The product of 11 years of research, The Story of Philosophy is an endlessly inspiring and instructive chronicle of the world's greatest thinkers, from Socrates to Santayana. Written with exacting and scrupulous scholarship, it was designed both to command the respect of educators and to capture the interest of the layman.
Durant lucidly describes the philosophical systems of such world-famous "monarchs of the mind" as Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Spinoza, Kant, Voltaire, and Nietzsche. Along with their ideas, he offers their flesh-and-blood biographies, placing their thoughts within their own time and place and elucidating their influence on our modern intellectual heritage. This book is packed with wisdom and wit.
Will Durant (1885-1981) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He spent over 50 years writing his critically acclaimed 11-volume series The Story of Civilization. A champion of human-rights issues such as social reform and the brotherhood of man long before they were popular, he continues to educate and entertain readers and listeners worldwide through his writings.
©1926 Will Durant (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A delight." (New York Times)
"Easily the most engaging writer of Western intellectual history in the English language, Will Durant breathes life into philosophers and their ideas. He is colorful, witty, and above all, informative." (Amazon.com review)
These three volumes are a very pleasant easy ride through the philosophies of Plato & Aristotle (in detail), and then Bacon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Schopenhauer, Spencer, Nietzsche and on into 'contemporary' i.e. early 20th century European (Bergson, Croce and Russell) and US philosophers (James & Dewey).
The thing is they are a very odd selection to choose from, and not necessarily the key figures who have shaped Western thinking! However, it is an interesting journey, well told... and well read with authoritative american easiness.
I found myself drifting into a reverie during some bits, and it didn't seem to matter. The book is not a concise set of factoids, but a gentle swim through the enlightenment in some slightly strange company!
This is a great way to learn about the greats
Written before the 2nd world war - but can predict many modern society problems
Voice is dry and writing too equivocal in places - but a classic
An excellent work that would serve as both an introduction to some of key themes in Western philosophical thought since the pre-Socratics for the uninitiated or as a consolidation of these key themes to anyone not already an expert in the field. It is not a comprehensive introduction but instead focusses on the development of significant themes. The book works through the historical and political context of the development of epistemological thought and does so (with the justifable exception of Kant!) mostly in the philosophers' own words. What makes the book outstanding is that it deals not only with some of the better known names, such as Plato and Kant, but misses out some of the more obvious names (such as Descartes) to develop their thought through the work of brilliant and often overlooked modern thinkers, such as William James. Excellently read and compelling listening. One of the best summative accounts of philosophy I've come across. If you are at all interested in philosophy you should download this.
My apologies, Grover Gardner, honestly, but please please stop reading audibooks. You sound like a computer program reading out text. It ruined this book for me which, because of your voice, I still have not finished. What I have heard of Durant so far is intelligent, extremely eloquent, very easy to follow and supremely interesting. Hats off to the author, but the voice, oh my god, the voice.
This is a wonderful book; beautifully written and narrated. Not only does the author manage to draw you through the metaphysical mazes that these men dream up (and yes, they’re all men) but he also humanises the people, and put their lives into historical and social context. Whether it’s the spark and sizzle of Voltaire, or the repulsive (to me, at least) doctrine that Nietzsche espoused, you can’t help but empathise with them. Thoroughly enjoyable - if at times quite hard work (Kant comes to mind) - I’d recommend this classic work to anyone attempting to find a way into philosophy.
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