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on 10 November 2017
Nothing compares to it. The definitive book for anyone wishing to have a comprehensive overview of Western philosophy. While not a difficult read (try Geertz!) it is also not one for those that like to just skim through things. It is best read in 2 or 3 hour slots, each one covering a chapter (or two). Then rest and absorb. Repeat. Once done from end to end, it then becomes an excellent quick reference book, should you need to look something up. It is also (I believe) the most read philosophy book in the world, being a standard for many first year university courses.
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on 26 January 2016
Russell sets out to demonstrate the evolution of Western philosophy by describing individual philosophers in more or less detail according to his view of their importance both as individuals and the significance of their work. He succeeds admirably and in doing so, the sum greater than the parts.

I came to this having been dissatisfied with studying the French revolution because standard texts weren't making sense about the motivation of individuals. I now have a better understanding of how the way individuals and populations think about things can change.

This book could enrich your understanding of any period of Western history .
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on 18 December 2007
Being an engineering student, the closest brush I had with the formal study of philosophy was a few university courses, which I barely passed. Therefore, I decided to buy Bertrand Russell's classic work in order to refresh my knowledge. I wish I had done it earlier.

Bertrand Russell, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, enlivens philosophy-from ancient Greece to today. His account is lengthy, as any account of such a subject should, but well worth it. How else does one condense 3000 years of Western intellectual history in one volume?

I liked the pace of the book. He begins with a definition of philosophy and its roots in the Ancient world. It is not so much a list of facts as it is a discussion of the ideas of the Ancients. Absurd though it seems to us today, the leap from religious explanations to material for nature was ground-breaking. He then follows philosophy as it slithers through the Middle Ages, into the Renaissance and into the Modern Period. I particularly like the way he treated the medieval philosophers, like Aquinas and Ockam. I wish my philosophy professor at Univerity could have explained nominalism that way.

The work is an introduction to the subject. By definition, it is superficial in a few areas. I would have liked to see more about how contemporary (to Russell) issues like the Worlds Wars were connected to eighteenth century European thinkers such as Hegel.

In conclusion, it is a great read. One I recommend for any reflective 16-year old, who is thinking about studying an applied science like engineering. Russell's work is a great introduction to the subject. It will enable one to see where our currently rational, scientific tradition springs from.
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on 23 July 2013
Bertrand Russell was an intelligent, engaging and entertaining man; his History of Western Philosophy reflects his personality. Most of the chapters are quite short (about 10 pages or so) and can be read as if listening to an amusing and well educated 'after dinner' speaker. Russell doesn't mince his words: " .... Aristotles merits are enormous ... [but] ... his demerits are equally enormous." comes at the beginning of the chapter on Aristortles metaphysics. Elsewhere he refers to "infantile" beliefs and he loses no time in exposing formal errors and logical mistakes. There are useful general chapters placing philosophers and their thoughts in a broader historical context such as "The Hellenistic World" and "The Italian Renaissance". First published in 1946 it's not surprising that Russell was at pains to avoid dogma and fanatical world views. He asks us all to examine, with honesty and sympathy the evidence we have before us for, as Richard Feynman said, "Nature can not be fooled". I recommend this book - make reading it an item on your 'Bucket list'.
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on 12 March 2018
An excellent work, an essential part of the Western canon, and recommended for anyone who wants to improve and deepen their knowledge of our civilization.

I'm pleased with the voice and the quality of the reading.
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on 12 July 2010
This is an excellent introduction to philosophy.It is written in a compelling manner which flows well and is not encumbered by verbose or overly technical language.Even though this is a long book with a high minded subject matter it is not an intellectually arduous undertaking and should be within the capabilities of those with a modest educational background.
The only negative criticism I'd level against it was due to mid-section,which dealt with the relation between state and church in the middle ages.I felt it contained rather too much history than was necessary to establish the relationship between social and political situation and philosophical theory.That aside I'd recommend it to anyone who needs a general knowledge of the subject but is not prepared to plunge too deep or just skim the surface.
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on 10 July 2017
Top class. He gives philosophical and wider cultural and historical background to each topic, he throws in some poetry. He compares philosophies and critiques them, sometimes scathingly and almost always respectfully. The book is highly entertaining and informative.
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on 4 March 2012
This is mostly an enjoyable, somewhat rambling, journey through the history of western philosophy. It is mostly well written, occasionally quite opinionated (although I guess Russell should claim some right to be opinionated!). But read this if you are interested in the history of ideas, or to see the linkages between various branches of philosophy - do not imagine that you will be reading a philosophical book in its own right. This is a pointer to philosophy, and a great history, but it is not a deeply critical analysis of philosophical ideas.
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on 7 August 2017
Purchased this for my father who thought it a masterpiece and had lost his own copy. A very good reflection that will enlighten the area t those who are interested.
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on 20 July 2012
I had at school part of the works of B. R. and I started to appreciate his way of looking at the world and at man living in it. So I bought all his books that were available in Italian. However most of all I loved reading and reading again the History of the Western Philosphy. I found it in Amazon and resolved to purchase it at once. I got the book as it was promised in time and in a perfect shape.
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