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.
©1945 Bertrand Russell (P)2013 Naxos AudioBooks
l'enfer c'est les autres
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.
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.
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.
Remarkably insightful and still well worth Reading. The boom relates philosophical position to the time and circumstances. It gives philosophy an unavoidable place next to science.
An almost incredible amount of knowledge in so many fields accumulated in a single book but there certainly are flaws..
Clearly the work of a great mind, it is all the more surprising and disappointing to find out that Russell was apparently incapable of understanding especially Schopenhauer let alone appreciating his work and that he's so obviously biased throughout the book. Kierkegaard is also largely ignored, among others. He seems to have been more interested in the fact that Schopenhauer himself couldn't live up to his own Philosophy. Since when can you judge a Philosophy by how well the Author himself applies it in his daily life? Even more shocking is how much time he wastes on talking about Nietzsche, by far the most overestimated Philopher in history, partly no doubt due to Bertrand Russell. Nietzsche never had anything original to say and was good only as a critic of other Writers, of Religion and so on. And as Russell himself says, it's so much easier to criticise the ideas of others than to be creative oneself. Russell concludes the chapter on Nietzsche by quoting Shakespeare, saying: "this is Nietzsche's philosophy in a nutshell". Well, if that's the case then what do we need Nietzsche for? Shakespeare's work has been there a lot longer than Nietzsche's. The best explanation for the two erroneous chapters on Schopenhauer and Nietzsche would be that maybe Russell's wife and not he himself wrote them. It's well known after all that Russell's wife assisted him with this book.
This is possibly the best narration/performance of a non-fiction book—or any book, really—that I have ever heard. Keeble is an outstanding narrator, and not just because he has a lovely voice. The problem with many narrators, especially in philosophy books, is that they just read the words with a steady, flat tone and at a brisk speed (with not enough pauses) that often gives me the impression that they don't understand what they're reading...and the result is that I, as the listener, have a hard time following the sense of what they're reading. Keeble is outstanding and unusual because he clearly understands what he's reading, and he reads with pauses at appropriate points, so that it's very easy for the listener to understand what's being said. He also conveys Russell's little humorous asides perfectly.
The audiobook is not necessarily "better" than the print book. I would say that it makes a wonderful companion to the print book.
The reminder of each of the greatest philosophers most influential ideas. While I hold a bachelors degree in the subject, this reminder was an enjoyable return to a time when I had left Plato's cave to see more than just shadows on a wall.
The Historical background information, though interesting, tended to be longer than I had anticipated. However, in the grand scheme of the book, it turned out to shed wonderful light on the pillars on which platforms each mentioned philosopher stood. Most compelling, however, was the summation of each philosophers contributions to the whole, while giving just enough detail to whet one's appetite to read more about each.
I am not familiar with Keeble, but his accent is pleasing - despite some rather interestingly pronounced words.
There are several embedded jokes for both newcomers to philosophy and veterans of the subject. The Orphic denial of beans in the diet, for instance, is treated by Russell with as much humor as one would expect for such silly nonsense.
During my bachelors degree, philosophy was divided into four sections of historical classes (ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary), Metaphysics I and II, Ethics, two seminars, and Logic - all of which are tested in the final comprehensive exam. This one book encompasses all four historical, Metaphysics I and II, Ethics, and easily also a minor in history, and misses only symbolic logic. While some may argue that this book is no substitute for a classical college education, I would say that an intent listener, who pauses to reflect between chapters and eagerly reads more on each subject he or she finds of particular interest, would gain just as much true knowledge as I did in four years of University. Especially since they would have listened to these lecture much less hungover than I did.
Good gloss of the field. Insightful history.
It is heavily influenced by being a 1945 book, where Hitler is a recurring theme (the inheritor of an ugly thread in totalitarian thought).
Mostly a good reading by the narrator, but no educated person should ever pronounce "ec cetera." Surprising how often that occurred in the text. Jarring.
there, then there and there.
Getting the historical background was indeed useful in all eras.
probably better if you've had some background in philosophy already but if not then just as good.
Russell's analysis of the highlights of Western intellectual history is insightful and Keeble's narration makes it an enjoyable learning opportunity.
"A complex story superbly told."
Expertly addresses editorial biases created by political and religious overlaps. So well narrated that you forget that you are not reading the book yourself. Makes for a useful reference book in the future.
"Great set of lectures"
This book came from Bertrand Russell's war time lectures in the US for the Barnes Foundation. Because they started out as lectures, it works well as an audio book.
I particularly enjoyed the early chapters on Pythagoras and other pre-Socratic philosophers. Russell's characteristic wit shines through in many places, my favourite quote is his suggestion that Pythagoras was a mixture of Einstein and Mrs Eddy.
"Extensive well researched account of philosophy"
I am studying Philosophy at the Open University and found this account very interesting. It gives the background, personal details of philosophers which makes it come alive and memorable. It was a long listen but well worth the effort and I might very well listen to it again.
"A must for all philosophers!"
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.
It was a history of Western Philosophy!
"Lots of smart people with muddled ideas"
An interesting overview of philosophy which highlights just why sitting down and thinking about the world and then dogmatically defending your views is no substitute for sitting down and thinking about the world and falsifying that world view. Still, well written and performed.
"A master teacher"
Not an appropriate question.
Not an appropriate question.
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.
"Don't worry, this written for everyone"
Basically this is the history of how humans deal with the universe but somehow it's understandable to the layman like me. Genius
"Interesting & well read but ..."
I found myself disliking of the people described and I haven't been able to finish it!
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?
Sometimes the contents are a bit complex, it could have been made easier to follow.
Jonathan Keeble is authoritative and clear and reads the text well.
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