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.