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Sophie's World: a Novel about the History of Philosopy (original 1991; edition 1997)

by Jostein Gaarder

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13,534212157 (3.77)135
Member:thanissaro
Title:Sophie's World: a Novel about the History of Philosopy
Authors:Jostein Gaarder
Info:Penguin Putnam Inc (1997), Edition: Open market ed, Paperback, 544 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, read in 2013
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

Work details

Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (1991)

  1. 51
    The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder (Percevan)
  2. 31
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (missmaddie)
    missmaddie: As the main characters develop, they also uncover fascinating mysteries with philosophical/psychological significance. Very intellectual reads with twisted, intense plots!
  3. 00
    The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor (GirlMisanthrope)
  4. 11
    Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (weeksj10)
    weeksj10: Their both lecture style novels which use fiction to present a variety of different thoughts and philosophies.
  5. 02
    Det store eventyret om virkeligheten : en fantastisk fortelling om den nye fysikken by Jack Falao (Percevan)
  6. 03
    Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede (missmaddie)
    missmaddie: Both books contain letter correspondence, and they also both have supernatural/fantasy elements. Likable girls as the main characters.
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» See also 135 mentions

English (162)  Spanish (14)  Dutch (10)  French (6)  German (4)  Finnish (3)  Swedish (3)  Norwegian (2)  Portuguese (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (212)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
Uno de esos libros que descubrí en la adolescencia gracias a una de las mejores profesoras que tuve en el instituto.
Filosofía, historia y reflexiones presentadas de manera muy amena. Tanto que gracias a este libro me aficioné a las novelas de Jostein Gaarder. ( )
  Minimissplaced | Jul 21, 2016 |
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Sophie Amundsen is fourteen years old when the book begins, living in Norway. She begins a strange correspondence course in philosophy. Every day, a letter comes to her mailbox that contains a few questions and then later in the day a package comes with some typed pages describing the ideas of a philosopher who dealt with the issues raised by the questions. Although at first she does not know, later on Sophie learns that Alberto Knox is the name of the philosopher who is teaching her. He sends her packages via his dog Hermes. Alberto first tells Sophie that philosophy is extremely relevant to life and that if we do not question and ponder our very existence we are not really living. Then he proceeds to go through the history of western philosophy. Alberto teaches Sophie about the ancient myths that people had in the days before they tried to come up with natural explanations for the processes in the world. Then she learns about the natural philosophers who were concerned with change. Next Alberto describes Democritus and the theory of indivisible atoms underlying all of nature as well as the concept of fate.

At the same time as she takes the philosophy course, Sophie receives a strange postcard sent to Hilde Møller Knag, care of Sophie. The postcard is from Hilde's father and wishes Hilde happy birthday. Sophie is confused, and moreso when she finds a scarf with Hilde's name on it. She does not know what is happening but she is sure that Hilde and the philosophy course must somehow be connected. She learns about Socrates, who was wise enough to know that he knew nothing. Then Alberto sends her a video that shows him in present day Athens and somehow he seems to go back in time to ancient Athens. She learns about Plato and his world of ideas and then about Aristotle, who critiqued Plato, classified much of the natural world, and founded logic and our theory of concepts.

Then, as Sophie's education continues, the Hilde situation begins to get more complicated. She finds many more postcards to Hilde, and some of them are even dated on June 15, the day of Sophie will turn 15. The problem is that June 15 is still over a month away. She discovers some of this with her best friend Joanna, and one of the postcards tells Hilde that one day she will meet Sophie and also mentions Joanna. Strange things are happening that the girls cannot figure out. Sophie's relationship with her mother becomes somewhat strained as she tries both to cover up the correspondence with Alberto and to practice her philosophical thinking on her mom. Meanwhile, Alberto teaches Sophie about Jesus and the meeting of Indo-European and Semitic culture. She learns about St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, and the christianization of Greek philosophy that occurred in the Middle Ages. By this time, Sophie has met Alberto and he begins hinting that the philosophy is about to get extremely relevant to the strange things that are happening to her.

Sophie learns about the focus on humanity in the Renaissance and the extremes of the Baroque and then Alberto focuses on some key philosophers. Urgently, he teaches her about Descartes, who doubted, and by doing so knew at least that he could doubt. They move on to Spinoza as it becomes clear that Hilde's father has some awesome power over them. Then Sophie learns about the empiricists. Locke believed in natural rights and that everything we know is gained from experience. Hume, an important influence on Kant, showed that our actions are guided by feelings and warned against making laws based upon our experiences. But Berkeley is most important to Sophie because he suggested that perhaps our entire lives were inside the mind of God. And Alberto says that their lives are inside the mind of Albert Knag, Hilde's father.

At this point the story switches to Hilde's point of view. On June 15, the day she turns fifteen, Hilde receives a birthday gift from her father entitled Sophie's World. She begins to read and is enthralled. We follow the rest of Sophie's story from Hilde's perspective. Hilde becomes certain that Sophie exists, that she is not just a character in a book. Alberto has a plan to escape Albert Knag's mind, and they must finish the philosophy course before that can happen. He teaches Sophie about the Enlightenment and its humane values and about Kant and his unification of empiricist and rationalist thought. Things in Sophie's life have become completely insane but she and Alberto know they must figure out a way to do something. It will have to occur on the night of June 15, when Hilde's father returns home. They learn about the world spirit of Romanticism, Hegel's dialectical view of history, and Kierkegaard's belief that the individual's existence is primary. Meanwhile, Hilde plans a surprise for her father on his return home. They rush through Marx, Darwin, Freud, and Sartre, desperate to come up with a plan to escape even though everything they do is known by Hilde's father. Then at the end of Sophie's World, the book that Hilde is reading, while at a party for Sophie on June 15, Alberto and Sophie disappear. Hilde's father comes home and they talk about the book, and Hilde is sure that Sophie exists somewhere. Meanwhile, Sophie and Alberto have a new existence as spirit—they have escaped from Albert Knag's mind but they are invisible to other people and can walk right through them. Sophie wants to try to interfere in the world of Hilde and her father, and at the end of the book she is learning how to do so. ( )
  bostonwendym | Jul 20, 2016 |
Fantastic! A good, comprehensive 101 course to philosophy, ranging from Democritus to Sartre, with scientists, political theorists and others put in the mix.

Besides that the book has a light but gripping metafictional plotline, two enjoyable protagonists, and some interesting writing along the way.

Perhaps Gaarder's greatest accomplishment in this book is that he manages to explain philosophical thinking while making it the center of the story's plot at the same time.
  bartt95 | Jun 22, 2016 |
Tried to read this because it was one of the few my youngest, most 'successful' brother recommended to me. I don't think I managed to finish it. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
READ IN DUTCH

This book is a summary of Western Philosophy starting at the Early Greek Philosophers (let's say Pre-Socrates) and ending with the modern philosophers. Luckily, this book reads mostly like a novel.



I really liked the beginning of the book. I happen to have had a class on Pre-Socratic philosophy, as part of my Greek lessons, and I think that after a year I got the vision of Heraklitus cum suis clear. So it was most interesting to read about it in this book.

In this part it still is a story you're reading.



After Socrates, Plato and Aristotle it's only a short way to 'modern' philosophy, starting at Descartes. (I also happen to have had a class on the 'philosophy and introduction of ethics' where the professor just couldn't shut up about Descartes, and after very few words on Kant and Nietzsche moved on to Freud, another person he really liked to talk about) But at some point during the (I think it's was the 19th century philosophers) I got lost. As the philosophy becomes weirder (as in like 'what if we're not real, but just live in the imagination of someone else'), the story also takes a turn down that path, and it turns barely understandable. The sense of reading a novel gets lost as well. It left me confused. (Though I really liked the first part) ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
As philoso-narrative, "Sophie's World" is a world above "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" but a universe below "The Magic Mountain." In my view, literate readers would do better to try Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy," which is shorter on magic but longer on wit, intelligence and curmudgeonly skepticism.
 

» Add other authors (39 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jostein Gaarderprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buchholz, QuintCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eriksson, MonaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haefs, GabrieleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klok, JankeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Møller, PauletteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pijttersen, LucyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savolainen, KatriinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snoeijing, KimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, PaulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
He who cannot draw on three thousand years

is living from hand to mouth.


Goethe
"Colui che non è in grado di darsi conto di
tremila anni rimane al buio e vive alla giornata".

JOHANN WOLFGANG GOETHE
Dedication
Information from the Spanish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Este libro no habría nacido sin el alentador apoyo de Siri Dannevig. También quiero agradecer a Maiken Ims su revisión del manuscrito y sus valiosos comentarios. Mi gran agradecimiento también a Trond Berg Eriksen por sus cariñosas observaciones y sólido apoyo profesional durantes muchos años.
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Sophie Amundsen was on her way home from school.
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Deze roman over de geschiedenis van de filosofie is een spannend verhaal, een detective en een filosofie-geschiedenis in één: een intrigerende roman die iedereen zal aanspreken die iets over zichzelf en de wereld om zich heen wil leren.
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One day fourteen-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find in her mailbox two notes, with one question on each: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" From that irrestistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the pilosophy she is learning--but the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined.… (more)

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