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History Of Western Philosophy Paperback – 2016
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History Of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, 1138694754, 9781138694750, Routledge Classics
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The waitress asked "Are you reading that for a school project?"; and I replied "No, I'm reading it for fun."
I don't think she believed me. But it was true. For those who have never read Russell, this may seem implausible to the point of grotesqueness; but in fact he has an economy of verbiage, razor-sharp analytical faculties, an encyclopædic grasp of his subject, and (especially) a dry wit that make light work of the most cumbrous material. I've now read this several times, and enjoyed it every time.
(Too bad he died before Postmodernism and Poststructuralism got a serious grip — I'd have loved to have seen what he had to say about those!)
A lengthy commentary would be easy, but I'll leave that to others. What I will do is give you the complete table of contents, so you can decide whether you want to give this a go:
• BOOK 1 — ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
- The Pre-Socratics
01 The Rise of Greek Civilisation
02 The Milesian School
07 Athens in Relation to Culture
09 The Atomists
- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
12 The Influence of Sparta
13 The Sources of Plato's Opinions
14 Plato's Utopia
15 The Theory of Ideas
16 Plato's Theory of Immortality
17 Plato's Cosmogony
18 Knowledge and Perception in Plato
19 Aristotle's Metaphysics
20 Aristotle's Ethics
21 Aristotle's Politics
22 Aristotle's Logic
23 Aristotle's Physics
24 Early Greek Mathematics and Astronomy
- Ancient Philosophy after Aristotle
25 The Hellenistic World
26 Cynics and Sceptics
27 The Epicureans
29 The Roman Empire in Relation to Culture
• BOOK 2 — CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHY
- The Fathers
01 The Religious Development of the Jews
02 Christianity During the First Four Centuries
03 Three Doctors of the Church
04 Saint Augustine's Philosophy and Theology
05 The Fifth and Sixth Centuries
06 Saint Benedict and Gregory the Great
- The Schoolmen
07 The Papacy in the Dark Ages
08 John the Scot
09 Ecclesiastical Reform in the Eleventh Century
10 Mohammedan Culture and Philosophy
11 The Twelfth Century
12 The Thirteenth Century
13 Saint Thomas Aquinas
14 Franciscan Schoolmen
15 The Eclipse of the Papacy
• BOOK 3 — MODERN PHILOSOPHY
- From the Renaissance to Hume
01 General Characteristics
02 The Italian Renaissance
04 Erasmus and More
05 The Reformation and Counter-Reformation
06 The Rise of Science
07 Francis Bacon
08 Hobbes's Leviathan
12 Philosophical Liberalism
13 Locke's Theory of Knowledge
14 Locke's Political Philosophy
15 Locke's Influence
- From Rousseau to the Present Day
18 The Romantic Movement
21 Currents of Thought in the Nineteenth Century
26 The Utilitarians
27 Karl Marx
29 William James
30 John Dewey
31 The Philosophy of Logical Analysis
Russell wrote a systematic account of western philosophy. Indeed the book is extremely systematic in its content. You can find its praise, appreciations everywhere, it is really worth praising. Nobody has ever written so systematically and gracefully as Russell has written.
But I must say something about criticism.
First, he gave only 10 pages to Socrates. On Aristotle, Plato, you are spending about 40 to 50 pages but only 10 pages has been bestowed on Socrates, who is the source of both Aristotle (I myself call him Aristotlitis, a kind of disease) and Plato.
Second, he portrayed 'Friedrich Nietzsche' only negatively, in the way of war-loving, misogynist.
Nietzsche's exuberant insights didn't fit into the definitions of Russell's intellectualism. Russell could not understand Nietzsche and Wittgenstein and their profound insights.
In the end, I would say that one must read this great work, which is free from all the theologies and religious prejudices.
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