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Great Thinkers of the Western World: The Major Ideas and Classic Works of More Than 100 Outstanding Western Philosophers, Physical and Social Scientists, Psychologists, Religious Writers and Theologians Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Collins Reference; 1st edition (September 23, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006270026X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062700261
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.7 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ian P. McGreal received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brown University. Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at California State University, Sacramento, he has also taught at Brown, Southern Methodist University and the University of Maryland. His books include The Art of Making Choices, Analyzing Philosophical Arguments, Problems of Ethics, Great Thinkers of the Western World and Great Thinkers of the Eastern World. In association with Frank N. Magill, he edited Masterpices of World Philosophy, Masterpieces of Christian Literature and Masterpieces of Christian Spirituality.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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It gives, at least, an idea of what some of the great thinkers gave to the world.
Amazon Customer
So while the book admits that his comtemporaries call him an atheist-- but discounts that he was, which I guess also implies that other scholars are simpletons.
Stephen Jay
At the end of the book, there is a "Thinker Index" that lists the names of these great thinkers in alphabetical order.
Stephen Pletko

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pletko on April 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
+++++

This book, edited by philosophy professor Dr. Ian McGreal, has articles on almost 120 outstanding thinkers in Western history. These thinkers, arranged chronologically from past to present, include those who were involved in one of the following six fields: (1) philosophy (2) physical science (3) social science (4) psychology (5) religious writing (6) theology. This book begins with a great thinker who lived circa (515 BC to 450 BC) and ends with one who lived from (1913 to 1960).

This book can be thought of as a guide or, for some, an introduction to the works and ideas of some of the most creative and influential thinkers of the Western world. It "cannot make everyone an expert in any of the fields the book covers, but it can...provide a foothold on...the illuminating theories and perspectives that have shaped the modern mind and left their traces in the history of human accomplishments."

How were these great thinkers chosen? The editor explains: "We have tried to include the most original, creative, and influential thinkers...but we have also recognized the importance of representing the diversity of significant Western thought, even though the result may be that some thinkers that deserve to be regarded as great have been left out, while others that might not be universally regarded as 'great' have been included."

At the beginning of the book, there is a list of more than thirty distinguished professors and academics who contributed articles.

At the end of the book, there is a "Thinker Index" that lists the names of these great thinkers in alphabetical order.

The articles for each thinker all have the same standard format consisting of seven parts:

(1) The person's name.
(2) Birth date.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daryl Broussard on September 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A wide ranging romp through the minds of the philosophers, theologians, physicists, and mathematicians that make up much of Western Thought.
The lives, motivations, major works and ideas of Plato, Martin Luther, Voltaire, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Charles Darwin, and over one-hundred more big-brained sorts are covered by 35 equally brainy scholars, in short chapters, averaging about 5 pages apiece; most of the writing here is quite readable, but some were, at least for me, like wading through sludge.
Suggested reading is provided for those who wish to furter their studies of the intellectually-abundant.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Jay on April 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book might be worth $21, (used price), as the thinker's ideas presented in one place are surely great reference material.
Other book reviews here discuss the content and layout so I will only add a comment about the religious bias it seems to have because one wouldn't expect it since it is neither suggested by the title or mentioned anywhere. I feel like it has a hidden, dishonest agenda of making it look as though the great thinkers thought more highly of religion than they really did.

For example in discussing David Hume, it reads "the charge that he was an atheist seems a gross oversimplification of the quite complex and sophisticated views he held" Well I'm no expert on Hume but he was the ultimate skeptic who neither believed in miracles or God. So while the book admits that his comtemporaries call him an atheist-- but discounts that he was, which I guess also implies that other scholars are simpletons.
It concludes by saying, "one might say that Hume could well have been speaking for himself when at the end of the Dialogues he puts the following words in Philo's mouth:'...The cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence....". But if you look up that quote, they left off the front of it which clearly indicates that Philo doesn't agree with that statement. The sentence starts "If the whole of natural theology, as some people seem to maintain, resolves itself into one simple, though somewhat ambiguous, at least undefined proposition, that the cause... "So he's not saying what the anthology says he is. You can read the Dialogues at [...
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book was fair but not the type of book you can't put down. The problem is that too many individuals are covered and in too little detail. It reads like a dictionary.
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