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History of Western Philosophy and its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day [Paperback]

Bertrand Russell
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 Feb 1984
Nearly forty years since its first publication, "A History of Western Philosophy remains unchallenged as the ultimate introduction to its subject, while claiming classic status in its own right. It is the bestselling philosophy book of the twentieth century and one of the most important philosophical works of all time. This compact and affordable paperback edition makes this comprehensive and brilliantly written text readily available for a new generation of readers.

Product details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New edition edition (27 Feb 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415078547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415078542
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


""A History of Western Philosophy remains unchallenged as the perfect introduction to its subject. Russell...writes with the kind of verve, freshness and personal engagement that lesser spirits would never have permitted themselves. This boldness, together with the astonishing breadth of his general historical knowledge, allows him to put philosophers into their social and cultural context... The result is exactly the kind of philosophy that most people would like to read, but which only Russell could possibly have written."
-Ray Monk
"A survey of Western philosophy in relation to its environment, of such sweep and acuteness, alive in every nerve . . . a masterpiece of intellectual energy . . . the Socrates of our time."
-A. L. Rowse
"A great philosopher's lucid and magisterial look at the history of his own subject, wonderfully readable and enlightening."
-"The Observer
"Bertrand Russell's remarkable book, is so far as I am aware, the first attempt to present a history of Western philosophy in relation to its social and economic background. As such, and also as a brilliantly written expose of changing philosophical doctrines, it should be widely read."
-Sir Julian Huxley
"It is certain of a very wide audience, and is, in my opinion, just the kind of thing people ought to have to make them understand the past . . . It may be one of the most valuable books of our time."
-G. M. Trevelyan

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary Philosophy. 9 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This book is suitable for all people, whether academically inclined or not. I read this book over summer as preparitory reading for my course and found it very well written and easy to understand, since Russell is not prone to presumption or digression. This book highlights all of the most commonplace philosophy (Plato and Marxism) and gives the reader an excellent view of more esoteric philosophy (like Liebniz and Schopenhauer) which has been - heretofore - treated flippantly in some philosophical summaries. Although it is not my intent to slander some works, one must point out that Flew's Introduction to Philosophy was far less deserving of praise than Mr.Russell's work: since the former holds to a limited viewpoint, with only those philosophers considered "great" given any perusal; the later, meanwhile, should be given due praise since his book covers most of the salient philosophy of western philosophy. This book would serve well anyone thinking of reading philosophy for the first time, or even anyone familiar with the subject.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but (on occasion) just plain wrong 2 April 2002
The problem with reviewing this book is that although stylystically interesting, well written (to a degree) and certainly comprehensive, it is not the definitive introduction to philosophy it should be. As other reviewers have testified, this book was enjoyable and gave them insights into philosophers they may not have heard of. Indeed, I often refer to it when I come across some thinker I'm not familiar with.
However, there is a serious problem with this book. Russell is the first to admit that he doesn't understand some of the philosophers he covers, but some of his treatments are just plain wrong. If you tried reading this as an introduction you could end up with a seriously skewed view of many of the philosophers contained within - especially the more recent ones.
I would therefore recommend this more as a reference book for those who have studied at least a little philosophy, so that Russell's more ridiculous claims can be safely skipped and his arguments rated against those who have interpreted the philosophers in question more favourably. It is interesting to compare Russell to Rawls, who thought that one should never try to prove oneself more clever than the philosopher one was explaining.
Finally, not wanting to turn this into a Nietzsche argument, stating that Fascism is the 'logical conclusion' of his arguments is grossly misguided and shows the basic miscomprehension which surrounds this insightful thinker, and which this book in particular only serves to add to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it! 30 Dec 2013
By simben
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Essential reading for anyone interested in why we in the west think the way we do. Traces the history of modern thought and how our cultural outlook liberated itself from a dogmatic church controlled view and evolved into the scientific mindset of today. For those with foresight it also gives clues as to where we are heading...
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