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A History of Western Philosophy | [Bertrand Russell]

A History of Western Philosophy

Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy serves as the perfect introduction to its subject; it remains unchallenged as the greatest account of the history of Western thought. Charting philosophy's course from the pre-Socratics up to the early twentieth century, Russell relates each philosopher and school to their respective historical and cultural contexts, providing erudite commentary throughout his invaluable survey.
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Publisher's Summary

Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy serves as the perfect introduction to its subject; it remains unchallenged as the greatest account of the history of Western thought. Charting philosophy's course from the pre-Socratics up to the early twentieth century, Russell relates each philosopher and school to their respective historical and cultural contexts, providing erudite commentary throughout his invaluable survey. This engaging and comprehensive work has done much to educate and inform generations of general readers; it is written in accessible and elegantly crafted prose and allows for an easy grasp of complex ideas.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©1945 Bertrand Russell (P)2013 Naxos AudioBooks

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  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 11-21-13
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 11-21-13 Member Since 2001

    Letting the rest of the world go by

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    "Works on all levels"

    There doesn't seem to be a wasted section in this book because all the pieces seem to tie together from early to modern times. The author will first tell you the relevant history and social conditions at the time and how they went about influencing the philosophy he's going to discuss.

    You get a really interesting peak into the mindset of a writer during the end of WW II. The author would often bring in the Germans (Nazis) and Japanese and how what he is telling you is relevant to what was going on in the world at the time he wrote the book. Those parts of the books alone are worth reading the whole book.

    There was one part of the book during the discussion of Plato when I got overwhelmed, because he kept going on and on and soon as I was understanding one part he'd go on to another part and I wanted to stop listening. I'm glad I didn't, because what he does next is introduce another philosopher by saying how the philosopher disagreed with Plato for the following reasons and then I would start to understand what Plato really meant. It's like studying math. One doesn't really understand the algebra until one learns the calculus and so on.

    The book covers a lot, but I retain major parts of it. For example, I remember that Hegel believed that you couldn't understand the part without understanding the whole universe (uncle doesn't exist without nephew), and Marx's class struggle comes from Hegel's ideas about nations and so on.

    The narrator does a superb job.

    The book is also interesting for another reason. It might be my last foray into a grand survey of philosophy because it does such a good job. As the book preceded through out time, I realized the role of philosophy was getting smaller and smaller as the role of science (and math) was getting larger and larger. The book goes a long way towards showing me how much more important science has become, and how less important philosophy is.

    I usually listen to science books, but this book did fill in some gaps for me and I highly recommend it even for lovers of science books.


    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcus Brasília, Brazil 12-22-13
    Marcus Brasília, Brazil 12-22-13 Member Since 2010

    mvrb

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    "An Insightful Work"

    The book traces the history of philosophy's tought from the presocratics to John Dewey. Bertrand Russell presents the ideas of majors thinkers of the period and the social enviroment in which they live and work. The author discuss the diverse concepts and gives his reasons of agreement and/or disagreement. The narration of Jonathan Keeble is good and has distinct emphasis that help the listener/reader understanding of the work. Definitely an insightful reading in philosophy's field.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shadowmason minneapolis, mn 07-27-14
    shadowmason minneapolis, mn 07-27-14 Member Since 2011
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    "I'm not a Philosophy Major"

    This is interesting, educational, and well performed. Love how it interweaves western history,philosopher lives, and philosophy into one entertaining and informative blend. GREAT BOOK. I did whispersync which I am sure helped. Annotated portions that I could review at a later date.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt 05-25-14
    Matt 05-25-14

    resident genius

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    "Excellent example of Protestant polemic thinking"

    Bertrand Russell displays an excellent example of Protestant polemic thinking in this masterwork opinion on the craft of philosophy. In his panoramic exploration of philosophy, he best provides an excellent dissection of ancient Greek philosophy. It is clear Russell's historical accuracy is only limited by his lifespan (1870s-1970), and by his obvious brainwashing by Protestant polemics in England. It would come as a great irony to Russell, who confessed his near obsession with needing to feel loved, that the Catholic Church now has more parishioners in England than the Church of England itself. This is relevant because this work is clearly skewed in thought by the Protestant polemic thought process of the past 500 years. You will not find any inkling of recognition of the vast steps forward in historical analysis and forensics of the era of database historical research. Russell did not have this knowledge available to him, and his continual jabs at anything related to the Holy See indicate a man who believed the Spanish Inquisition was an evil force, that the Catholic Church was corrupt and doomed to failure and that the Enlightenment was actually enlightening. This latter point is critical. Russell was ultimately a failure at politics, and probably his misunderstanding of history is why. He shows no indication of understanding the influence of secular infiltration of the Catholic Church in the medieval era, not a smidgen of understanding that thoughtful man was moving from a world of kingdoms to a world of nation states and not nary a notion war is a natural consequence of politics. Countless failed attempts to secure a seat in Parliament and his odd, maybe eccentric, adherence to anti-Vietnam policy and peacenik thought reveal a man lost in a search for any kind of power over his own conscience. A great cartoon would be of Pope Paul or John banging their heads against this "mad bugger's wall." It is a shame Russell wielded academic power in such a way as to push the Protestant polemic further along, saddling untold numbers of admirers with the same skewed perspective that led to his many failures in politics. And the greatest irony was his self-confessed near-constant need to feel loved. Would that he could have been young enough during the Second Vatican Council to participate with the hundreds of other Protestant thinkers at that landmark congregation. He might not have filled his book with so much vitriolic opinion and it would have made the excellent, systematic discussion of ancient Greek philosophy much more enjoyable. In the main, this is a fine book to read to understand the outdated mindset of Protestant polemics in the world of philosophy. Russell wrote no less than five autobiographical works to promote his fullness of self. This book is far better than any of them even with the glaring ignorance of reality inherent in its core.

    4 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Fleming Island, FL, United States 02-01-14
    Steven Fleming Island, FL, United States 02-01-14 Member Since 2008
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    "not good"

    Not good, found it to be boring and not informative, and slanted and having a singular world view not in liking with the most enlighten thoughts of our age, though the author is clearly well educated and presents his content in the manner those having his singular world view will enjoy.

    2 of 37 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    7/8/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "A must for all philosophers!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A History of Western Philosophy to be better than the print version?

    Equal, it is nice to have it read but I also have the book. The audio did help to pronounce some of the odd words. I would suggest reading it and having it read aloud would help with understanding the different philosophies.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was a history of Western Philosophy!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • grey
    7/7/14
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    "A master teacher"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A History of Western Philosophy to be better than the print version?

    Equally good.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A History of Western Philosophy?

    Not an appropriate question.


    Have you listened to any of Jonathan Keeble’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not an appropriate question.


    Any additional comments?

    There are some brilliant lecturers out there on audible and there are many engrossing and well structured courses on philosophy but they cannot compare to Russell. He is a master teacher who grasps the breadth of subject and makes it his own as a philosopher himself. Not easy and perhaps caught in its time but still an incomparable guide to western philosophy. It should be read by everyone who wants to ponder these things ... Well read too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Thomas
    Chessington, United Kingdom
    7/7/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "Very interesting"
    What did you like best about A History of Western Philosophy? What did you like least?

    The content of this book is amazing - very interesting. The first chapter is extremely interesting. Sometimes it is a bit dry but then again what would you expect?


    What could Bertrand Russell have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Sometimes the contents are a bit complex, it could have been made easier to follow.


    What does Jonathan Keeble bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Jonathan Keeble is authoritative and clear and reads the text well.


    Could you see A History of Western Philosophy being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

    No


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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