A Little History of Philosophy (Little Histories) Paperback – 11 Sep 2012
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'Warburton packs a heck of a lot in to what is something of a Goldilocks volume: neither too much nor too little, the exegesis neither too thin or too thick and lumpy, his Little History can be consumed as a nourishing treat in its own rights or provide the perfect fuel to kick-start anyone s journey into philosophy.' --Julian Baggini, The Observer
'Survey of the entire history of (western) philosophy through short intellectual biographies of 40 philosophers from Socrates to Peter Singer, in as broadly approachable a style as EH Gombrich s A Little History of the World. A tall order; that Warburton (of the excellent podcast Philosophy Bites) has succeeded so well is a triumph.' --Steven Poole, The Guardian
'The magic of Nigel Warburton s book is its disarming accessibility. It closely follows the template of A Little History Of The World Ernst Gombrich s 1935 introductory text for children, recently translated by Yale and Warburton is the ideal shout for a writer to match Gombrich s terse charm and easy authority. Anyone who s enjoyed Warburton s brilliant podcast series, Philosophy Bites , where he and fellow demystifier David Edmonds half-nelson academics into spelling out their theories, will know he has a special gift for defusing complexity.' --Chris Brown, Time Out
About the Author
Nigel Warburton is senior lecturer in philosophy, The Open University. He is the author of several popular introductions to philosophy and is the interviewer on the Philosophy Bites podcast. He lives in Oxford.
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An excellent book for the general reader, like myself, who would simply like to learn a bit more about philosophy. I suspect that it might be too lightweight for an undergraduate seriously studying Philosophy at university.
Highly recommended for the general reader.
Did he omit certain philosophers? I'm sure he did, but then again: this is explicitly a short history of philosophy, and judging it by that standard I cannot find fault with it. Of course, one could argue that as a novice I am hardly in a position to judge, but one thing I can say with absolute certainty: Warburton's book has given me an appetite for more, so Bertrand Russel's History of Western Philosophy (Routledge Classics) is next on my reading list, and surely that is a good thing?
This is a relatively short book, 250 pages in all, given that it attempts to present the ideas of more than 40 major philosophers dating back to Socrates and ending with the living ones like Peter Singer. Written for the lay reader, it is full of examples, presented in plain language, in sections not more than six or seven pages long. There is a conscious attempt to put everything in perspective, each section ends with a prelude to the next, and at other times, there are references made to ideas and works of other philosophers as we read about another one.
As I mentioned, this book goes beyond the basic introduction and generates an interest in the subject. It does so by being practical and establishing relevance to everyday life. A number of questions are explored in the context. People like Darwin, Freud and Kuhn find sections of their own. I ended up recommending this book to friends in other disciplines as a good read and great enabler of intelligent conversations.
Starting with Socrates - who constantly questioned how we live and paid with his life for his questions - the author takes the reader through the history of philosophy up to the present day. Each short chapter deals with an individual philosopher, their life and work. He does this in a relatively light-hearted way which really brings the ideas and the peoples to life.
If you have struggled with philosophy as a subject then do try this book and you may find you are interested in reading more about the individuals discussed. I found the book accessible and interesting as well as entertaining.
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