Regular price: $27.97

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
In Cart

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 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"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

Average Customer Ratings


  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

An in depth read.

An interesting review of the early development of western philosophy. I would recommend it to those who are curious about how our collective philosophical thought came to be.
The content is organized chronologically by those who were the driving force of the idea. The author does a neat job tying previous and future concepts together, and hence my problem. Not a student of philosophy I was occasionally lost by the frequent reference to names I was unfamiliar with. This would be an asset to those who know the names.
Narration is excellent, as is the sound quality.

31 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent and entertaining backgrounder

If you want to learn about Philosophy or have had a modest introduction to one or two philosophers you are likely to appreciate this book. Its emphasis is undoubtedly on ancient greek philosophy rather than modern philosophy. However it was no small task to assemble even what was in here. The narrator is also excellent and a pleasure to listen to. The only criticism I have is that the author takes an attitude that we now know all there is to be known, and it becomes painfully obvious from listening to this book that there is a lot left to learn.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • Carrollton, TX, United States
  • 02-08-04


There are great literary works and there are great works of narration. "The Dream of Reason (Unabridged)" from is both.

The greatness of this book is well known ( so I will concentrate primarily on the recording content), tracing the philosophy of "reason" from its infancy in early Greek thought, to the monumental advances of Aristotle (the greatest philosopher of all time IMO), onto the relevancy to the modern day. One need NOT be formally trained in philosophy to enjoy, learn from, and appreciate this narration. Even so, the advanced philosopher will enjoy even more. In short this is simply a real gem.

Although I had read this book several times in print, the audible version animates in such a wonderful way. Indeed, I found myself so captivated by the perfect narration, that I tended to 'remain" in my car even upon arrival at my destination :-)

I could not recommend a title at more highly.
Indeed, I truly believe it will make you a better person. It did me :-)


19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Matthew
  • Pflugerville, TX, USA
  • 09-24-03


This book is written so deftly, and with such a wry wit, that it elevates what could have been a very dry overview into one of the most engaging audiobooks I've ever listened to. This is due in no small part to the narrator, whose british phrasings capture the rhythms of the text in an extremely pleasurable way.

117 of 125 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Wry and Dry

A great companion to any Western Philosophy study. Gottleib has a very wry sense of humor, and adds a human element to what have often been deemed unapproachable minds. He excells at bridging the gaps between prominent schools of thought, tying the philiospher with their theory and their successors (and detractors). For example, he gives an especially lucid portrait of Aristotle, and follows it up with a timeline of influence, from his slavishly devoted followers to men like Franics Bacon that wished to see him purged from thought. Best listened to when total focus is an option- the reading is slightly dry, and he can go on and on at great lengths from time to time. Other than that, it's very enjoyable and extremely informative.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Barnaby
  • Honolulu, HI, USA
  • 12-11-03

Gottlieb's outrageously good

This book provided one of the most interesting insights I've ever had in to how people originally began to inspect their lives and the world around them. It traces, literally, how people started to think. I'd never understood where logic came from. As someone else enthused, "ignore this book at your peril" or something like that. There is nothing I've heard out there, contemporary or otherwise, which comes a gnat's hair close to paralleling the degree of intellectual clarity this book describes.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joshua
  • Trumbull, CT, USA
  • 10-23-04

Excellent intro

This book was my first attempt at studying philosophy since college. I found the book easy to listen to, enjoyable and enlightening. The author doesn't waste time arguing with other interpretations, but rather gives a straigtforward easy to understand interpretation of each philosopher discussed. Since listening to this book I have read several other intros to philosophy, none with the clarity and focus of this book. The narrator was excellent as well.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Wonderfully Informing

Truly worth the time and, unfortunately at times, effort. Although the presentation rambled on a bit too often the many embedded gems rewarded my patience. The narrators voice is pleasant, but her presentation contributed to this book's monotonous stretches. The ending was abrupt, unresolved, and without summation - which I would have appreciated at the end of this marathon. Criticisms aside, I still recommend this book to anyone interested in beginning to grasp the foundation that shapes our thoughts and attitudes today.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant, engaging, and entertaining

Highly "readable" and engaging sweep of Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the Renaissance. Gottlieb often refers back to earlier philosophers whom he has already discussed, drawing connections critical to giving the listener a sense of continuity and departure in philosophical thought. Remaining faithful to the complexity of the ideas while being remarkably clear and often very witty stands as no small accomplishment. I learned a great deal, even about philosophers with whose works I have been long familiar.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • 10-31-03

Pretty good.

Very well written and well narrated. Nearly 3/4 of the book is devoted to ancient Greek philosophy.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful