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The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance | [Anthony Gottlieb]

The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance

In this landmark new study of Western thought, Anthony Gottlieb looks afresh at the writings of the great thinkers, questions much of conventional wisdom, and explains his findings with unbridled brilliance and clarity. After finishing The Dream of Reason, listeners will be graced with a fresh appreciation of the philosophical quest, its entertaining and bizarre byways, and its influence on every aspect of life.
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Publisher's Summary

In this landmark new study of Western thought, Anthony Gottlieb looks afresh at the writings of the great thinkers, questions much of conventional wisdom, and explains his findings with unbridled brilliance and clarity. From the pre-Socratic philosophers through the celebrated days of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, up to Renaissance visionaries like Erasmus and Bacon, philosophy emerges here as a phenomenon unconfined by any one discipline. Indeed, as Gottlieb explains, its most revolutionary breakthroughs in the natural and social sciences have repeatedly been co-opted by other branches of knowledge, leading to the illusion that philosophers never make any progress.

From the physics of angels to Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Gottlieb builds through example and anecdote a vivid portrait of the human drive for understanding. After finishing The Dream of Reason, listeners will be graced with a fresh appreciation of the philosophical quest, its entertaining and bizarre byways, and its influence on every aspect of life.

©2000 Anthony Gottlieb; (P)2003

What the Critics Say

"This eloquent book offers a lively chronicle of the evolution of Western philosophy." (Publishers Weekly)

"[Gottlieb] writes with fluency and lucidity, with a gift for making even difficult matters seem comprehensible." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

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3.7 (680 )
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  •  
    Edwin Vadnais Heights, MN, USA 10-28-03
    Edwin Vadnais Heights, MN, USA 10-28-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Integrative, Reflective, and Detailed - The Best"

    The best history of philosophy I've read. It's key value to me is it's reflective presentation of very profound thinkers. While I sometimes bridle at "road to science" overtone, he presents a reflectively sympathetic exposition of the deeper currents running through the philosopher's whose house of "ideas" we now live in and rarely venture out of. Highly recommended.

    28 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Los Angeles, CA, United States 07-30-05
    Matthew Los Angeles, CA, United States 07-30-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Depends on your goal..."

    If you want to listen to a history of philosophy (and note that this book only runs up through the Renaissance, a later volume will bridge the modern day) not so much to retain information but simply be told an intriguing story about how our ways of thinking were developed, this is an entertaining listen, albeit challenging. If you desire to retain the details of the philosophers and their particular ideas this book would be better read where one could make notes, flip back and forth, re-read with ease, etc. As it is this is a well-read audio book and it makes many complex ideas of philosophy easy to understand, although even for me (someone who thinks himself well-read) it was still a challenge to fully grok each teacher's essential contribution to the field. I gave this book three stars not for its content, but simply because it might not be the best choice of an audiobook for every listener.

    26 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Charlotte, NC, USA 10-18-04
    Robert Charlotte, NC, USA 10-18-04 Member Since 2004
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    "Interesting"

    I've always been interested in learning more about the history of philosophy, but never had time or patience enough to read. From a novice perspective I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The concepts were not over my head, but still engaging enough to provoke contemplation.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Austin, TX, USA 12-30-03
    Jeff Austin, TX, USA 12-30-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well done, ends with a whimper"

    This is really a very well written book and -- considering the subject matter-- amazingly well read by the narrator, but it is long. I stayed pretty interested, rivted even, throughout most of it, but I had to take in much shorter listening chunks than usual due to its density. This meant that it felt like it went on for ages, and when I reached the anticlimactic last quarter of the book it was hard to pay attention (especially since medieval philosophy is obtuse and wholly bogus, as the author points out repeatedly). The Dark Age is not the fault of the author, and it does make the Greeks look even more brilliant by contrast, but in an audiobook it's a long slog when you're already worn out. If you're tempted by this book, by all means get it, but it's okay to let yourself off the hook at the end-- you're not missing much if you skip it.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer austin, TX, United States 08-30-09
    Jennifer austin, TX, United States 08-30-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Excellent from every perspective"

    I often find that books of history or philosophy tend to take themselves very seriously. It's tedious. They also tend to varnish their subjects (or villify them) which is disingenuous . This book did neither. The author is whitty in a very dry way. He does tend to proclaim the virtues of his subjects, but does it while saying, of course he was obsenely vain and wildly wrong. I found it to be both entertaining and educational. Don't expect to discover some great truth about existance (it is a book about philosophy not a book of philosophy) and you'll probably enjoy it. My only criticism is that I could see the narrator's voice being easy to tune out on. I liked her and will probably look for her again, but you should listen to the sample first to see if you can handle that. If so, enjoy.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Brown 09-25-04
    E. Brown 09-25-04 Member Since 2003
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    "A Reinvigorated Past"

    The Dream of Reason is a spellbinding reintroduction to philosophical thought. The book is as witty as it is fascinating. The narrator is fantastic; her flexible voice creates characters and underscores the humor that is the authors strong suit. Highly recommend.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Henderson 08-20-04 Member Since 2003
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    "philosophy as science"

    a good exploration of early science, since the ancient philosophers were the scientists of their time. Not dry, very engaging. I had a rather dim awareness of early thinkers, so I expanded my understanding of the subject by listening to this book. Entertaining, but much more.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathon Pyles 03-12-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not bad, but unoriginal thesis"

    Over half the book focuses on the ancients from Aristotle and prior. He doesn't really cover the modern philosophers. I think he spent too much time on the pre-socratics. There is not much fresh about the author's view of the history of philosophy. In the view of the author, the history of philosophy is the history of the blossoming of philosophy in the ancient world with its culmination in Plato and Aristotle, followed by backsliding of philosophy during the Christian era (here, there is a typically negative description of the affects of Christiantity on philsophy and, implicitly, truth-seeking), and finally the remergence of philosophy triumphantly over Christian dogmatism. Mostly this is a simple history of what philosphers said. It is also the only audiobook history of philosophy on audible, so we have to make do. But remember that there are other ways of understanding the history of philosophy--and the story is incomplete without bringing it up to the modern era

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rahel Cambridge, MA, USA 02-14-04
    Rahel Cambridge, MA, USA 02-14-04
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    "Good, engaging history of philosopy"

    Especially strong in its depiction of early Greek philosophy - but engaging all the way through. Not as easy to listen as fiction, yet the excellent narration helps. You may want to listen to it again after a while.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristopher Lee's Summit, MO, USA 01-20-09
    Kristopher Lee's Summit, MO, USA 01-20-09
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    "Great Foundation for Philosophical Study"

    It would be all too easy to give this book a bad rating for two reasons: First, it's long - almost 18 hours, which gives a reviewer more reasons not to like it. Second, it's tedious; at least in the beginning. Don't expect to just breeze through this thing. Consider that you'll be getting a semester or two of college level material. If you've never taken a 300 level history or philosophy course before, this will likely challenge you a bit.

    If one can get past the pre-Socratics, he will soon be treading easier ground. But plod through them first (as I'm confident that many fell by the wayside on their way to Socrates). The rewards, whether they are fully understood or not, will be forthcoming.

    Despite the complexities of various philosophies and how one affected the other over the course of many centuries, the book is extraordinarily (and surprisingly) cohesive. The author is capable of bringing back certain subjects again and again in different contexts. Therefore, if one forgets what Anaxagoras said about such and such, it's likely to come up again while studying another philosopher further down the line.

    This book is excellent though, especially if you want to absorb some kind of cohesive continuum of the development and mutations of philosophical thought prior to delving in more deeply into individual philosophers. It would also make a very fine preparation prior to taking college-level courses in philosophy, and perhaps history as well.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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