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Medieval Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 2 Paperback – 31 May 2007

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Medieval Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 2 + Ancient Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 1 + The Rise of Modern Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 3: New History of Western Philosophy v. 3
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (31 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198752741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198752745
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 1.8 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 415,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review from previous edition This wonderful book . . . is not only an authoritative guide to the history of philosophy but also a compelling introduction to every major area of philosophical inquiry. . . . Kennys prose is exceptionally clear . . . He conveys his rich subject matter with a light touch of which only the greatest of writers are capable. . . . This, combined with his breadth and depth of learning and philosophical sophistication, make reading this book hugely rewarding. It is also worth mentioning that the book is beautifully illustrated . . . One is left eager for subsequent volumes and convinced that the intellectual cosmos is, indeed, boundlessly rich. (James Ladyman, Times Higher Education Supplement)

About the Author

Anthony Kenny is formerly Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford, and former President, British Academy.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Suzanne on 15 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am very pleased with this book it is in great condition and it was very reasonably priced. Thank you
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Good Resource 17 May 2008
By IWB - Published on
Format: Paperback
A good introductory survey of philosophical topics as they were treated by various medieval thinkers throughout the entire period, from late antiquity and the commentators of Aristotle, to the inception of the humanists. The survey combines what is properly called intellectual history and philosophy proper. The historical aspect is kept to a minimum (as it ought to be in a philosophy book) without sacrificing salient features of the historical context in which the topic under discussion occurred. The philosophy, on the other hand, is more developed and Kenny has an emphasis on concept explanation, as opposed to explicating arguments; though he does do both at times.

This includes the following topics: God, Mind and Soul, Logic and Language, Knowledge, Physics, Metaphysics, Ethics, as well as an excellent treatment of philosophy and religious belief from Augustine to Maimonides,and scholasticism from the twelfth century renaissance (Abelard and the 'nominales' school) to the so-called renaissance proper (roughly 1360-1550), at which point scholasticism began to give way to the new schoolman, the humanists.

Kenny is especially good at explaining the intellectual current of a given period and how such a current has bearing on the topic at hand, this is particularly seen in his discussion of physics. As such, the historical context of each topic and its subsequent development is presented thoroughly but briefly; however, little attention is given to the explication of any particular thinker's arguments on any given topics. For that reason, you will find little critical analysis of the particular arguments presented.

All in all it's an excellent work, written clearly and informatively, by a very capable philosopher. It's a good introduction for undergraduates at the freshman and sophomore level. But if you've had more than a survey course in medieval philosophy, you need something with a bit more depth.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A fine overview for students or non-specialists 29 July 2011
By John in Orlando - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This fine book, the second volume in Kenny's A New History of Western Philosophy, provides an overview of the major figures and issues in the philosophy of the European Middle Ages. Kenny takes an "intellectual history" approach in the opening section to provide necessary historical context and biographical information on the major figures he will be discussing. In the longer second part of the book, he turns to philosophical issues per se, tackling, in turn, "Logic and Language," "Knowledge," "Physics," "Metaphysics," "Mind and Soul," "Ethics," and "God." Kenny organizes this discussion around a who's who of the major medieval philosophers, including Augustine, Boethius, Avicenna, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and Ockham. The chapters on ethics and God, topics so important in the Christian philosophical matrix of the Middle Ages, are very good, but it is the chapter on logic and language that stood out to me as being particularly interesting--Kenny highlights the ways in which medieval thinkers were anticipating issues in the philosophy of language that have been very hot topics among philosophers of the last century.

Kenny's book will be useful to anyone with a more-than-casual interest in philosophy or in medieval intellectual history. It may prove too difficult for absolute beginners with no philosophical background. Non-specialist academics and students, among others, will relish the book both for the helpfulness of its content and for the charm and grace of Kenny's writing.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great overall reference! 8 Jun. 2010
By Steven Brett Jenkins-Edwards - Published on
Format: Paperback
I took classes in philosophy for years and I have to say that I was very surprised with this book. Kenny has a great knack for rephrasing the arguments of the Schoolmen in modern philosophical vocabulary without loss of substance. You'll be shocked by how relevant medieval philosophy really is; I'm a little angry undergrad students aren't made more aware of this material. This book accomplishes what every history aspires to: you close the book feel well-informed and freshly energized about the craft of philosophy.

The only minor downsides to the book are stylistic. A few strangely-worded cultural references make you feel like you're listening to 'Old Man Kenny' on occasion. More seriously, there are some instances where it's a little hard to follow the narrative voice, leaving you unsure at first where critical exposition ends and judgment begins. Thankfully, though, these defects are minimal in number and effect. Anyone with a moderate interest in philosophy will find this a worthwhile purchase.
Great!! 30 Dec. 2012
By Francisco Serrano - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like everything about this book. The time that it took to arrive and it has really helped me a lot in class.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good enough, but WHY is Hypatia Naked? 30 Jun. 2014
By Michigan Rifleman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Kenny is the Copelston for the new generation. Kenny's attempt to put the history of Western Phil. into four volumes (about 1100 pages) is probably good enough. The organization of volume 2 is very good: roughly 100 pages of history and another 180 pages organized by major topics. This should work well for the reader who has little or no background in Medieval European philosophy. All the prime suspects are given time in the text, even some to the lesser knows get space: Eriugena, John of Mirecouts, & St. Bernard. Kenny's topical review is balanced and does make an effort to bring up uncomfortable topics. Kenny's explanation of Aquinas on property is absolutely correct. Aquinas states explicitly that taking the property of others is NOT a sin when taken out of need. Kenny reminds us of what genuine Christianity is about.
However, Kenny does sometimes need to make connections to Frege, Wittgenstein or Russell, none of which is likely helpful to undergraduate students of philosophy. And although I might have congratulated Kenny for his inclusion of Hypathia (he does give a proper overview of what little is known of her life and work) IF he had NOT chosen to illustrate her through the use of a 19th NUDE painting. His illustrations of Augustine, Boethius, Ockham, Duns Scotus, & Averoes all seem to have found some way to put clothing on, but not Hypatia, who is depicted as a victim rather than a scholar. Sexism in philosophy has a long history and Kenny's book is only one small part of it.
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