Ross Campbell asks:
I’m a graduate in philosophy and I wish to write a book in philosophy. The title I have in mind is “Why philosophy matters: Asking the Big Questions”. I’m looking for advice as to whether this is a good theme for a book and what topics I should include in the book. I welcome any advice. Thanks.
Answer from Craig Skinner
I applaud your ambition.
I answer as a potential reader, rather than as a writer. My own writings comprise scientific and medical papers and the occasional book chapter, and more recently, philosophy articles and editorials online. No book.
Your book sounds as if it’s intended for educated general readers. If considering buying your book, I would ask myself if it adds anything to existing titles. So I suggest you read (maybe you have) these 3 recent short books on the same theme:
Ultimate Questions (2016) Bryan Magee
What is philosophy for (2018) Mary Midgeley
What is philosophy and Why Study It? the Case for Relevance (2020) Max Malikow
Proceed if you feel you can add something or do it better.
As for title, it’s OK, a bit ho hum (yawn), Magee and Midgeley are snappier, but at least it tells us the content. Cynics of course will say, these people forever ask the questions, never answer them.
Content will include:
What exists? matter, the external world, selves, God, free will, numbers, possibilities, causes etc
What can we know? what is knowledge, can we be certain, scepticism, limits (Godel, Heisenberg), logics etc
How should we live? ethics (meta-, systems, practical), philosophy as ways of life etc
Good luck. I hope you get a perspective from those who have written books, especially successful ones.