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Russell: The History Of Western Philosophy [Unabridged] [Naxos AudioBooks: NA0136] (Naxos Audiobooks Non-Fiction) Audio CD – Audiobook, 30 Sep 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 30 pages
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks (30 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843797399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843797395
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 6.1 x 13.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 534,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'Remains unchallenged as the perfect introduction to its subject ... exactly the kind of philosophy that most people would like to read, but which only Russell could possibly have written.' - Ray Monk, University of Southampton, UK

'Beautiful and luminous prose, not merely classically clear but scrupulously honest.' - Isaiah Berlin

'It is a witty bird's-eye view of the main figures in Western thought enlivened by references to the personalities and quirks of the thinkers themselves.' - The Week

'A great philosopher's lucid and magisterial look at the history of his own subject, wonderfully readable and enlightening.' - The Observer

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

As part of our commitment to Russell publishing, the delux version of this bestselling title will continue to be available. Paperback: ISBN: 0415-078547 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not a philosophy student myself, and I find Bertrand Russell's acerbic style extremely readable. The 2 inch thick book is fascinating, funny and too short. Bertrand Russell's style is not the dry, carefully unbiased style of the accademic, but a colourful walk through several millenia of philosophers and their work. I would thoroughly recommend this book to any readers who have an interest in the development of moral, ethical and analytical thought in Europe.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first read this as a young man in the early 50's and it has informed my thinking more than I can describe. Re-reading it with the perspective of a lifetime's experience of political, ethical and religious developments has proved fascinating. Russell treats with repect the complex issues that have engaged thinkers throughout the millenia even when he clearly disagrees with their conclusions. As he says, to understand someone else's views properly you must first suspend criticism and seek to enter into the mind set of that person, and ask what has influenced him in coming to his conclusions. Only then can you start to evaluate the evidence supporting or undermining that position. This is also true in one's approach to this book because much has happened since it was written, particularly in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and evolutionary theory, that casts new light on many of the most fundamental philosophical issues. Even as a first-time read this is an outstanding overview of the way great thinkers have influenced the way we think today and the still unresolved issues that, if we are serious thinkers ourselves, we still seek to resolve.
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Format: Paperback
There are two things you are almost certain to utter constantly to yourself while reading this book: "It can't be that simple!" and "this cannot possibly be true!". A direct result of Russell's lucid presentation on the one hand, that makes seemingly impenetrable concepts readily understandable, and his almost insolent bravery on the other, not shying away from exposing the darker sides of revered philosophers who, if you only happen to have heard of as names, you will be left wondering and slightly ashamed that someone is so ardently criticizing (and even lambasting in several instances).

When I first read this book at a rather young age, I found it both compelling, as well as hard to believe in. Reading someone presenting Plato as an elitist prick with an openly totalitarian agenda, not to mention the attacks against Rousseau or Nietzsche, you are left thinking that this should better be taken with a grain of salt or two. And that's the way it should be. Contrary to what the title suggests, this isn't a history of philosophy in the usual sense. This is a history of philosophy through Russell-O-Vision and it is more than intentionally biased, or better said, tinged. This actually adds a lot to the intrigue of the text and makes the narrative quite spicy and interesting to a level that an actual history would never match. And it leaves no doubts to the reader that there is so much more to philosophy and its history than is written here. This isn't an all-encompassing, encyclopedic reference of western philosophy. It is more of a tease and it constantly hints to further subjects for study - this is actually one of its charms.
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Format: Paperback
Best book on philosophy that I know of. But don't get the idea that it's simple: Russell's style is clear, and he is witty, and this can lead readers to think his material is simple; but Russell now and then puts in very sharp and complicated theory-of-types analysis. Its divided mostly into names, which is handy for anyone dipping into the views of Parmenides, Plato, Bacon, Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Spinoza, John Stuart Mill, Marx, Nietzsche... there's a long list. Russell is happy to admit that academic philosophers have usually been cowardly types, and admits many names (e.g. Byron) not normally considered philosophers.

Russell's style is so convincing he was often plagiarised - unconscious imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. Joad (who copied Russell on Marx), and Aldous Huxley (who based Brave New World on a Russell work) are just two examples.

There are innumerable asides, which I presume (he wrote and assembled this book aged about 70) were the fruit of discussions in his youth and middle age; on psychology, groups, sex, emotions, animals, ethics, totalitarianism, adventures, trade - a vast range of topics.

I recommend this to everyone willing to take some trouble. I've met many people who would have benefitted from its intellectual stiffening - for example a gifted physics man who couldn't seem to grasp that atoms are mostly holes, even though they don't look that way. And who had never understood that the square root of two is 'irrational'. Hoary problems - 'universals', 'analytical' and 'synthetic', 'induction', 'teleology', 'determinism' - appear here and there, and it can do no harm to know about them.
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