Doing Philosophy Book Summary By Timothy Williamson

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Doing Philosophy, a book written by renowned philosopher Lucas Thorpe in 2018, dispels the myths around philosophy that continue to linger.

It explores why philosophy is still relevant and influential today despite the ascendancy of the natural sciences.

The book examines some of the most pressing questions facing us as individuals, societies and civilizations – such as how we should live an ethical life, how our reason shapes our world-views and what derives fundamental values.

Its strength lies in its ability to bridge traditional philosophical analysis with modern Neuroscience insights and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy strategies.

Do not to be fooled by its daunting topics, Doing Philosophy makes them accessible for everyone with clear writing and well-crafted arguments.

Doing Philosophy Book

Book Name: Doing Philosophy (From Common Curiosity To Logical Reasoning)

Author(s): Timothy Williamson

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 26 Minutes

Categories: Philosophy

Author Bio

Timothy Williamson is a renowned figure in the academic world, having dedicated his life to the study of philosophy.

As a professor of logic at Oxford University and current A.

Whitney Greenwold Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, Timothy Williamson has achieved much success in the field.

He has published several books over the years, many of which have been translated into other languages – quite an accomplishment!

He's also earned exceptional praise through his contributions to major publications such as The Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times, just to name a few.

In addition, he has held several distinguished positions over the years and continues to be prolific in his research and writings today.

Exploring The Relevance Of Philosophy Today: Zombies, Chess, And Computers


Studying philosophy is not only valuable as an academic exercise — it can also provide practical insights on how to think better and communicate more effectively.

In this book, readers will learn how to glean insights from modern philosophy that will help them refine their thinking and sharpen their tongues.

Along the way, they’ll get a better understanding of what philosophy is today, the importance of philosophy in our world, and tips for becoming a clearer thinker and more articulate speaker.

They’ll find out about the ideas that have made an impact on modern science, such as zombies teaching us about the human mind or medieval philosophers playing chess-like debates.

Plus, they’ll explore how philosophers have helped shape the development of computers.

By mastering these philosophical skills, readers can gain special insight into themselves and those around them.

Philosophy And Science: Two Disciplines, One Pursuit Of Truth

It’s easy to look at philosophy and science as two different things in competition with each other, but that isn’t really an accurate portrayal.

For most of European history, there was no distinction between the two and people who studied nature were referred to as “natural philosophers”.

In fact, scientists and philosophers have many overlapping concerns and interests, such as exploring the nature of space and time.

The divide between the two disciplines only began to form during the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, which is when science developed into a separate field of study.

This led many people to assume that science had superseded philosophy—that scientists were studying real-world phenomena while philosophers spent their time pondering inconsequential questions.

But recent developments in both fields suggest that they are actually quite complementary.

Scientists may be better equipped than philosophers to answer certain questions because they use specific methods of gathering data, but there are also questions that cannot be answered by scientists alone.

For instance, scientific methods aren’t very well suited for answering a question like “Does the number seven exist?” after all, you can’t exactly observe the number seven, can you?

As we can see then, philosophy has its own unique set of interests and concerns which make it invaluable in helping us understand our world on a deeper level.

Together with science, philosophy provides us with an integrated understanding of reality that transcends mere facts and figures.

The Linguistic Turn In Philosophy And How It Helps Us Develop Deeper Understandings Of Concepts

Throughout the history of humanity, the role of philosophy has evolved in step with our changing world and the way we communicate.

One of these changes was a shift in focus from discussing phenomena in the physical world to discussing how we talk about them.

This is known as the linguistic turn, and it marks a significant milestone in philosophy’s development as an academic field.

Philosophers now use their skills to examine, clarify and critique our language.

In particular, they focus on concepts – on understanding exactly what we mean when we say something – to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations which could have far-reaching consequences.

A great example of this is when we ask whether people have free will; discussing what free will means is a first step towards arriving at an answer!

Other concepts such as “woman” can be more complex and difficult to pin down since there are so many interrelated elements that make up womanhood.

Philosophers play an essential role here too; not just providing definitions, but shining a spotlight on the complexities behind them so that sophisticated discussions can take place, recognizing all the factors involved in forming an answer or opinion.

In this way, philosophers can, through their investigations and questioning of our language use, help us become clearer communicators and challenge us to develop richer perspectives on ideas that often go beyond what meets the eye!

The Benefits Of Thought Experiments: How Imagination Helps Us Solve Philosophical Problems


Philosophers have always used their vast imaginations to help support and prove their theories.

This is done by creating powerful thought experiments that are often imaginary scenarios or stories.

An example of this can be seen in Plato’s Ring of Gyges – the mythical story of a ring that, when worn, renders its wearer invisible.

Plato used this story to explore certain moral issues in his seminal work, The Republic, invting different characters to debate the hypothetial outcomes if such a ring existed.

His aim was to ascertain whether people would act morally without fear of punishment if they owned such a ring – an issue that doesn’t rely on the reality or fictionality of the story itself.

David Chalmers employed a philosophical zombie as an opposite example – supposeding what humans might be like without conscious experiences – to disprove his predecessor’s theory linking conscious experience with physical processes typically found in brains.

The power of the imagination is essential for producing thoughtful thought experiments and it isn’t simply consigned to realm of creative fiction either.

It is something we use constantly everyday – from assessing different routes before climbing a cliff face to predicting events and recognizing patterns- it enables us to properly evaluate possible scenarios and make decisions based on them more effectively than trial and error alone ever could.

Therefore, for philosophers it allows them to create these imaginative scenarios that help defend and justify their theories effectively.

The Ancient Art Of Philosophical Argumentation: Debating With Etiquette And Emphasis On Truth

Philosophers have a history of engaging in debate to refine and strengthen their theories.

This is done through a rigorous process of argumentation, which requires the philosophers to defend their ideas against each other’s attacks.

By doing this, it forces both parties to revise and modify their assumptions and make them stronger in the face of opposing arguments.

In order to ensure that the argumentation remains fair, rhetoric is often limited in philosophical debates.

Rather than relying on flowery language or trying to persuade others with charisma alone, philosophers use evidence and reasoning as support for their claims.

They also concentrate their efforts on targeting each others’ ideas rather than personal attacks if things get heated.

The medieval game of obligationes exemplified this form of debate by enforcing strict rules that had to be abided by in order for the debate to be successful.

If these rules were followed correctly, then whoever was able to convince the other speaker of their truth would be on the side of truth itself.

By engaging in philosophical debates, philosophers can sharpen and solidify their theories in light of opposition while keeping true to ethics while doing so.

It’s an essential part of what makes philosophy so effective – allowing scholars to defend their beliefs with well-developed evidence and sound logic ensures that ideas are being discussed fairly rather than simply relying on rhetoric alone.

Philosophers Cast Doubt In Order To Motivate Intellectual Growth

What is essential to the philosophical idea? Doubting.

When advocates of this style of thought cast doubt on certain facts or beliefs, it’s not just for fun.

In fact, many times it proves to be an indispensable tool for the growth and spread of knowledge.

Take david Hume’s skepticism surrounding whether one can be sure that the sun will rise tomorrow.

This ‘radical’ questioning forces people to examine what they take for granted and find more evidence.

His problem-posing approach has been adopted by philosophers around the world throughout time in order to challenge presumptions usually taken as immutable truths.

The ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates is a great example of this – famously uttering “all I know is that I know nothing”.

While this statement has often been oversimplified and misused as embodying all of philosophies there’s actually more to it.

By questioning theories, Socrates was able to make progress and progress while fostering dialogue between himself and his students which led to insightful conclusions that are still used today!

In short, it’s useful for philosophers – both now and in the past such as rené Descartes – to doubt assumptions usually taken for granted because doing so promotes discussion and improvement.

As a result, a clearer understanding about our place in the world is presented that serves everyone both individually and collectively!

How Philosophy Has Made Impactful Contributions To Science And Technology

Science And Technology

Contrary to popular belief, philosophy does indeed make progress, just as any other science makes progress.

The 20th century, especially, saw some of the most significant developments in philosophy, such as the introduction of classical logic – a system that would go on to form the basis for all computer programming languages.

Logicians then extended the principles of classical logic further by adding new rules and Alan Turing developed the concept of a ‘universal computing machine’ – a theoretical device with underlying principles that formed the foundations of computers as we know them today.

Philosophy has made great strides forward in recent years and will continue to do so in years to come – its scientific credentials are undeniable!

Philosophers Have Much In Common With Scientists: The Rigor Of Their Methodology

When most people hear the words “science” and “philosophy,” they tend to think of two extremes, with scientists doing experiments and philosophers sitting in their armchairs and pontificating.

However, the truth is that philosophers and scientists have far more in common than one might expect.

Mathematicians, for instance, come up with conclusions in their office chairs, but no one would deny that their results are based on sound scientific methods.

Philosophers also work hard to make sure that their conclusions are backed by rigorous logical arguments and thought experiments.

This means that regardless of when or where someone repeats a given argument, they should arrive at the same result.

Moreover, many of the same tools are used by both philosophers and natural scientists.

In some cases these include interpretations of data produced via an experiment – but thought experiments also feature prominently in science too!

For example, Galileo Galilei famously crafted a thought experiment about weightless objects being thrown off towers to disprove a widely-believed notion about heavier items falling faster than lighter items.

In short, philosophy shares many of its methods with the natural sciences, from interpretations of data to repeating logical arguments no matter where they’re executed.

And if one is considered a true science then so ought to be the other!

The Dangers Of Over-Reliance On The History Of Philosophy In Modern Times

Philosophy has been preoccupied with its own history for far too long.

Now, it’s all too common to see philosophy departments and professors caught up in the history of philosophy more than anything else– spending entire careers studying a single thinker, like Nietzsche, who fathered yet another legion of scholars asking questions like “what did he mean by ‘the eternal return?’”

This preoccupation with the past is a threat to the scientific ambitions of philosophy.

When philosophers focus on the historical development of ideas rather than making progressive steps within a discipline, the results are decidedly underwhelming.

It’s true that it can be useful to go back to the roots of an idea in order to analyze its origin, but it shouldn’t prevent us from making advancements in our understanding.

The truth is that progress usually only comes when we step out of our comfort zone and engage with other developments taking place outside our discipline.

In other words, progress often comes when we cross-pollinate between different fields– something which should give philosophy an advantage due to its expansive scope.

This is why some of the most intellectually stimulating work being done today happens in departments beyond those dedicated solely to philosophy!

How Philosophy Draws On Disciplines To Challenge Assumptions And Make Big Discoveries


At its core, philosophy is about questioning our assumptions and fundamentals.

Disciplines within science may not be as dedicated to this kind of inquiry as philosophy is, but every subject does engage in philosophical methods from time to time.

When economists want to better understand what it means for someone to act rationally or challenge the assumption that agents always act according to rational guidelines, they turn to philosophical inquiries.

Even quantum physics makes an foray into philosophical territory when attempting to question the validity of logical laws in different contexts.

When discoveries are made in a particular field have a deep impact on traditional philosophical thought, this can also suggest that a certain degree of philosophical labour has been invested in the project as well.

One of the most renowned examples here is evolutionary theory; by introducing concepts such as relatedness and change over time into the discussion around humanity and life overall, it upended traditional philosophical ideas about these matters.

It’s clear that each discipline has its own brand of philosophy, which sometimes even takes on a new name or form.

However, we should never overlook the significance of foundational questions and basic premises that underpin all scientific subjects – including those usually described as such – because at their core lies philosophy.

Wrap Up

Doing Philosophy Book Summary’s main message is that philosophy is a science in its own right and should not be seen as being in competition with the natural sciences.

It’s an analytical field of inquiry and has distinct logical laws that guide our reasoning.

The actionable advice given in this book to help readers sharpen their logical thinking skills suggests they take one of their beliefs and try to challenge it by finding two or three potential flaws in it, considering rebuttals, and ultimately making a reasoned decision about the belief.

Overall, Doing Philosophy Book Summary serves up a eloquently simple yet powerful lesson on how to think more critically — one that offers endless returns for those who put in the effort.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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