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101 Great Philosophers: Makers of Modern Thought [Paperback]

Madsen Pirie
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: £11.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Sep 2009
101 Great Philosophers is a concise and accessible guide to 101 of the greatest minds that contributed to the legacy of western philosophy. From the ancient Greeks to present-day thinkers, Madsen Pirie employs concise entries, each limited to about 400 words, to give an overview of the contribution made by 101 key philosophers to the development of this fascinating subject. The author deliberately takes a broad view, including some from other disciplines who also have changed the way we think about ourselves, our society or our world. This book provides a sparkling insight into the lives and times of each philosopher covered - explaining just why what they had to say was so innovative and important. Essential reading for anyone coming new to the subject, or for those wishing to broaden their knowledge of our intellectual heritage, this book is an indispensable introduction to the most important ideas in the history of western thought.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (1 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826423868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826423863
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 450,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'Fans of the "dip-in-and-have-a-go" approach to philosophy should form an orderly queue.'
--City AM

About the Author

MADSEN PIRIE is President of the Adam Smith Institute and author of numerous books including The Book of the Fallacy, How to Win Every Argument, Freedom 101, Boost Your IQ and The Sherlock Holmes IQ Book. He was formerly Distinguished Visiting Professor of Philosophy and Logic at Hillsdale College, Michigan, USA. He frequently appears on CNBC, BBC television, and Sky as an expert commentator.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shortcut to Philosophy 15 Sep 2009
Many people wish they knew more about philosophy. They might hear names like Montesquieu and Wittgenstein bandied about across dinner tables, and wish they knew more of what they were about. Yes they might be daunted by the volumes of reading required to determine that.

Not any more. Madsen Pirie has produced a first class summary of the ideas of 101 of the greatest thinkers, getting to the essence of their contribution, and what was innovative and important about it, and all in 400 words for each of them. This is a book you could read in an evening, if you could stand the information overload. It actually makes a good dipping book, too, in that Dr Pirie writes engagingly as well as clearly, giving a glimpse of their lives in most cases, as well as their ideas.

It is a superb way to get a grip on the subject; and will undoubtedly stimulate readers to delve more into those whom Madsen Pirie calls the "makers of modern thought".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for the mind 9 Sep 2009
101 Great Philosophers is a masterly exposition of the core ideas of 101 great thinkers that have shaped our world.

With the ever-increasing quantity of information, what has been lacking is an accessible summation of these without the need to wade through vast quantities of texts... until now.

Invaluable to those new to philosophy, this book will also be of interest to those that already have a grounding in the subject. The book's wide breadth ensures that intellect will be stirred, gaps in knowledge filled and connections in thought.

The ideal gift for anyone with a curious mind, this book comes highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful book for students 13 Sep 2009
By Carmen
I am studying for a degree in philosophy and I am learning a lot from this book. It is a window into the essential aspects of each philosopher's ideas. The perfect overview for anyone who wants to tackle the most important ideas of modern thought.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A. Ma
In our racing world of broadband internet and to-the-minute news, the market has been fulfilling thirsts for soundbite previews with series such as A Very Short Introduction and For Dummies. However, there has always been a gap in the market for introductory philosophy. "How can one provide a concise and satisfying account of the history of philosophy?" the purists clamour, "It cannot be done!" But Pirie has delivered just that. By ordering the book chronologically, one can read it from cover to cover and watch as the development of western philosophy unfold before their eyes. One can really get a sense of how each philosopher assimilate, emulate, and integrate the previous one's ideas and how each one influences the next. In addition, the index at the back allows for quick access to each philosopher, so the book can also be used as an encyclopaedia for reference.

In entries of just 400 words, Pirie manages to capture the essence of each philosopher's ideas. His writing style is accessible to all, and the quirky nods to relevant myths and legends only foster further curiosity and a desire to learn more. The dizzying web of philosophy is demystified by Pirie's elegant captions. With a degree in philosophy himself, Pirie hopes to pique interests and be the intermediary towards further discovery. As his caveat in the preface mentions, he has taken a "broad definition" of what it is to be a philosopher - "Anyone whose thought has changed the way we think about ourselves, our societies or our world, has a potential claim to be included." This book is recommended for anyone with an open mind and wants to find out more about what has shaped the world of ideas today.
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