REVIEW: Jim Baggott, A Beginner’s Guide to Reality

reality-book.jpgFor those who enjoy contemplating some of life’s biggest mysteries and reflecting on some interesting philosophical questions, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Reality’ offers a broad range of discussion points and solutions which have the potential to alter your view of the world.

The book is broken into three parts, ‘Social Reality, or Is Money Real?’, ‘The Doors of Perception, or Are Colours Real?’, and ‘Physical Reality, or Are Photons Real?’ To address these issues Baggott adopts a conversational tone and uses plenty of relevant examples to effectively translate ‘big picture’ concepts into more readily digestible pieces.

While references to the expected philosophical greats such as Kant and Plato are present, Baggott also draws on popular culture, scientific research and current social events to help ensure explanations are easily understood by readers. References include everything from movies (such as Memento, Matrix and Blade runner), books (such as Alice in Wonderland, and The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), to people (like Niels Bohr, Bill Clinton, Albert Einstein and JRR Tolkien).

The first two parts of the book are easier going than the last part. This is due more to the content of this third part rather than because of any fault with the writing. While the book is not necessarily a quick read, given that any type of philosophical contemplation requires time for concepts to be understood and absorbed, the time taken is well worth the effort.

To assist readers with their reflection, Baggott breaks down concepts as much as possible, though thankfully avoiding the need to resort to condescension or oversimplification. Apart from what ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Reality’ offers in its own right, it is a book which also provides a good starting point for readers to take on further philosophical explorations.


  1. Joshua Xalpharis

    I think it’s great that Jim Baggot is breaking down some of the walls that keep people from understanding philosophy as a whole.

    By making philosophy available to everyone, it will help eliminate the image of elitism, both real and imagined, that surrounds the field. Only good things can come from erasing this stigma.


    Looks interesting, I will have to check it out, thanks for the review!

  3. Tracey

    Hi Joshua – Definitely agree with you there. Philosophy should be accessible to everyone, not just for an elite few. Thanks for your comments.

    Hi MBSBUYB – No worries, hopefully you’ll enjoy it. It definitely gives the brain cells a work out!

  4. jan

    I think it was Kant who said that the readers who could understand what he was writing about would never be truly happy. I read than in a beginning philosophy class and I went back to English literature classes after that.

    I will definitely check out “A Beginner’s Guide…” Thanks for the review.

  5. kelley

    Jan, that’s hilarious!

    Looks like an interesting read, and my brain cells could definitely use the work-out.

  6. Tracey

    Hi Jan – That can be the funny thing with philosophy, even if you can get to a point where it all makes sense, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be provided with any nice easy answers.

    Hi Kelley – That’s what I like about philosophy. It gives me a chance to think about a lot of really interesting stuff in a focussed way.

  7. Jim Baggott

    Thanks Tracey for the kind review. Glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Tracey

    Hi Jim – What an honour that you stopped by. Thank you very much for taking the time to read the review. I really enjoyed your book, and I think it’s one that I will be revisiting many times.

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