzialismus und Existenzphilosophie [Lexicon of Existentialism and Existential Philosophy]. Ed. Urs Thurnherr and Anton Hügli. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2007. 348 p. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-534-16331-1: EUR 79.90 [08-1/2-091]

This lexicon of existential concepts treats roughly 100 topics but lacks a handy contents listing, nor is there a more detailed, analytic index. Given the thematic structuring of the contents, a personal name index would also have been welcome, since it would have provided an approach by philosopher. The 2005 Wörterbuch der phänomenologischen Begriffe (see RREA 11:61) goes into much greater detail, although the choice of terminology often varies from that found in the Lexikon Existenzialismus und Existenzphilosophie. The question arises whether the elusive concept of existentialism is best approached by the thematic lexicon format, or whether instead, as hinted by the editors themselves in the introduction, a “selected readings” approach, offered also in e-book format, would have been more conducive to the subject. One hopes that the readable, informative and text-associated introductions found here will be optimized in a future edition through a better means of presentation. [ar/rlk]

Wörterbuch der philosophischen Metaphern [Dictionary of Philosophical Metaphors]. Ed. Ralf Konersmann. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2007. 571 p. 28 cm. ISBN 978-3-534-18820-8: EUR 99.90 [08-1/2-093]

Konersmann has assembled here a stimulating compendium of metaphors often encountered in the context of philosophical discourse, not to mention within linguistic and literary scholarship. He introduces the publication as a work not only for scholars but also for the “linguistically interested” public. Not surprisingly, given the nature of this dictionary, its entries make no claim to exhaustiveness or organization into any systematic framework. However, the decision to restrict the number of articles to the round number of 40 is hardly convincingly argued. These are arranged alphabetically, and the inclusion of a critical apparatus and bibliography in each article is welcome. An index of metaphors is included which indeed exceeds by far the 40, providing welcome cross-referencing. It is unfortunate that a name index is lacking, which would have been especially helpful to the user interested in the relation of metaphors to particular persons. Despite these shortcomings, this dictionary will be useful to those working in the humanities and cultural studies. No liberal arts library collection should be without it. [tk/rlk]

Handbuch der politischen Philosophie und Sozialphilosophie [Handbook of Political Philosophy and Social Philosophy]. Ed. Stefan Gosepath. 2 vols. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2008. xi, 1569 p. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-11-017408-3: EUR 158 [08-1/2-096]

The editor has assembled here 361 alphabetically arranged articles on concepts, themes, problems, and persons (both contemporary and historical), written by scholars representing a wide spectrum of political and philosophical perspectives. Crossreferences to related articles from within the articles would have been nice but were presumably left out because of the inclusion of name and topical indexes. In the case of articles on persons, a primary and selective secondary bibliography is provided. This is a successful, well-grounded, reliably informative work covering a wide-ranging field. It has fulfilled the goal of presenting a scholarly treatment of contemporary political and social philosophy. [tk/rlk]

Platon-Lexikon: Begriffswörterbuch zu Platon und der platonischen Tradition [Plato Lexicon: A Dictionary of Plato’s Concepts and Those of the Platonic Tradition]. Ed. Christian Schäfer. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2007. 408 p. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-534-17434-8: EUR 79.90, EUR 49.90 (members’ price) [08-1/2-116]

Dictionaries dedicated to the thought of a particular philosopher can look back on a long tradition. The work reviewed here has a number of worthy predecessors, foremost among them Friedrich Ast’s Lexicon Platonicum from 1835. This work was produced by Christian Schäfer, who occupies the chair of Christian Philosophy at the University of Munich. Plato’s concepts are listed alphabetically under their German word forms. Unfortunately, for the sake of “wider readership,” the corresponding Greek terms (which are printed following the German entry word and also occur within the entries themselves) are not printed in Greek type, but only transliterated into the Latin alphabet–a disservice to those readers who do know Greek, and a missed opportunity to interest users in learning more about the Greek language.

The lexicon’s introduction offers an excellent explication of the difficulties inherent in attempting to capture Plato’s thought through mere definitions of terms. Schäfer’s original plan was to include all of Neoplatonism in his scope, but he was realized that this would be unmanageable. Instead, he attempts to integrate the “Platonic tradition” into his work by adding to almost every article a summarizing paragraph on the “tradition,” in which he concentrates on the “most important representatives of Platonism in pagan Greek civilization.” Among the bibliographies there is a separate listing of all primary texts, i.e. all the classical texts cited in the lexicon. There is also an index of all Plato citations, but unfortunately it does not include citations of authors other than Plato, for example Plotinus.

The individual articles do a praiseworthy job of introducing the reader to Plato’s conceptual world and contain well-balanced explications of those topics that are especially controversial in Plato scholarship, such as the question of Plato’s views on oral vs. written communication and the question of whether there was such a thing as “unwritten lessons” (ungeschriebene Lehre) in Plato’s circle. If scholarship has not yet reached a consensus on a particular topic, this is clearly mentioned. The articles contain many helpful cross-references, and the bibliographical sections offer a comprehensive yet well-chosen overview of the massive literature on Plato. It is good to see that the older scholarly literature still merits inclusion here, so that one is not confronted solely with the most recent scholarship (as is sometimes the case in works of this type).

Scholars in all fields who have an interest in philosophy will find this work useful. Two useful supplements to it are: the Wörterbuch der antiken Philosophie (see RREA 10:56), which provides information on the Greek schools of philosophy aside from Plato; and Grundbegriffe der antiken Philosophie (Stuttgart, 2000), which offers orientations to the concepts of modern philosophy. [tk/crc]

Kleines Werklexikon Platon [Concise Lexicon of Plato’s Works]. Michael Erler. Stuttgart: Kröner, 2007. 131 p. 19 cm. (Kröner-Taschenbuch, 502). ISBN 978-3-520-50201-8: EUR 8.90 [08-1/2-119]

Michael Erler, the author of this lexicon, teaches Classical Greek at Würzburg and is also the author of the impressive new article on Plato in the current edition of Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie (commonly known as Ueberweg). This slim volume offers the concentrated essence of the much longer and more comprehensive Ueberweg article and clearly profits greatly from the intensive research Mr. Erler undertook for the writing of that article.

The lexicon offers brief information on the entire Corpus Platonicum, including those works now classed as spurious or dubious, giving a good picture of what were once considered to be Plato’s complete works. Letters are included as well, although only the seventh of these is now thought to be authentic. The lexicon offers a brief biography of Plato, an overview of the Corpus Platonicum, a tentative chronology of Plato’s works, some remarks on the transmission of texts, and bibliographic citations for works editions, German translations, and the general scholarly literature on Plato. There is also a glossary of important concepts, followed by indexes of names, subjects, and titles.

Under each of the listed works Erler includes citations for several editions as well as for selected commentaries and scholarly studies. The lexicon is intended more for students with a general interest in philosophy or ancient history; Plato experts will find their needs met by the Ueberweg article mentioned above. It is good to see that the bibliography cites scholarly articles written not only in German and English, but also those in French and Italian as well—much important Plato research is being conducted in these two languages. A beginning student of Plato will find this book to be a helpful and reliable aid. [tk/crc]

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Last update: April 2011 [LC]
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