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A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand…

A History of Western Philosophy (1945)

by Bertrand Russell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Much as I am fond of Mr. Russell, the book doesn't live up to its title. Renaissance Neo-Platonism is skipped? (for instance) I can understand how it doesn't have any appeal to Mr. Russell, but it was there and is a part of that history. ( )
  Nicole_VanK | Jul 25, 2018 |
A magisterial account of philosophy from the pre-socratics down to John Dewey and the philosophy of logical analysis. Some minor knowledge of philosophy is needed (mainly nomenclature and basic terminology) but this is an excellent introduction to (western) philosophy.

( )
  EroticsOfThought | Feb 28, 2018 |
História da filosofia ocidental é uma obra monumental, que inclui muitos dos mais discutidos autores nas diferentes áreas do conhecimento: da lógica às ciências políticas, da economia à antropologia. Bertrand Russell, considerado um dos maiores pensadores dos séculos XIX e XX, reflete de modo muito eclético e espirituoso sobre a filosofia ocidental desde os pré-socráticos até seus dias. Dividido em três volumes, o boxe é inédito no Brasil. Uma obra imperdível tanto para os amantes de filosofia quanto para quem quer conhecer um pouco mais sobre os grandes pensadores da nossa história.
  JG_Saez | Jul 5, 2017 |
An important point was left out of this book: The history of philosophy is also a history of drunks.

Bertrand Russell has attempted to give a brief overview of the History of Western Philosophy. In this 900 page tome he touches on the major figures, major fields of thought, and the socio-political backgrounds that influenced (and were influenced by) them. Russell also offers up some critique on these aspects, because it wouldn't be a philosophy book if it wasn't doing so.

This description sounds like anathema to entertaining reading, and it would be if it wasn't being tackled by someone like Russell. Bertrand has a very clear, concise, and accessible writing style, and is easily able to explain in plain language even the most complex of philosophical ideas. Normally reading philosophy reminds me of reading genetics textbooks, as it is overstuffed with pedantry and jargon, Russell makes it feel like he is uses no jargon or technical terms.

It should also be noted that Russell is snarky to the point that you find yourself having to laugh and share his comment with someone. His comments are withering and witty, but they also serve as a great way of highlighting the flaws with certain arguments or "great" thinkers. If there are a few takeaway points from this book it is that the great minds were way ahead of their time, but that those same minds were confined by the structures of their time. It makes you wonder how many of today's ideas are going to look silly and biased to future peoples.

This isn't really a book to read about certain philosophers, nor fields of thought. A History of Western Philosophy is more a cliff notes version of several thousand years of thinking. Definitely an emphasis on the history and context. And it is all viewed through Russell's eyes, his snarky, snarky, eyes. ( )
1 vote TysonAdams | Jun 20, 2017 |
In this wonderfully wide-ranging, intelligent and humane book Russell not only introduces the most important philosophers and philosophies from the ancient Greeks onward (in the Western tradition, that is, he alludes occasionally to oriental traditions where they influence western philosophy, but on the whole they are outside his remit), he gives the historical and social context from which the philosophies rose. I found this to be particularly valuable; my modern mind often has difficulty how some beliefs could have been held, but when Russell explains how it was not only more important for a philosophy to be internally consistent than anything else, but that before the era of modern science so much was unknown about the way the world and the universe worked that it was less clear cut what was feasible and what impossible, I felt I understood a lot more. I will not pretend to have understood all the philosophy herein - I have read very little philosophy, and i think that it is an area that needs a certain frame of mind or a thorough grounding, or possibly both - but putting the various philosophies into both historical context and into a continuum with the ideas on which they were built gave me a far greater understanding than I otherwise would have gained.

Even more important to this is Russell's wonderful style. He describes ideas and events with a clarity and fluidity which is astounding, even if some of the ideas still remain somewhat opaque simply because of their complexity to my way of thinking. He is a joy to read, bringing the historical detail and the lives of the philosophers to three dimensions, and regularly throwing in gems of urbane wit that sometimes had me chuckling out loud. While he describes the ideas, for the most part, with academic disinterest (although never dryly), Russell does not necessarily seek to be unbiased; he is forthright in saying, for example, that he not only disagrees with Nietzsche but dislikes his outlook, his fascination with violence, admiration for conquerors and dismissal of 'trivial' humanity. Russell shows, obliquely, how his own philosophy is driven by a belief in humanity and that, while progress might not be inevitable as the writers of the early industrial age seemed to believe, it can be brought about and sustained by human action. He also, in the closing chapter, points out why philosophy is vital to our understanding while at the same time recognising that it has many shortcomings.

Bertrand Russell had a truly magnificent mind and a privileged education, but even taking this into account, one of the things this book shows is something we seem to have lost in the current world of educating people for a specific vocation; Russell shows, and expects his readers to have, a familiarity not only with the subject on which he is writing, but with history, literature and culture beyond that relatively narrow field. Reading a book like this shows how vitally important that is, that making bridges between isolated subjects can lead to a greater understanding of all of them.

There are flaws, both of which I shall put down to the times in which he was writing;this book was written in the 1940s when Russell was already in his 70s. He lived to be 98. He tends to write that 'men have written' or 'men think' where a more modern writer would say 'people have written' or 'scholars think' (although one of the first modern academics to whom he refer is a woman). The other is in the chapter on the 19th century, when he mentions Darwin. While he does not quite get Darwin's theory right, I think this is largely because he was writing in a time when the theory had become distorted both by social Darwinists and by other bits of superfluous baggage that have been dropped away, and before clinching evidence like DNA was discovered.

A book I will keep close by to listen to again, and get hold of a paper copy so I can pore in more detail over some of the more difficult theories. ( )
2 vote Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Russell, BertrandAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hollo, J. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The conceptions of life and the world which we call "philosophical" are a product of two factors: one, inherited religious and ethical conceptions; the other, the sort of investigation which may be called "scientific," using this word in its broadest sense. (Introductory)
In all history, nothing is so surprising or so difficult to account for as the sudden rise of civilization in Greece.
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Vero e proprio capolavoro di sintesi e di chiarezza espositiva, la Storia della filosofia occidentale si offre come un quadro completo dello sviluppo del pensiero filosofico, all'interno del quale i singoli pensatori sono collocati nel loro contesto storico e sociale a dimostrare che l'opera di un filosofo non sorge mai isolata, bensì riflette ed elabora le idee e i sentimenti che sono comuni alla società di cui fa parte. L'opera di Russell, priva di difficoltà terminologiche e di disquisizioni tecniche, rappresenta uno dei migliori e più conosciuti esempi di divulgazione filosofica.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671201581, Paperback)

Since its first publication in 1945? Lord Russell's A History of Western Philosophy has been universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject -- unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace and wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century. Among the philosophers considered are: Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the Atomists, Protagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Cynics, the Sceptics, the Epicureans, the Stoics, Plotinus, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Benedict, Gregory the Great, John the Scot, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Occam, Machiavelli, Erasmus, More, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians, Marx, Bergson, James, Dewey, and lastly the philosophers with whom Lord Russell himself is most closely associated -- Cantor, Frege, and Whitehead, co-author with Russell of the monumental Principia Mathematica.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:35 -0400)

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Traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century.

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