I am a mathematics scholar who once took a course on "Philosophy of rationality" and absolutely loved it. In there, we discussed a couple of thought experiments including 'The Trolley Problem'. I am looking to get back into philosophy but want to start via Thought Experiments as they motivate me to read more about different philosophies. Is there a text out there which introduces philosophy via thought experiment rather than throwing big terms at you right from the beginning. Or something that introduces different philosophers /philosophies via situational examples rather than technical terms.



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Mauro Allegranza's recommendation is spot on. I would add Daniel C. Dennett's Intuition Pumps (2013) - 'intuition' refers to nothing spooky. He just means that thought experiments can generate good ideas as well as show up faults in bad ones.

As a mathematician you might enjoy Edwin Abbott's Flatland, which employs the thought experiment of a two-dimensional world.

Historically, Descartes' Meditation 1 (only about four pages) is one of the most celebrated thought experiments in the history of philosophy.

Present-day a favourite thought experiment with philosophers is Hilary Putnam's 'Brains in a vat' : https://philosophy.as.uky.edu/sites/default/files/Brains%20in%20a%20Vat%20-%20Hilary%20Putnam.pdf

Just as influential is Thomas Nagel's 'What is it like to be a bat ?' I don't think there's an online version of this but there's a good account on You Tube :


A hand of welcome from philosophy to mathematics !

  • I am currently reading Baginni's The pig that wants to be eaten and Sophie's World. It is a good book. Then I will read the ones suggested by you. thank you May 25, 2018 at 20:11

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