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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Overall Survey of Western Philosophy: A New Classic
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...
Published on June 28, 2011 by Kevin Armistead

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I expected more from Kenny. As noted in other ...
I expected more from Kenny. As noted in other reviews he stops at Derrida around 1975. Not much new here on earlier philosophers We badly need a history of philosophy covering post Sartre to 2010 or so. Has nothing of value been done in philosophy for 40 years? .
Published 3 months ago by Dave B.


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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Overall Survey of Western Philosophy: A New Classic, June 28, 2011
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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. Even if said reader is well educated in philosophy this book will increase one's overall understanding so that they may go on to, through other books, better learn of the great many philosophical specifics. I will both gladly and hastily recommend this book as the first for anyone to gain knowledge in philosophy. Surely this will become the standard survey into western philosophy for the next half-century.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it!, January 14, 2011
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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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small imperfections mar Kindle version of a splendid work, November 14, 2013
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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". At another, on motion, there are apostrophes representing the primes in p' and p", which is not pretty but suffices. Then suddenly they disappear and what should read « p' to p" » now reads on the Kindle « p to p ». Again, for some reason on the Kindle a space is introduced into the term "not-p" so that it becomes "not -p" and the reader stumbles briefly over whether the hyphen represents the ¬ sign for negation (location about 3138).

There are no illustrations in the Kindle version. The map, as usual on my Paperwhite, is useless.

The page numbers are continuous, doubtless representing those of the one-volume edition of the work rather than of the separately published volumes. The frequent headings (hyperlinked as already mentioned), rather than the page numbers, allow one quite easily to relate the Kindle text to one of the printed editions.

Greek letters get very uneven treatment in the Kindle version: sometimes a proper, scalable Greek letter is used; sometimes a Roman letter equivalent based on the letter's appearance (e.g. Zeta and Zed/Zee); sometimes a Roman letter equivalent based on the letter's position the respective alphabets (e.g. Zeta and F); and sometimes a non-scalable graphic. (A lower-case Greek Phi given the latter treatment looks rather like a smudge on the screen.) Examples follow - all from Volume One, where there are frequent references to Aristotle's "Metaphysics":

Book Delta of the "Metaphysics" is referred to in the print version using the Greek capital letter (Δ), but in the Kindle it appears as book "D". You would expect Book Zeta to cause no problems (capital Zeta (Ζ) and the modern equivalent (Z) being effectively identical) - but sometimes it becomes the capital letter F.

In "Aristotle on Science and Illusion", references to book Gamma use a proper Greek letter Γ (capital Gamma).

In "Essence and Quiddity", references to Book Zeta are to Book F (e.g. location 4112 approx); those to Delta start out by being to D, which then revert to a genuine scalable character Δ (Delta) for the reference to 7.1017a22.

In "Being and Existence", references to book Delta are given as if to book D, and references to book Zeta are to book F. Beta becomes B, and Eta correctly looks like our H. Book Gamma is referred to with mini-picture Γ (capital Gamma) (location 4286 approx).

There is a Kindle typo in the Bibliography for Aristotle (Chapter 2), where the edition of what is called "Metaphysics M and H" should refer to "Metaphysics M and N".

Readers wanting to follow up references to Aristotle will have to be guided by prior knowledge or by the print edition.

As noticed already, footnotes are hyperlinked. The question is whether the links are accurate. A few soundings suggest that mostly they take you perfectly to the required place. In one place (Part 4, Ch 8, n 1) the print version directs you, correctly, to some sections on medieval ethics, while the Kindle hyperlink takes you to one section earlier (to Abelard rather than Aquinas); in another, (Part 4, Ch 11, n 4), the print version directs you to the starting page of the section on "Aristotle's Political Theory", while the Kindle takes you to a more precise location within that section, a few physical pages on.

Reading these pages on the Kindle is generally a delight, but it would be good to see the noticed imperfections corrected.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like this one, you will like..., July 30, 2011
By 
Stephen Ferg (Tucson, Arizona, United States) - See all my reviews
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very highly recommended as a key acquisition!, February 21, 2011
A New History of Western Philosophy offers a fine definitive collection of philosophical history and ideas from ancient to modern times, and is a recommended pick for any library seeking writings on philosophy and its history, whether it be a general or school collection. Four fine books blend into one volume and come from a scholar who chronologically discusses works from Cicero to Freud, offering social, political, and philosophical history in the first major single-author narrative to appear in decades. Very highly recommended as a key acquisition!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, March 18, 2014
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This review is from: A New History of Western Philosophy (Paperback)
I have over the years read several histories of Western Philosophy, and this is the best of the lot. Professor Kenny gives the reader a thorough, comprehensive, and readable account of philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the present, introducing the reader to the ideas of major thinkers and the themes that have preoccupied philosophers over time in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, politics, religion, and aesthetics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I expected more from Kenny. As noted in other ..., August 25, 2014
By 
Dave B. "dabouras" (melrose park, Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
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I expected more from Kenny. As noted in other reviews he stops at Derrida around 1975. Not much new here on earlier philosophers We badly need a history of philosophy covering post Sartre to 2010 or so. Has nothing of value been done in philosophy for 40 years? .
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Challenge to read -- A greater challenge to SEE!, February 15, 2014
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This is a challenging book. Kenny is a clear expounder of a difficult subject and a forceful critic.

But the FIRST challenge lies in seeing the text clearly enough to actually READ this 1,000 page heavy tome. And unless you are gifted with at least 20/10 vision, I wouldn't recommend the attempt.

I wonder if the original four-volume publication employed a larger and darker typeface. But in any case it would be easier to heft!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Marvelous History, July 14, 2014
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This review is from: A New History of Western Philosophy (Paperback)
This is a brilliantly written book that successfully balances the historical and philosophical detail of western thought since the early Greeks. While I have not read Russell's acclaimed title, I can confidently say that this history is exactly what I needed as an average reader of philosophy with a desire to expand my knowledge of the discipline and achieve a broader understanding of the contributions of its major figures and movements.

As others have pointed out, this history is particularly unique for its acknowledgement of thinkers that are traditionally excluded from histories of philosophy but which have influenced the development of philosophy in lasting and compelling ways. Additionally, and most surprisingly, Sir Kenny's history remains remarkably accessible and enjoyable throughout without sacrificing clarity and precision. Truly a unique contribution and one that will likely grow in acclaim as years go on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome., December 3, 2014
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theMazeSays (Northern Virginia) - See all my reviews
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Can't complain that I missed out on a classical education any more.
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A New History of Western Philosophy
A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny (Paperback - October 15, 2012)
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