The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Reinaissance Paperback – 27 Sep 2001
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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 -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.
A delight. It is written with both wit and scholarship, providing a wonderful overall picture of Western philosophy up to the Renaissance. (Sir Roger Penrose)
[Gottlieb] writes with fluency and lucidity, with a gift for making even difficult matters seem comprehensible. (Richard Jenkins New York Times)
Gottlieb is as enjoyable as he is intellectually stimulating. (Robert Conquest Los Angeles Times) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Paperback.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
I must add that it reads so well, that you read it for fun as well as knowledge.
An excellent book!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
Also recommended: FREUD: DARKNESS IN THE MIDST OF VISION, by Louis Breger.
Then, Gottlieb in a blink of an eye, minimizes over 1000 years of philosophy. He scoffs at Augustine as if Augustine were a child writing philosophy with a crayon. Anselm and William of Ockham fare no better. Aquinas warrants half a page. Forget about Machiavelli. His treatment was not just one of omission, Gottlieb affirmatively debases everything not Greek in thought.
The hard part comes with deciding the value of "The Dream of Reason." It does have value for its treatment of the Greeks. It does have value in the fact it makes Greek philosophy accessible to the uninitiated. If "The Dream of Reason" only sought to handle the Greeks, it may warrant a 4 or even 5 star review. However, whatever good is achieved in the first 300 or so pages, is completely undone by the injustice Gottlieb does to the other 1000 years of philosophy. You certainly can't call the title of the book a "HISTORY of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance." I get it, Gottlieb does not like philosophy after the Greeks but you cannot call your work a HISTORY if you are unwilling to treat your subject with at least a grudging objectivity.