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A Little History of Philosophy [Kindle Edition]

Nigel Warburton
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Philosophy begins with questions about the nature of reality and how we should live. These were the concerns of Socrates, who spent his days in the ancient Athenian marketplace asking awkward questions, disconcerting the people he met by showing them how little they genuinely understood. This engaging book introduces the great thinkers in Western philosophy and explores their most compelling ideas about the world and how best to live in it.

In forty brief chapters, Nigel Warburton guides us on a chronological tour of the major ideas in the history of philosophy. He provides interesting and often quirky stories of the lives and deaths of thought-provoking philosophers from Socrates, who chose to die by hemlock poisoning rather than live on without the freedom to think for himself, to Peter Singer, who asks the disquieting philosophical and ethical questions that haunt our own times.

Warburton not only makes philosophy accessible, he offers inspiration to think, argue, reason, and ask in the tradition of Socrates. A Little History of Philosophy presents the grand sweep of humanity's search for philosophical understanding and invites all to join in the discussion.

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"This book is a little classic."-Merryn Williams, Oxford Times -- Merryn Williams Oxford Times "A charming read."-Christian Century Christian Century "This brisk primer is, for the neophyte, a good place to start immersing oneself in the history of Western thought."-Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly "This book is a little classic, invaluable for the man or woman in the street who would like to know more about philosophy... [It] suggests that philosophy is 'not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose', but a thoroughly enjoyable way to stretch your mind."-Merryn Williams, Oxford Times -- Merryn Williams Oxford Times "The book has a certain quality that comes from accepting a challenge under severe conditions, then taking it on without making a big deal of the whole thing. And the word for that quality is grace."-Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed -- Scott McLemee Inside Higher Ed "With this sweeping and enjoyable work the author affirms that deliberating on reality and questioning how our lives are best lived is still worth the trouble."-PopMatters PopMatters "If you are looking for a book about philosophy, Nigel Warburton's A Little History of Philosophy is the place to begin...Accessible, funny and informative."-Sacramento News and Review Sacramento News and Review "Survey the entire history of (western) philosophy through short intellectual biographies of 40 philosophers from Socrates to Peter Singer, in as broadly approachable a style as EH Gombrich's A Little History of the World. A tall order; that Warburton (of the excellent podcast Philosophy Bites) has succeeded so well is a triumph."-Steven Poole, The Guardian -- Steven Poole The Guardian

About the Author

Nigel Warburton is senior lecturer in philosophy, The Open University. He is the author of several popular introductions to philosophy and is the interviewer on the Philosophy Bites podcast. He lives in Oxford.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2536 KB
  • Print Length: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (25 Oct. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005W9XXLW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #140,797 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Nigel Warburton (1962 - ). Nigel Warburton is a freelance philosopher and podcaster and bestselling author of several popular introductory Philosophy books including A Little History of Philosophy, Philosophy: The Basics, Thinking from A to Z, Philosophy: The Classics, Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction, Philosophy: Basic Readings, Freedom: An Introduction with Readings, and The Art Question. He has also co-edited two books based on his popular Philosophy podcast which he makes with David Edmonds 'Philosophy Bites'. On Twitter he his @philosophybites, and he runs the weblogs Virtual Philosopher and Art and Allusion. His other podcasts include Social Science Bites, Free Speech Bites, Everyday Philosophy, and Philosophy: The Classics - all available on iTunes.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost invaluable... 19 Sept. 2011
I bought this book on the recommendation of The Philosophy Shop for my son who has just started to study philosophy at AS/A level. I read it over a weekend and was transfixed by the skill Nigel Warburton has used to make a complex subject so comprehensible and entertaining. There is simple language and easily understandable examples, which all contribute to a greater understanding of the many ideas that shape our world. Mr Warburton does not shirk from explaining that some ideas are 'mad, bad and dangerous to know' but encourages the importance of constant questioning of who we are and why. I could not recommend this book highly enough as a valuable introduction to philosophy for interested people of all ages.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Admirable introduction to a fascinating subject 2 Jan. 2012
By Didier
I have to confess that until very recently I would have been hard pressed to come up with a sensible answer if asked 'what's the use of philosophy?'. But then I read Ben Dupré's 50 Philosophy Ideas (You Really Need to Know), followed by Plato and A Platypus Walk into A Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes (hilarious!) and in the wake of those read Nigel Warburton's book. 'A little history of Philsophy' is probably modelled on Ernst Gombrich's A Little History of the World, and in fact it succeeds admirably in doing for philosophy what Gombrich did for history. In barely 245 pages subdivided into 40 short chapters Warburton chronicles the history of philosophy, from Socrates and Plato to Peter Singer.

Did he omit certain philosophers? I'm sure he did, but then again: this is explicitly a short history of philosophy, and judging it by that standard I cannot find fault with it. Of course, one could argue that as a novice I am hardly in a position to judge, but one thing I can say with absolute certainty: Warburton's book has given me an appetite for more, so Bertrand Russel's History of Western Philosophy (Routledge Classics) is next on my reading list, and surely that is a good thing?
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable reading. 6 Oct. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was amazed how quickly I read this book, which is 248 pages long. Warburton writes in plain English, which explains why the book is such an easy read. He provides a quick overview of the seminal work of 40 prominent philosophers, ranging from the Classical Socrates to the modern Australian, Peter Singer. The book allows about six pages for each philosopher, and it gives a clear description of the main work that has made each of these philosophers famous.

An excellent book for the general reader, like myself, who would simply like to learn a bit more about philosophy. I suspect that it might be too lightweight for an undergraduate seriously studying Philosophy at university.

Highly recommended for the general reader.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had a career in business, and had no prior knowledge of philosophy when I picked up this book. What I was looking for is a quick read, a businesslike introduction, to the things I needed to know about. This book proved just right, and more: It created an interest which I intend to follow up on.

This is a relatively short book, 250 pages in all, given that it attempts to present the ideas of more than 40 major philosophers dating back to Socrates and ending with the living ones like Peter Singer. Written for the lay reader, it is full of examples, presented in plain language, in sections not more than six or seven pages long. There is a conscious attempt to put everything in perspective, each section ends with a prelude to the next, and at other times, there are references made to ideas and works of other philosophers as we read about another one.

As I mentioned, this book goes beyond the basic introduction and generates an interest in the subject. It does so by being practical and establishing relevance to everyday life. A number of questions are explored in the context. People like Darwin, Freud and Kuhn find sections of their own. I ended up recommending this book to friends in other disciplines as a good read and great enabler of intelligent conversations.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Careful makes Philosophy addictive 11 Jun. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As always Nigel Warburton is able to convey ideas easily and with good humour, all I have read of his has been excellent and thought provoking. For the layman or anyone trying to grasp philosophy read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy in a nutshell 20 Jun. 2012
I loved this book. Forty short chapters on philosophers from Socrates to the present day, summing up the work of each one in a way that was completely comprehensible to someone who knows almost nothing about philosophy. I'm not going to pretend that I now understand Wittgenstein, but I've got a clearer idea of most of the others. A beautifully produced, lovely-to-handle little book too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read 14 April 2012
By Ron
Format:Kindle Edition
This is not a book for serious students of philosophy. However it is an easy read and hits the button if you want to understand how philosophy has developed from the Greeks to today and what it can teach us of practical use in thinking about our lives today
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best introduction to the key philosophers around 1 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've spent some time reading a number of introductions to philosophy and the key philosophers to try and introduce my mum to them. She doesn't know anything about philosophy and I was getting a little frustrated as they all assumed at-least some prior knowledge. However, this book was perfect for the job, clear,well written and informative at just the right level so that beginners don't get stumped and that those more well read don't feel patronised. Definitely worth a slot in the house library and probably a great read for the inquisitive teenager.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book to dip into, beautifully written.
Published 22 days ago by Bernadette
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book
Published 1 month ago by rob
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth having on your bookshelf
Really handy little reference/introduction to philosophy using understandable language.
Published 3 months ago by Linda Deans
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent clear accounts of major names in western Philosophy. Highly recommended.
Published 3 months ago by Yssie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 months ago by William Ewing
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction to philosophy
Excellent intro for interested laypersons. Most chapters cover one philosopher, Warbuton explains one of two of their key ideas plus an easily-digestible counterargument and a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by muddy-funster
5.0 out of 5 stars but this is the definitive and best introduction to philosophy that is...
I know that absolutes are to made to be challenged, but this is the definitive and best introduction to philosophy that is likely to be written, ever. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Diogenes
2.0 out of 5 stars Unreasonable blunder
Stalin has been omitted from the list of dictators, the well-educated author is fully aware of Stalin's diabolical methods and ways and his uncomparable dictatorship, how is it... Read more
Published 7 months ago by NagyImre
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice wee read.
Great wee read and introduction to the philosophies. Got me reading more. Well worth the money.
Published 7 months ago by Jim Tosh
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtfulness
Wonderful fun and curiosity aroused. So good to read well written grammar.
Published 7 months ago by Lottie
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