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The story of philosophy;: The lives and…

The story of philosophy;: The lives and opinions of the greater… (original 1926; edition 1965)

by Will Durant

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2,975201,922 (3.88)32
Title:The story of philosophy;: The lives and opinions of the greater philosophers, (Washington Square Press classics, W586)
Authors:Will Durant
Info:Washington Square Press (1965), Edition: [New ed.], Unknown Binding
Collections:Your library
Tags:box 35, W-916

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The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers by Will Durant (1926)

  1. 10
    The Age of Faith by Will Durant (gmknowles)
    gmknowles: Will Durant has many books on history. Well written and absorbing, while allowing the reader or student to gain a good historical grasp.

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A survey of the thoughts of the world's great philosophers that becomes tedious when trying to read in one go. ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 26, 2016 |
A lengthy, well-written history of philosophy from its beginnings (in the Western world) in ancient Greece through the aftermath of the First World War. Durant's language will sound a little archaic, possibly even precious, to the modern reader, but the author can hardly be blamed for that. Ultimately, the impression I took away from his valiant effort to document the progress of the field was one of disappointment: in 2016, humanity is more dismally bereft of answers than Durant could ever have imagined in 1926. Like him, I have to admire the sheer scope of Aristotle's philosophy (riddled with errors though it was) and the razor-sharp wit of Voltaire, but what revelations have been disclosed since Schopenhauer? Spencer was little more than a cranky anti-socialist, and Nietzsche an insufferable lunatic (whose "philosophy" was much closer to poetry, as even Durant admits)...and, since their time, the only appreciable stride made in the field has been Russell's rejection of metaphysics.

So, is philosophy dead? Pretty much, but it's not a recent development. What Durant's essential optimism prevented him from conceding is what Schopenhauer already knew in the early nineteenth century: that there are no magical formulas, that the world is as bad as it can possibly be without ceasing altogether to function. Millions of people, witnessing and experiencing the overflowing misery of human existence, have drawn the same conclusion without the slightest knowledge of Schopenhauer.

Which, of course, is not to say that we should do nothing. I share Carl Jung's view of Schopenhauer: "Here at last was a philosopher who had the courage to see that all was not for the best in the fundaments of the universe...Schopenhauer's somber picture of the world had my undivided approval, but not his solution of the problem." In other words, once we have arrived at this grimmest of realizations, we must resist rather than become bitter cave-dwelling hermits. Because we can conceive of a better world, it is our duty to fight for it. ( )
1 vote Jonathan_M | Apr 26, 2016 |
An excellent book. A must read for everyone who is interested to know the evolution of thoughts over last two thousands years. Highly recommended. ( )
  Awdhesh | Oct 8, 2014 |
Really had to work to finish this one. I guess having been a failed student of philosophy (that is, I gave it up rather early on), I can't criticize this with too much precision, but this piece of work really felt like it was misnamed. If anything, it should have been "here are some philosophers, some you should know about and others you can quickly forget." Not really, but.... The gaps felt like bigger pieces of the story than the story itself, in many cases. Of course, I know this was first published in 1926, so the perspective on the overall picture was a fair bit different. Nonetheless, I can't say that I'd recommend this to anyone. ( )
  tlockney | Sep 7, 2014 |
Philosophy, a word that so often spring out in conversations. But what does it mean? Where does it come from? Who were the people who made it so important for us? What were their main ideas?

If you like this subject and you, like me, feel utterly lost amidst the vast world (or should I say worlds?) of this field of knowledge, and you're serious into grasping its profound insights and scope, this is the book where you should start.

One of its striking features is the way that Will Durant, the author of this story, guides you through the main characters that made philosophy what it is today, with a passion and insight that are only available to those that truly love this subject.

The book is slightest dated towards the more recent authors (namely the 1st half 20th century philosophers), but this is just a small detail that doesn't make the book less valuable – it's still a priceless resource to provide the reader with a good view of the history of philosophy as a whole. ( )
  henrique.maia | Aug 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
To sum up, then, Dr. Durant's book deserves a wide reading, but it lacks the continuity, the historical scope that a history of philosophy must have. As an appetizer, The Story of Philosophy should be unstintingly recommended, but twenty-five hundred years of thought cannot be popularized in such small compass; and the danger is that the majority of readers will think that they have now traversed the vast field of speculative thought since antiquity.
added by eromsted | editThe Philosophical Review, A. A. Roback (pay site) (Mar 1, 1927)
Not being intended as a contribution to original scholarship, but rather as a work of art, the book deserves something better than a meticulous picking of flaws which are half the time mere differences of interpretation and emphasis. Dr. Durant reaches real eloquence in the chapters of Spinoza, Bacon, Voltaire, Spencer, and Nietzsche, men for whom he feels a real enthusiasm and of whom he writes with evident gusto. If we mistake not, many readers will admire the book for these chapters alone.

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Will Durantprimary authorall editionscalculated
Durant, ArielAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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To my wife; Grow strong, my comrade...that you may stand
Unshaken when I fall; that I may know
The shattered fragments of my song will come
At last to finer melody in you;
That I may tell my heart that you begin
Where passing I leave off, and fathom more.
First words
There is a pleasure in philosophy, and a lure even in the mirages of metaphysics, which every student feels until the coarse necessities of physical existence drag him from the heights of thought into the mart of economic strife and gain.
The author would like to record here a debt which he can never repay, to Alden Freeman, who gave him education, travel, and the inspiration of a noble and enlightened life. May this best of friends find in these pages—incidental and imperfect though they are—something not quite unworthy of his generosity and his faith.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671739166, Mass Market Paperback)

Easily the most engaging writer of Western intellectual history in the English language, Will Durant breathes life into philosophers and their ideas. He is colorful, witty, and above all, informative. Beginning with Socrates and ending with American philosopher John Dewey, Durant summarizes the lives and influence of philosophy's greatest thinkers, painting them with humanity and adding a few of his own wise platitudes. Seventy-some years after its first printing, The Story of Philosophy still stands as one of the best of its kind.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:22 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Chronicles the ideas of the great thinkers, the economic and intellectual environments which influenced them, and the personal traits and adventures out of which each philosophy grew.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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