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The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Reinaissance [Paperback]

Anthony Gottlieb
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 15.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance 5.0 out of 5 stars (3)
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Book Description

27 Sep 2001
An exceptionally rich, intelligible and illuminating history of Western philosopy from the sixth century BC to the Renaissance, THE DREAM OF REASON provides an introduction to the puzzling personalities of the philosophers, as well as an extremely sensitive and persuasive presentation of their views.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (27 Sep 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140252746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140252743
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Amazon Review

Executive editor of the Economist, Anthony Gottlieb is one of the contributors to the recent collection of excellent essays in The Great Philosophers. His latest achievement, The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance is not only superbly written, but is, quite literally, enchanting.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one begins with the Milesians and includes the Pythagoreans, Heroclitus, Parmenides, Zeno, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Democritus, and the Sophists. Part two concerns Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, while the final part deals with the Epicureans, the Stoics, the Skeptics, and ends with a survey of the philosophers from late antiquity to the Renaissance. His aim, he tells us, is to "approach the story of philosophy as a journalist ought to: to rely only on primary sources; to question everything that has become conventional wisdom; and above all, to try to explain it all as clearly as I could". The fruit of this ambitious 10-year project is a compelling history of philosophy with genuinely revelatory power destined to become one of the books of the year. Not only does one come away with a new-found reverence for the ancient philosophers and the largely unacknowledged debt we moderns debt we owe them,--particularly Parmenides, Democritus and Epicurus--but he has the gift of making the old familiar names breathe again.

This is not a book to be dipped into in search of favourites, but is rather a book to be read cover to cover in order to expose oneself to the cumulative force of the narrative. Accessible and immensely enjoyable, it is difficult to imagine a better book of its kind in recent years. Beginners, intermediates and even professionals should all get something out of The Dream of Reason. Volume two is on the way, and if the first part is anything to go by, it should be well worth waiting for. --Larry Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Anthony Gottlieb is Executive Editor of The Economist. He studied philosophy at Cambridge University and University College London and has been a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University. He writes regularly for the New York Times Book Review and is the author of a short book, Socrates.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellect, informative, entertaining 1 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Dream of Reason: A History of Western Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance, by Anthony Gottlieb (Norton), 2000, pp. 469.
This book proves that an introduction to the history of Western philosophy does not have to be dull or badly written. The Dream of Reason is a sprawling book, written in an accessible pre-postmodern narrative style. With very few exceptions, we are introduced one by one to male philosophers, long dead, in a time line stretching from the 600's B.C.E. to the beginnings of modern science and philosophy. It has a strong cast of characters, excellent quotations, and a compelling tale to tell of the origins and adventures of reason. The dream is that the universe is intelligible and that we can, finally, make sense of everything.
The history of philosophy is never complete. A single author is limited to connecting some of the dots together, and not all the dots can be connected in one story. A book like this is a sampling from the history of philosophy. The samples show us the birth of reason from a radical questioning of religious and mythical accounts of natural processes, followed by a critical examination of morality and cultural values, in which reason turns within and questions itself. Those early thinkers open up a new world of philosophical reflection on the physical universe, the self and the gods.
The structure is simple. We simply stroll down a time-line meeting noted philosophers, starting with the reputed originator of philosophy, Thales, and moving through history up to Galileo and Descartes. At first, they speak to us in poetry, later, in prose.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and absorbing 20 May 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Anthony Gottlieb's 'The Dream of Reason' (it's title quoting Goya) is a history of Western Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance. Rich with well-argued points, the book is thoroughly absorbing, and a must-have for anybody with the slightest interest in philosophical issues. This volume is the first of two, and, if Gottlieb's forthcoming study of philosophy from Descartes onwards matches the quality of this first outing, they will prove an indespensable duo.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All-round excellence 8 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book arrived in record time and in first-rate condition. The book itself looks exactly as I had hoped - a very readable history of philosophy in the Western World.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1,500 Years of Philosophy Made Fun and Smart 26 Dec 2002
By Ricky Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The subtitle of this book is a history of philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance, but that can be slightly misleading. It is in fact what it claims but it is also much more and a little less. The little less is that only the book's last two chapters cover the period after the death of Aristotle but anyone who has slogged through medieval philosophy will appreciate and understand the author's choices. The good news is how deftly the author, Anthony Gottlieb, covers the topics and philosophers selected. The Dream of Reason is a wonderfully comprehensible volume that glorifies the Greeks, certainly not for getting it precisely right, but for expanding the attempts to actually get it (it, of course, being a simple word covering a multitude of complex ideas.) This book is always intelligent and very entertaining. There is no better single place for a reader to go to cover this vast period of time.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it along with Russell 8 Jun 2006
By Noreen M. Novak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am currently reading both The Dream of Reason AND A History of Western Philosophy in tandem. While the claims can be made of one's superiority to the other, I find it immensely helpful to read them together. Gottlieb references Russell a number of times, so having the work right there to read is a must. What Gottlieb lacks in deep understanding, Russell is there to fill in. Likewise, what Russell lacks in outright readability (brilliant beyond belief, but it does tend to get dry), Gottlieb makes up for in his flowing writing style.

I cannot and will not mar either work, as I think they (begrudgingly or not) feed off of and make each other that much better.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep, Readable & Investigative 28 July 2004
By N N Taleb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I could not put it down. It hit me at some point that I was at the intersection of readability and scholarship. Clearly the value of this book lies beyond its readability: Gottlieb is both a philosopher and a journalist (in the good sense), not a journalist who writes about philosophy. He investigates and provides a fresh look at the material: For instance what we bemoan as the flaws of Aristotelianism during the scholastic period came 2000 years after his work. Aristotle had an empirical bent --his followers are the ones to blame.
I liked his constant questioning of the labels put on philosophers and philosophies by the second hand readers.
Clearly he missed a few authors who deserve real coverage like Algazali, but I take what I can get.
The only other readable history of philosophy is Russell's. This one was less hurriedly put together.

Someone should bug the author to hurry with the sequel on Locke, Hume, etc.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Plato's Cave, with the lights on 1 April 2007
By Thomas L. Jeffers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As other reviewers have mentioned, Anthony Gottlieb's competition is Bertrand Russell, whose potboiler History of Philosophy has turned out to be his most enduring work, and (not mentioned) Will Durant's popularizing Story of Philosophy, much disdained by people who've never read it, and fondly remembered by those who, usually in youth, were through it glad to discover that philosophy could be more stimulating, and in the end less dogmatic, than religion. Gottlieb has directly earned a place in Russell and Durant's company, and one can only hope he'll someday bring the tale into the 20th century. His exposition is masterly--free of jargon, funny, common-sensical--and his feel for metaphor almost always perfect. A lone example: "While Plato wanted to leave the dark Cave of physical reality and find something better, Aristotle said that the Cave was not so bad once you turned the lights on--particularly if you started dissecting the animals in it. The beauty which Plato appreciated best in unrealized, unworldly ideals, Aristotle saw all around him" (p. 233). Your garden-variety philosophy professor isn't half so good. Take her course if you must, but read Gottlieb's book.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable, Comprehensible Philosophy 26 Dec 2002
By "hsgfrombc" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Anthony Gottlieb delivers a readable, enjoyable history of philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance in The Dream of Reason, although the history is predominantly of the Greeks, particularly the big three, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (only the last two chapters cover the period after the death of Aristotle but the author makes a healthy, believable excuse for this). The book makes the ideas comprehensible and, often, funny which four years of medieval and classical studes at university often failed to do. Passing over the more scholastic medieval arguments now seems like a wise choice the author made. The history of philosophy, in this author's capable hands, seems important, relevant and, most suprising, quite interesting. At times he may seem a tad generous to each of the ancient philosophers but he cleverly backs up everything he states. A good book for those looking to plunge into this topic.
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