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A brilliant and concise account of the lives and ideas of the great philosophers—Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Kant, Schopenhauer, Spencer, Nietzsche, Bergson, Croce, Russell, Santayana, James, and Dewey—The Story of Philosophy is one of the great books of our time. Few write for the non-specialist as well as Will Durant, and this book is a splendid example of his eminently readable scholarship. Durant’s insight and wit never cease to dazzle; The Story of Philosophy is a key book for any reader who wishes to survey the history and development of philosophical ideas in the Western world.

Topics: Enlightenment, Medieval Period, The Renaissance, Panoramic, Philosophers, Ethics, Astrology, Democracy, Existentialism, Humanism, Morality, Death, and Western Civilization

Published: Simon & Schuster on
ISBN: 9781476702605
List price: $8.99
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I always feel that it's cheating to read a book about an author or thinker rather than going straight to the source. Cliffnotes are an abomination; I'm even suspicious of biographies and encyclopedia entries. This is why I had to buy a second bookshelf to house all those ridiculously large books by dead philosophers. Source-snobbery aside, I do think Will Durant is a genius at distilling impossible ideas to their essence and explaining them with a clarity that does not in any way diminish or dumb them down. Sure, his book is frustratingly broad, and since it was written in the 1920s it lacks a handful of vital philosophers like Wittgenstein and Heidegger, but it's the one I'd recommend in a heartbeat to anyone wanting to know more about philosophy but unsure where to begin, or to someone like myself who has read a fair bit of the originals but only half understands.more
This book follows the threads of speculative thought in the Western world through certain dominant personalities. It excludes epistemology, which it relegates to psychology, and understands philosophy to be a synthetic interpretation of all experience. Science gives us empirical knowledge. It is the role of philosophy to synthesize that knowledge into wisdom.Is it a difficult read? Yes, at times. This book is not for everyone. But Will Durant is a good guide. No one could make Spinoza or Kant easy, but he makes them accessible, if the reader will apply some effort. Have a notebook handy because you will encounter lots of keepers, bits of priceless wisdom you will want to save.Durant draws critical conclusions about these various philosophers, their strengths and weaknesses, and shows how they relate to one another. A rewarding read, if chewed well and thoroughly digested.more
Perfect book if you are new to philosophy. It was for me. I really liked how he mixed the philosophers main ideas with the history of when they presented them. This made it more interesting and helped put into perspective how the times shaped their works. While I enjoyed this book I will need a break before I listen to the second volume.more
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Reviews

I always feel that it's cheating to read a book about an author or thinker rather than going straight to the source. Cliffnotes are an abomination; I'm even suspicious of biographies and encyclopedia entries. This is why I had to buy a second bookshelf to house all those ridiculously large books by dead philosophers. Source-snobbery aside, I do think Will Durant is a genius at distilling impossible ideas to their essence and explaining them with a clarity that does not in any way diminish or dumb them down. Sure, his book is frustratingly broad, and since it was written in the 1920s it lacks a handful of vital philosophers like Wittgenstein and Heidegger, but it's the one I'd recommend in a heartbeat to anyone wanting to know more about philosophy but unsure where to begin, or to someone like myself who has read a fair bit of the originals but only half understands.more
This book follows the threads of speculative thought in the Western world through certain dominant personalities. It excludes epistemology, which it relegates to psychology, and understands philosophy to be a synthetic interpretation of all experience. Science gives us empirical knowledge. It is the role of philosophy to synthesize that knowledge into wisdom.Is it a difficult read? Yes, at times. This book is not for everyone. But Will Durant is a good guide. No one could make Spinoza or Kant easy, but he makes them accessible, if the reader will apply some effort. Have a notebook handy because you will encounter lots of keepers, bits of priceless wisdom you will want to save.Durant draws critical conclusions about these various philosophers, their strengths and weaknesses, and shows how they relate to one another. A rewarding read, if chewed well and thoroughly digested.more
Perfect book if you are new to philosophy. It was for me. I really liked how he mixed the philosophers main ideas with the history of when they presented them. This made it more interesting and helped put into perspective how the times shaped their works. While I enjoyed this book I will need a break before I listen to the second volume.more
Excellent overview of the significant philosophers and their philosophies throughout history.more
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