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A New History of Western Philosophy 1st Edition

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199589883
ISBN-10: 0199589887
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Editorial Reviews


"Kenny's authoritative work, compiling four volumes, is the finest single-author history of Western philosophy since Frederick Copleston- a Herculean task executed with erudition and entertainment. From the dream of the ancient Greeks to the deconstruction of postmodernists, he accessibly treats the major branches of philosophy: ethics, politics, religion, epistemology, language, metaphysics, aesthetics, and logic. --Christopher, Benson --First Things

About the Author

Sir Anthony Kenny is one of Britain's most distinguished academic figures. He has been Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Master of Balliol College, Chairman of the Board of the British Library, and President of the British Academy. He has published more than forty books on philosophy and history.

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Product Details

  • Series: New History of Western Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 1000 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199589887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199589883
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 2.4 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Armistead on June 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If any person is looking for just one book to give them an overview of every major western philosophical notion of the last 2500 years this is it. It does not go into as much detail on some specifics as other great classics such as Russell's not so new version of the same title, or Durant's beautiful Story of Philosophy, but it does cover far more ground than any other work in the sense of understanding the big picture of western philosophy.

In reading this book one will gain the best initial understanding of how a certain philosopher connects to another, or how a certain school of thought leads to the next. This book, it is true, does not go into great detail on any particular philosopher. But that is not what scaping histories are for. If that is what is being sought after, buy individual books on individual philosophers or philosophies.

As far as the authorship goes, it is highly readable. It is not quit as beautiful as Will Durant's prose scholarship (though of course no one's is) but it was about as close as a page-turner comes to non-fiction. I found myself highly fascinated and growing deeper in my understanding of overall philosophy - often going through dozens of pages without even noticing. Each chapter flows logically into the next and makes perfect sense. Kenny certainly mastered the art of high quality scholarship without being pedantic.

Basically, if one is anything less than an expert on western philosophy this book holds value. If one has absolutely no, or at least very little, understanding of philosophy then this book will open a whole new world to their mind.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By GJW on November 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have the highest regard for this history, or I would not have both hardcover and Kindle versions of it. These notes concern the transition to the Kindle format, as experienced on the original Paperwhite.

Navigation is mostly excellent, as it should be for a work which will be used as a work of reference as well as one of which substantial portions will be read from beginning to end: there is a table of contents with the major divisions of each of the Four Parts (originally published separately), and at the start of each Part there is its own more detailed contents section. Cross-references and footnotes are hyperlinked. The only improvement to navigation would be if the page references in the Index were hyperlinked too.

The smaller typeface used in my printed volumes for whole paragraphs of quotation is missing, except in Part Four. Thankfully, in the other Parts there is extra white space before and (usually) after the quoted passage. This white space, plus the almost inevitable reference to the cited work, ensures that in practice one can work out where the quotation ends. However, the conventional layout is there for a reason, and we should not have to deduce where a quotation begins and ends.

Some "tabular" textual layouts (which occur infrequently) are not really satisfactory. So two columns of text (e.g. parallel syllogisms, or the square showing "Intellect, Will, Sensation, Desire" at about location 4670) get run together in a way that is frankly meaningless.

There are some strange and arbitrary changes to the printed text: at one point the transliteration of the Greek for "the now" (an italicised "to nun") loses the italics for the article "to".
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Zaine Ridling on January 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the reviews of its individual volumes, there's little I can add here. The biggest complaints are Kenny's cutoff date of 1975 (30 years to the first volume's publication), that "he didn't give enough pages to Philosopher X!," and that he downplayed the contributions of 20th century Continental philosophers. It's easy to think that our favorite (and recent or current) philosopher is not just a fad but so important that his greatness just isn't appreciated! Yet this is the same complaint with EVERY history of philosophy. Yes, with every single one. Better it would been to have added a fifth volume for 20th century philosophy. At least Kenny recognizes that many philosophies do not survive far beyond their own day and looking back, seem faddish. Thus his short-shrift of postmodernism (Have we really learned much beyond the original writings up to 1981?).

Kenny does something rare, which is to credit the influence that Marx, Darwin, and Freud had on philosophy, even though they rarely can be counted as philosophers. Intended as an introductory undergraduate text, it's really good as such. Don't ask it to be comprehensive and don't ask Kenny to give your favorite philosopher more pages than another in the same period. As is, it's pretty fantastic and a welcome history.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Ferg on July 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Part of what Kenny is trying to do in this series of four volumes is to balance two different approaches to the history of philosophy: the historical and the philosophical. He describes his goal in the introduction to Volume 1, which is available via Amazon's "preview" feature.

He does it well. For example, in the historical section of volume 3 (early modern philosophy) he covers some interesting figures such as Suarez, who were historically important but are generally omitted in more "philosophical" histories of philosophy.

If you like Kenny's history of philosophy and/or are looking for a slightly more "philosophical" history of philosophy, I would also recommend W. T. Jones' 5-volume "History of Western Philosophy". Like Kenny's history, it is very readable and offers stimulating insights.
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