What is the ideal text for the professors and students of modern philosophy classes? I can discern at least five essential criteria: it is one that is inexpensive; it contains up-to-date, accurate, and easily readable translations; where possible, it also contains clear, concise summaries of the material to aid in the absorption of the material; it contains engaging biographic that helps situate the thinker within a context and explain his motivations; and, finally, it contains all of the works necessary to teach the class, and more, if necessary, to further explain the context. I know of no English-language modern philosophy collection that better meets these criteria than the Ariew and Watkins anthology.
It is significantly less expensive than any of its other most likely competitors. . . . The selections are outstanding. What the other anthologies seem to forget is that, until the mid-eighteenth century, physics was natural philosophy, and so the writings of Boyle, Newton, and Galileo are equally deserving of inclusion within a philosophical anthology from the early modern period. This is not lost on Ariew and Watkins.
[W]hile collections like Baird and Kaufmann are comparable in breadth, none of them can quite match Ariew and Watkins due to their inclusion of the natural philosophers. Add to that the inclusion, in this second addition, of more works by Newton, Berkeley, Hume, and Reid. and the superiority of Ariew's and Watkins's choices for this selection becomes all the more evident.
The highlights of this collection are the text summaries. . . . [They] range from extremely helpful to, without hyperbole, breathtaking. For instance, the description of Descartes' Meditations as a diptych was enough to make me want to reread this classic.
I applaud Ariew and Watkins on their second edition of this text, and for improving on what is already the industry standard for modern philosophy textbooks. They have done an excellent job of holding on to the kinds of things that worked so well in the first edition, while building on a very strong collection.--Joshua Wretzel, Department of Philosophy, Binghamton University
Roger Ariew is Professor of Philosophy, University of South Florida.
Eric Watkins is Professor of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego.