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Descartes to Derrida: An Introduction to European Philosophy Paperback – 4 Jan 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (4 Jan. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631201432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631201434
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 2.5 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,286,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"If, like me, you find most philosophical commentaries on the work of such thinkers as Derrida, Deleuze and Levinas scarecely less obscure and jargon–saturated than the originals, then this is the book for you." Byron Williston, Philosophy in Review

"In general, American students find "continental" thought somewhat less accessible than its analytic counterpart. ...In light of this, such an introductory work on European thought is a welcome aid to the reading of the relevant primary sources. But the value of such a text.rests on the clarity of its own presentation. Sedgwick′s writing is clear, elegant, well organised and perfectly attuned to the concerns outlined above. I cannot help but mention another perfect audience for this book: faculty, such as myself.I confess to learning an enormous amount of philosophy from Sedgwick." Patrick Mooney, John Carroll University, in the Times Higher Education Supplement <!––end––>

"This book should take a place as one of the key texts in humanities programs throughout the English–speaking world." R Shumaker, Choice, June 2002

"With a reliable lucidity, Peter Sedgwick connects central questions in contemporary continental thought – the limits of knowledge, and the question of the subject – with the traditional history of modern philosophy from Descartes to Kant. This book demonstrates beyond doubt that no student of philosophy today can claim to be educated unless they have come to terms with the issues and figures it deals with so freshly and helpfully." David Wood, Vanderbilt University

"This will be the first book I recommend to students and non–philosophers looking for a guide into European philosophy, and academic philosophers – whether ′analytic′ or ′continental′– will also profit from its clear and jargon–free explications of some notoriously complicated philosophical thinkers." Alan D. Schrift, Grinnell College

"Peter Sedgwick has produced a remarkably lucid introduction to the dominant trends in European philosophy. Even the challenging projects of contemporary, postmodern philosophy are rendered accessible to an audience of non–specialists. This is a welcome, engaging resource for both students and teachers of the history of philosophy." Daniel W. Conway, Pennsylvania State University

"If ... you find most philosophical commentaries on the work of such thinkers as Derrida, Deleuze and Levinas scarecely less obscure and jargon–saturated than the originals, then this is the book for you. Peter Sedgwick has given us a remarkably lucid account of the major trends in the history of European thought, from the early seventeenth century to the late twentieth." Philosophy in Review

From the Back Cover

This critical survey of issues in European philosophy offers detailed accounts of crucial texts by important thinkers. Sedgwick draws key ideas from these sources, analyzing the various relationships between them and linking them to central themes in philosophical enquiry, such as the nature of subjectivity, reason and experience, anti–humanism, and the nature of language.

Areas explored include epistemology, metaphysics and ontology, ethics and politics. Aspects of the work of a broad range of thinkers is considered in detail, including Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Adorno and Horkheimer, Heidegger, Deleuze and Guatarri, Levinas, Derrida, Althusser, Foucault and Lyotard.

This intriguing new work presents the complex ideas of European philosophy in a straightforward manner, and will be of interest to both introductory and advanced–level readers.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dasein on 8 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book contains chapters on important and influential philosophers from, you guessed it, Descartes to Derrida. From the subtitle you might also have guessed that this book (once we get past Kant) is concerned with philosophers of the 'European' or 'Continental' stream in modern philosophy.

I like the fact that the chapters are not too heavy on biographical detail as this tends to bore me. What you get instead are very good explanations of the most important/famous/influential ideas of the philosophers under consideration. This makes the book accessible for for people who know next to nothing about a certain philosopher but want a quick crash course in their main ideas. This means certain chapters can be dipped into without the reader necessarily having read previous chapters. But also, cover to cover the book gives you a good basic understanding of what continental philosophy is like in general, historically and thematically.

I think as this book is an introduction, the level of detail and complexity is pitched just right for undergrads who are looking to quickly get an elementary understanding of certain philosophers. It also makes it a good book for those who are simply interested in the subject of continental philosophy. I would recommend that purchasers have a basic understanding of western philosophy, the problems it addresses and some understanding of basic terminology.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Ideal Introduction to Continental Philosophy 26 Feb. 2002
By rs - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book should take its place as one of the key texts in humanities' programs throughout the English speaking world for three reasons. First, Peter Sedgwick of Cardiff University (Wales) has written a book that very accurately addresses the needs of a wide audience. University teachers with little specialized training in continental philosophy can learn much from Sedgwick's dense, sophisticated arguments; students who are trying to understand either contemporary philosophy or critical theory can also use this book as a comprehensive guide to this field. Second, thematically, the book is wonderfully conceived and orchestrated: the author manages to adroitly integrate many of the literary and cultural themes of Levinas, Derrida, Lyotard, Deleuze, and Guattari into his account of the backgrounds of continental philosophy (Descartes and Kant on metaphysics and epistemology). Third, the book orchestrates themes of great interest that are often neglected in US liberal arts programs: anti-humanism, ethical and political implications of critical theory, and the nature of philosophical language. Sedgwick writes with considerable lucidity: he explains sophisticated ideas of great complexity about as clearly as possible. The book has an outstanding "Further Reading" section.
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