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A Little History of Philosophy Hardcover – 19 Aug 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (19 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300152086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300152081
  • Product Dimensions: 22.3 x 16.1 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Review

"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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Cathy Robinson on 19 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard G. Chambers on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Supriyo Chaudhuri on 22 Jan. 2012
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 By M. Cannon on 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 By Brixtonian on 20 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover
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 By Ron on 14 April 2012
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 By DJRodger on 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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