A Markdown version of the free textbook created by Walter Ott
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Modern Philosophy README

Modern Philosophy is a free textbook created by Walter Ott. It combines public-domain primary sources with supplementary material and study questions. Everything not in the public domain is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

This modified version of Ott's text is written in Markdown. Markdown is a plain-text syntax that allows for easy conversion to other file formats. Using pandoc, Modern Philosophy can be easily converted to HTML, PDF, EPUB, and many other formats.

(Note: this text uses a number of pandoc-exclusive extensions of the standard Markdown syntax.)

Read it now

The HTML and EPUB versions of the Markdown text are available on the project page. However, they may not reflect the very latest changes made to the text.

Convert it

Because this version of Modern Philosophy uses the pandoc extensions to Markdown, you'll need to install pandoc in order to convert modernphilosophy.markdown to other formats. Once pandoc is installed, it can be run from the command line.

For example, pandoc -f markdown -t html5 --standalone --smart --toc -o modernphilosophy.html modernphilosophy.markdown will convert modernphilosophy.markdown to a valid, unformatted HTML5 file (with a table of contents and smart quotation marks). The resulting file will be title "modernphilosophy.html"

The modernphilosophy.css stylesheet can be included with the -c option: -c stylesheets/modernphilosophy.css.

The modernphilosophy.html5 template offers more options. Set the variable readingjs to "true" to include the reading.js script and stylesheet. (Reading.js is used in the HTML version hosted on the project page.) The full command that includes the template and variable options is:

pandoc -f markdown -t html5 --smart \
--template=modernphilosophy.html5 -V readingjs=true -o \
modernphilosophy.html modernphilosophy.markdown

If you use the reading.js stylesheet, don't also include modernphilosophy.css.

See the pandoc user's guide for more information.

Remaining issues

Given how many students read on their laptops and other digital devices, it makes sense to have a free textbook that can be converted to different formats and read on different devices. This has led to a few changes in how the text is written:

  • Walter Ott's PDF version had many fill-in-the-blank questions. These are useful if the text is printed, but this version of Modern Philosophy is not intended to be printed. One goal, therefore, is to rewrite the study questions accordingly.

  • The two-column format of the original version of the text improved readability. The large blocks of text in primary sources can be daunting, especially in the HTML conversion. Another goal, therefore, is to insert more line breaks, indented items, and lists to break up the text. Fidelity to the original formatting of primary sources is less important than readability.

  • The EPUB (ebook) conversion looks beautiful on iBooks, but several other EPUB readers (including the NOOK readers and Adobe Digital Editions) fail to correctly render the study question numbers. This is because the markup used to generate the study questions is not valid XHTML. However, the markup in question is valid HTML5, so future versions of these readers should render the study questions correctly.