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A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand…

A History of Western Philosophy (original 1945; edition 2014)

by Bertrand Russell (Author)

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5,324441,325 (4.17)61
First published in 1946, History of Western Philosophy went on to become the best-selling philosophy book of the twentieth century. A dazzlingly ambitious project, it remains unchallenged to this day as the ultimate introduction to Western philosophy. Providing a sophisticated overview of the ideas that have perplexed people from time immemorial,nbsp;it is 'long on wit, intelligence and curmudgeonly scepticism', as the New York Times noted, and it is this, coupled with the sheer brilliance of its scholarship, that has made Russell's History of Western Philosophy one of the most important philosophical works of all time.… (more)
Title:A History of Western Philosophy
Authors:Bertrand Russell (Author)
Info:(2014), 944 pages
Collections:Your library, Books
Tags:Books, Philosophy, History, Bertrand Russell

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A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell (Author) (1945)



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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
The author covers a great deal of western ideas in this work; from the pre-Socratics to the thinking of the modern era. I have heard that Russell was rather biased, but I would need to read more general works to compare him to another author.

This work is quite lengthy and includes short biographies of all of the people he covers. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Finally! It took several months, but I finally finished. And this book was worth every minute. It's the best history of philosophy I've read. Not that I have read enough histories to determine that this is the best out there. But I have read a few which I can compare it to. Many histories of philosophy are far too simplistic, written at a level appropriate for a junior high student. I tried to break away from that type by reading Frederick Coppleston's history, but that was over-correcting the problem. Coppleston's history is very long (9 volumes at ~500pgs each) and far too dull for a casual reader. It is only suited for a dedicated student of philosophy. I got through the first volume and gave up.

Russell's history, however, is written perfectly for a casual reader with a college level education. His style is easy to read and even contains few bits of dry British humor. But aside from the prose, what really makes Russell's history superior is the manner in which he discusses each philosopher's theories. Russell explains the philosopher's biographical background and the major events of his time. He uses this contextual material to illustrate how external events influenced the thoughts of each philosopher. I think that is something that most histories of philosophy lack. And where the do include some context, it is usually a simple biography; they don't explain how certain events may have influenced modes of thought.

Another element that I very much enjoyed was Russell's own personality and opinions coming through in his critiques of past philosophers. For most of them, he maintains a commendable level of objectivity. But for those whose philosophies led to the foundations of Nazi fascism, you can sense his indignation. Russell was a Brit, and he wrote this history during WWII, so you might suspect there is something of a patriotic distrust of the German philosophers. But Russell was far from a nationalist either (he was thrown in jail for his pacifism during WWI). I think he disliked the German idealists (particularly Hegel and Nietzsche) because he was a humanist and liberal that could not tolerate any philosophy that could be used to promote the subjugation of one set of people by another.

A couple items I thought were missing from this history were discussions of Wittgenstein and Godel. I can understand Russell's reluctance to discuss Wittgenstein. Russell was Wittgenstein's teacher at Cambridge. And Godel's theorem essentially crushed Russell's life's work to create a complete and consistent logic, so I can also understand his reticence on that subject. But getting Russell's perspective on both of those men would have been extremely fascinating.

If you do decide to read this, I would highly, highly, highly recommend that you first read Logicomix, a graphic novel about several philosophers involved in the search for truth through logic. It focuses primarily on Russell, and through it you will gain an understanding about his personality, which will make reading his history of philosophy even more enjoyable. It will allow you to put Russell's words in a historical and biographical context, just as he does for the philosopher's that he critiques. And Logicomix is just a great read in it's own right. ( )
  joshuagomez | May 31, 2019 |
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 |
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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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