Ghost writer of over 100 unpublished works...;).
I picked up this audiobook because I wanted to begin studying philosophy and I needed a starting point. I am not disappointed. Durant gave me the direction I was seeking and a lot more.
One of the most valuable things it provides is the context in which each philosopher wrote their philosophy. Durant shows how the time and place of each philosopher affected each work. He also highlights the influence of other philosophers in each work.The great works of philosophy weren't created in a vacuum.
I had never heard of Will Durant but as I listened I got the impression that whoever this guy was he really did his homework. How little did I know! Suffice to say that I believe he is qualified to write such an ambitious work. Look him up on Wikipedia if you are as ignorant as I.
And what a narration! I can't speak highly enough of the way this sometimes difficult work was tackled by Gardner. I don't know how he did it, it's like he wrote the book himself and was conveying his own thoughts on the complicated mind of Kant or Nietzsche.
If you don't know much about philosophy, you really can't go wrong with using this as a starting or reference point. I imagine even those with experience in the field will find Durant's insight beneficial.
I was greatly pleased to find William James included in the discussion, but was disappointed not to find more on Descartes, Hume, Locke, and others.
For reference, from wikipedia:
"Philosophers profiled are, in order: Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Baruch Spinoza (with a section on Descartes), Voltaire (with a section on Rousseau), Immanuel Kant (with a section on Hegel), Arthur Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, and Friedrich Nietzsche." Also Henri Bergson, Benedetto Croce, Bertrand Russell, George Santayana, William James, and John Dewey.
Sam Harris is spot on. As I listened to ???The Moral Landscape???, I cannot help but think of the frustration that so many intelligent people throughout history have felt when confronted by the masses that refuse to listen to simple fact and reason. Whether trying to convince people that the world is round or that skin color does not matter, changing the minds of the majority has never been easy - or popular. Thankfully there are people like Sam who challenge us and aren't afraid to try to sail around the world.