101 Philosophy Problems - Martin Cohen
101 Philosophy
Another book with philosophy in the title but again have no fear, this is no deep philosophical text. The more I’ve been involved in change the more convinced I’ve become that the key, or at least a significant part of the key to change is the creation and stimulation of thinking within the organisation. If we are to plot our course through a constantly changing world then the application of thinking, rather than unthinking mimicry of what is claimed to be good for us is critically important.

Whilst we might like to believe that we spend our lives thinking, I tend to think that there is more than a grain of truth in the view of George Bernard Shaw.

“Few people think more than two or three times a year. I’ve made an international reputation by thinking two or three times a week.”

So to the book. It’s aim is to present 101 prompts to thinking and perhaps seeing things differently and changing our understanding and knowledge. I found it a great book for train journeys where you have a little time to yourself and perhaps the chance to relax and let your mind play with ideas. The good news is that the questions are posed in the spirit of fun and although the title describes them as philosophical problems, this simply means problems to think about. The collection provides a diverse range of questions categorised under 17 different headings. These for example cover paradoxical pictures, problems with numbers, logical loops, ethical issues and many more.

I particularly liked the problems with time and am still trying to think through my understanding of the consequences of the speed of light and the effects of black holes. I also was unaware that light had weight and that 160 tons of sunlight falls on the earth each day - where does it go? You can also try your hand at some of the classical problems which have provided the food to while away the time of philosophers for many years, including Zeno’s paradox of Achilles and the tortoise featured in the Zeno and the Tortoise book reviewed elsewhere.

The great thing about these problems is that there are no solutions, so you need not fear getting them wrong. In place of solutions the book provides a useful discussion for each of the problems which helps stimulate further thought and help illuminate the issues that surround each problem. The book concludes with a glossary of philosophy terms and philosophers and a reading guide should you wish to enquire further.

If thinking is something you do, rather than something you read about, this book does a good job of prompting the process. As George Bernard Shaw intimates, thinking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you feel the need to wake up the grey matter and have time you can set aside on a journey for example then this is a good book to take with you. You never know what you might learn and discover.

Steve Unwin February 18 2004