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A History of Western Philosophy Audiobook

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 2016

    l'enfer c'est les autres

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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.


    36 of 37 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.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Collin 11-18-15
    Collin 11-18-15 Member Since 2015
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    "The Summary of My Bachelor's Degree"
    What made the experience of listening to A History of Western Philosophy the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    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.


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

    I am not familiar with Keeble, but his accent is pleasing - despite some rather interestingly pronounced words.


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

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    8 of 8 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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neuron Sweden 12-01-15
    Neuron Sweden 12-01-15 Member Since 2015

    Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction addict.

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    "Better used as a reference"

    Bertrand Russell is one of my favorite philosophers. Many other philosophers are, at least to me, incomprehensible. I often don’t understand their arguments and their conclusions seem to come from out of the blue. What I like about Russell is his clarity in explaining philosophical arguments, his own as well as others, in something that at least resembles pure English.

    In this extremely ambitious book, Russell goes through pretty much all of western (and some eastern) philosophy. As he moves from one philosophical epoch to the next, he always sets the scene by describing the historical context that helps the reader understand where the ideas came from.

    After describing the historical context, and the resulting philosophical ideas he critiques the ideas, explaining their weaknesses as well as their strengths. I don't know if it is because he is a clear thinker or a good communicator, but he his critique of philosophical ideas seem to make sense. For a philosopher, Russell also seems relatively humble. He does not, like certain other philosophers dismiss the scientific endeavour as just imperfect empiricism. Of course, being a logician he does not dismiss deductions either. For an amateur philosopher such as myself, he comes across as balanced.

    Having said that, it is hard to stay focused throughout the book, and I would recommend using it more as a companion reference book if you are taking a course in philosophy. So read it, but maybe not all at once.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Killian 09-09-15
    Bob Killian 09-09-15
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    "Entertaining history of western philosophers"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Burghardt Heerde 04-29-15
    Paul Burghardt Heerde 04-29-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt Ranlett Atlanta Georgia 04-06-16
    Matt Ranlett Atlanta Georgia 04-06-16 Member Since 2014

    Husband, father of 2, and a software developer moving slowly and unsteadily into management. I love reading, especially fiction & history

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    "Wonderful intro, need to go deeper on modern stuff"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is a great introduction and I really like the analysis of what's going on in the world at the time of the philosopher's activity. I also like the fact that the author wrote this book 70+ years ago, asking contemporary questions we can see answers to


    What other book might you compare A History of Western Philosophy to and why?

    This is a survey course in history and like most histories it spends so much time on the ancient past that the recent past and present are sparsely covered.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Keeble – was your favorite?

    Narrator - good job


    If you could give A History of Western Philosophy a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Foundations for philosophical conversations


    Any additional comments?

    I could have used some printed materials to go with this - there is a ton here.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    erik 02-05-16
    erik 02-05-16
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    "An excellent book, brilliantly narrated!"

    Other than his one-dimensional and unfair assessment of Nietzche, which was no doubt a product of the propaganda of the time in which this book was written, Russell delivers a beautiful and highly entertaining portrait of Western thought. This book does far more than simply expound the thoughts of philosophers; it teaches philosophy in a manner that only a genuine philosopher could. In that regard I found it far more compelling than any course or lecture series. The 38 hours of listening time flew by and I was sad when it ended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Strejer 12-06-15
    Strejer 12-06-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A very good book to casually listen to"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Having listened to all this, I have to say I am going to recommend it to anyone who wants to get a birds' eye view of philosophy from antiquity to the modern times, up ww2.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I don't mean strictly birds' eye, there are areas where Betrand Russel goes in quite the detail and offers you insight into the mind of many philosophers throughout the ages. I especially like it when he describes the thoughts of the ancients and medieval scholars and philosophers.

    owever, I do have one thing to complain about in regards to Bertrand Russell and that is that by the end of the video, the biases have gotten the better of him. He is an internationalist, a socialist (not in the american sense, and I don't mean it in a bad way either) and has certain opinions that color his views. These things become more clear as he gets into the more recent philosophers though one can spot them when discussing the "4 doctors of the Church" and other medieval and Renaissance scholars. So this is a fair warning to people who would listen to this audio book, keep in mind and don't let his bias become yours. Don't let his personal interjections color your views. But more importantly, don't let this put you off from enjoying and listening to this wonderful audio book cover to cover.

    Why?

    Because once you went through it, you can and will be able to find your footing and know what you want to learn about more. Maybe his comments on Descartes sparked your interest. Maybe his descriptions of Pythagoras' quite curious world view made you giggle and laugh and want to go out and explore other curiosities and absurdities that people believed. And so on and so forth.


    What about Jonathan Keeble’s performance did you like?

    As for the reader, I have to say, it was brilliant. Johnathan Keeble does so much for the book. He immerses himself and you in the book and what he says, acts out the scenes, respects punctuation and gives life and meaning and joy in listening to this audio book.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Don't make a movie from this book


    Any additional comments?

    Yes, as I said, while Bertrand Russells' views color his opinions and his bias becomes evident when speaking about the more recent philosophers, he doesn't really try and conceal it, or try and persuade you that his view is the correct one. So don't let his bias become yours. Get the information and the benefit of listening to so you can find your footing in the world of philosophy and know for what you want to go for next.

    Cheers.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • kola
    London
    2/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Great set of lectures"
    Would you listen to A History of Western Philosophy again? Why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    What about Jonathan Keeble’s performance did you like?

    Well read.


    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Yas
    7/8/14
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    Performance
    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!


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Z. M. Snarey
    UK
    11/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Extensive well researched account of philosophy"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • VDS
    3/2/16
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    Performance
    Story
    "An amazing introductory book on philosophy"

    A beautiful summary of main philosophical ideas. Very well read. I bought the printed book first but found it too long. The audiobook allowed me to listen at times when I had to do manual jobs.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • grey
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Daniel
    9/13/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Dave O
    4/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Matt
    Berkshire, UK
    2/5/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Staggering breadth of western thought"
    If you could sum up A History of Western Philosophy in three words, what would they be?

    History of thought.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The sheer scope of this work is more than I would have sat down to read, but listening to it and learning about the history of philosophy and how it helped build the way the West views the world, the universe, itself, culture, science and art is more than I expected.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    At 38 hours long, it would have taken some effort to listen to it one sitting. However, I did listen to it in large chunks of 4-6 hours at a time, which gives some idea of how interesting I found it.


    Any additional comments?

    This is the first of its kind that I have read, so is worth remembering it is Bertrand Russell's view and comes out of his own world view, though does well to treat fairly viewpoints that differ from his own. As far as sources go, Russell is excellent, but I would be curious how others have tackled the topic.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • M A Courtney
    3/29/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "awesome"

    so great... this is still the best philosophy book. Greek, theological and modern covers all!

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Dale Linney
    5/18/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Invested reading of a classic"

    Excellent narration of a long and at times difficult text. The nature of Russell's work is obviously polemic, but he makes no apologies for it. By taking the approach of at first setting the scene of each philosopher or group, then expounding their theories, exploring the implications if their theories were true, then applying his own criticism, we get a unique blend of context, explanation and criticism from one of the 20th century's foremost philosophers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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