While teaching Introduction to Philosophy at the Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska, Michael Vlach (who is also an Assistant Professor of Theology at Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California) found that he “empathized with students who were having a hard time grasping the basics of philosophy.” As Vlach began searching for reference guides that could provide a summary of important concepts, he decided that maybe he could provide such a reference himself. Thus was born Philosophy 101: The “Big Idea” for the 101 Most Important People and Concepts in Philosophy.

Philosophy 101 is a straightforward breakdown of many of the basic foundational concepts of philosophy as well as the founders of the concepts themselves. While Vlach is quick to admit in the book’s introduction that no two philosophers will agree on the 101 most important people and concepts in philosophy, he also feels that he’s covered his bases successfully with the ones he’s chosen. 

Beginning with the concept of “philosophy” itself, Vlach has laid his book out carefully and delibarately in order to make sure that even the complete philosophy novice will be able to follow along. But Vlach’s reference guide isn’t just for beginners. Even those with a few years of philosophy under their belt will find plenty of useful information here and plenty of reasons to keep the novel close at hand.

Each entry is between one and three pages and features a “Big Idea” heading, encapsulating the concept or person into one descriptive sentence. The entries are organized by date as closely as they can be, though not all entries lend themselves to simple date classification. What Vlach has done with his new publication is take 101 very complicated ideas and give enough information about each one to generate a big picture in the reader’s mind, and perhaps spark a curiousity that would lead to further study. At once informative and easy to read, Philosophy 101 is a book any philosophy student will find helpful.

Zach’s Review: A-
Perfect For: A solid intro, a quick review, or a simple reference guide
Stay Away if: You and philosophy have advanced far beyond introductions

For more information and to purchase Philosophy 101, visit Theological Studies Press
To just purchase Philosophy 101, visit Amazon

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