I am a math/logic student who has taken your standard basic intro to philosophy course.

I skimmed AC Grayling's Philosophy 1 and 2 books and they are logically rigorous and concise overviews of an entire branch of philosophy per chapter.

But they are from 1995 and 1998, so I am looking for a contemporary version.

  • 2
    Philosophy does not move at lightning speed, Grayling's book is still pretty contemporary. And elementary texts of this sort would not go into recent developments anyway. But "logically rigorous and concise" is not necessarily a virtue in philosophy.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 22:26
  • "But "logically rigorous and concise" is not necessarily a virtue in philosophy" I'm struggling to think of an example when it wouldn't be? Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 22:34
  • @DanielPrendergast Logical rigor is not very useful in ethics or aesthetics (or even speculative metaphysics), and philosophical depth and fruitfulness do not go well with brevity, think of Kant or Hegel.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 0:14
  • @Conifold Commit them then to the flames.
    – janeji393
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 7:19
  • @Conifold Logical rigour is highly useful in Ethics. Just because it's ethics doesn't mean you just abandon logical arguments and the notion of validity etc and just try to feel your way to the truth. Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


The "very short introductions" may be what you are looking for. They cover topics in philosophy. Here is Wikipedia's description:

Very Short Introductions (VSI) are a book series published by the Oxford University Press (OUP). The books are concise introductions to particular subjects, intended for a general audience but written by experts. Most are under 200 pages long. While authors may present personal viewpoints, the books are meant to be "balanced and complete" as well as thought provoking.

Two other sources to keep in mind are the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Although these are not all in one book, they are short and give you exposure to more than one author.

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, August 22). Very Short Introductions. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:48, September 10, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Very_Short_Introductions&oldid=912030519


Conifold is so right. Philosophy doesn't date so quickly as works in most other subjects.

So Grayling 1 is ok though the quality does swing a bit from chapter to chapter. You might also want to consider :

The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy) by Nicholas Bunnin and Eric Tsui–James. 2nd ed., 2002. You can look inside on Amazon under:


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