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Great Books of the Western World (54 Volumes) Hardcover – May, 1987


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 32000 pages
  • Publisher: Encyclopaedia Britannica (May 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085229476X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852294765
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 93.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,108,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Keep up the great services!!!
Vincent Nguyen
If tracing out the history of the main ideas that shaped Western civilization appeals to you, this is your set of Great Books.
Hermogenes
These 1st 3 books alone are worth their weight in gold.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 101 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on November 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This was the finest single set of books that I ever owned. They are the core of a true university education in themselves. Whether you use them for occasional reference, or as a systematic system of home education, they are well worth the price. You will be drawn back to them again and again over the years.

Britannica's Great Books 54 volume set (complete)
Chicago, Encyclopedia Britannica;

The 54 volumes are:
1) The Great Conversation;
2) The Great Ideas I;
3) The Great Ideas II;
4) Homer;
5) Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes;
6) Herodotus, Thucydides;
7) Plato;
8 & 9) Aristotle I & II;
10) Hippocrates, Galen;
11) Euclid, Archimedes, Apollonius, Nicomachus;
12) Lucretius, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius;
13) Virgil;
14) Plutarch;
15) Tacitus;
16) Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler;
17) Plotinus;
18) Augustine;
19-20) Thomas Aquinas I/II;
21) Dante;
22) Chaucer;
23) Machiavelli, Hobbes;
24) Rabelais;
25) Montaigne;
26 & 27) Shakespeare;
28) Gilbert, Galileo, Harvey;
29) Cervantes;
30) Francis Bacon;
31) Descartes, Spinoza;
32) Milton;
33) Pascal;
34) Newton, Huygens;
35) Locke, Berkeley, Hume;
36) Swift, Sterne; 37) Fielding;
38) Montesquieu, Rousseau;
39) Adam Smith;
40 & 41) Gibbon I & II;
42) Kant;
43) American State Papers, The Federalist, JS Mill;
44) Boswell;
45) Lavoisier, Fourier, Faraday;
46) Hegel;
47) Goethe;
48) Melville;
49) Darwin;
50) Marx, Engels;
51) Tolstoy;
52) Dostoevsky;
53) William James;
54) Freud.
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127 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Hermogenes on February 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Let's be honest about these books. The print is cramped, the translations are hideous, and the selections are indeed rooted in a view of Great Books and Great Ideas that, while still quite vibrant, is less robust than it was in 1955. But no one in full control of their senses would sit down and read from cover to cover the Dante, the Homer, the Aristotle found in this set.

All true. But none of that matters. What you are buying here is the first three volumes (especially volumes 2 & 3) and their attendant reference set. I've owned the set for 20 years and found it invaluable because of those three first volumes. Here's how they work:

Volume 1, The Great Conversation, is essentially an inspirational text centered on the importance of a broad Liberal Education, as set against other views of education. You may take or leave it. The treasure house is the next two volumes.

The Syntopicon (volumes 2-3 of the set) is an index of 100 fundamental concepts that built the Euromerican mind and cultural vision. To give you an idea, here is a sample of the Great Ideas:
Art, Beauty, Cause, Chance, Democracy, Desire, Emotion, Eternity, Family, God, Good and Evil, Government, Habit, Happiness, History, Immortality, Infinity, Justice, Labor, Language, Life and Death, Love, Mathematics, Matter, Memory, Oligarchy, Progress, Prophecy, Quantity, Religion, Rhetoric, Sin, Soul, State, Time, Truth. War and Peace, Wisdom.... you get the idea: Big Ideas.

Each of the 100 ideas is introduced with a brief essay that explains it and attempts to sketch out how it has been viewed throughout Western history. The essays are not dumbed down, but most of them are perfectly accessible to most of us.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My parents bought this set probably before I was born (back in the 60's I remember this entire set (on the 2 shelf bookshelf that came with the collection). I never thought much of it and admittedly I don't believe my parents ever really opened any of the books.

Both my parents have passed away (my mother just recently) and now I have the collection.

I was about to sell it but was listening to a podcast on GNOSTIC MEDIA about the TRIVIUM and they mentioned this specific collection.. Not just because of the books in the collection (such as Plato, Aristotle etc) but for the 1st 3 volumes that comprise THE GREAT CONVERSATION and the SYNTOPICON (which is a summary of various main IDEAS (HISTORY, DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM, LOVE, DIALECTIC etc) and then a cross reference of all the works to help direct the reader to specific locations where the great writers discussed these issues. PLUS additional works not included in the collection).

These 1st 3 books alone are worth their weight in gold.

I am a Liberal and really feel that these ideas should be studied.

This is NOT to say that I do not feel that Works from the East or ideas from women and other cultures and minorities should be overlooked..by all means I think we can expand upon the Great Conversation by investigating newer material and incorporating and contemplating within our thinking.. but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. This collection is a great place to start to informing oneself about these Great Ideas and move on from there. It is not about what to think.. but how to think.

One of the greatest gifts I think my parents left me.!
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