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Medieval Philosophy (A New History of Western Philosophy, Vol. 2)

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198752745
ISBN-10: 0198752741
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Editorial Reviews

Review

`Review from previous edition This wonderful book . . . is not only an authoritative guide to the history of philosophy but also a compelling introduction to every major area of philosophical inquiry. . . . Kennys prose is exceptionally clear . . . He conveys his rich subject matter with a light touch of which only the greatest of writers are capable. . . . This, combined with his breadth and depth of learning and philosophical sophistication, make reading this book hugely rewarding. It is also worth mentioning that the book is beautifully illustrated . . . One is left eager for subsequent volumes and convinced that the intellectual cosmos is, indeed, boundlessly rich.' James Ladyman, Times Higher Education Supplement

About the Author

Anthony Kenny is formerly Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford, and former President, British Academy.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198752741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198752745
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.7 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #785,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
A good introductory survey of philosophical topics as they were treated by various medieval thinkers throughout the entire period, from late antiquity and the commentators of Aristotle, to the inception of the humanists. The survey combines what is properly called intellectual history and philosophy proper. The historical aspect is kept to a minimum (as it ought to be in a philosophy book) without sacrificing salient features of the historical context in which the topic under discussion occurred. The philosophy, on the other hand, is more developed and Kenny has an emphasis on concept explanation, as opposed to explicating arguments; though he does do both at times.

This includes the following topics: God, Mind and Soul, Logic and Language, Knowledge, Physics, Metaphysics, Ethics, as well as an excellent treatment of philosophy and religious belief from Augustine to Maimonides,and scholasticism from the twelfth century renaissance (Abelard and the 'nominales' school) to the so-called renaissance proper (roughly 1360-1550), at which point scholasticism began to give way to the new schoolman, the humanists.

Kenny is especially good at explaining the intellectual current of a given period and how such a current has bearing on the topic at hand, this is particularly seen in his discussion of physics. As such, the historical context of each topic and its subsequent development is presented thoroughly but briefly; however, little attention is given to the explication of any particular thinker's arguments on any given topics. For that reason, you will find little critical analysis of the particular arguments presented.

All in all it's an excellent work, written clearly and informatively, by a very capable philosopher. It's a good introduction for undergraduates at the freshman and sophomore level. But if you've had more than a survey course in medieval philosophy, you need something with a bit more depth.
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Format: Hardcover
This fine book, the second volume in Kenny's A New History of Western Philosophy, provides an overview of the major figures and issues in the philosophy of the European Middle Ages. Kenny takes an "intellectual history" approach in the opening section to provide necessary historical context and biographical information on the major figures he will be discussing. In the longer second part of the book, he turns to philosophical issues per se, tackling, in turn, "Logic and Language," "Knowledge," "Physics," "Metaphysics," "Mind and Soul," "Ethics," and "God." Kenny organizes this discussion around a who's who of the major medieval philosophers, including Augustine, Boethius, Avicenna, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and Ockham. The chapters on ethics and God, topics so important in the Christian philosophical matrix of the Middle Ages, are very good, but it is the chapter on logic and language that stood out to me as being particularly interesting--Kenny highlights the ways in which medieval thinkers were anticipating issues in the philosophy of language that have been very hot topics among philosophers of the last century.

Kenny's book will be useful to anyone with a more-than-casual interest in philosophy or in medieval intellectual history. It may prove too difficult for absolute beginners with no philosophical background. Non-specialist academics and students, among others, will relish the book both for the helpfulness of its content and for the charm and grace of Kenny's writing.
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Format: Paperback
I took classes in philosophy for years and I have to say that I was very surprised with this book. Kenny has a great knack for rephrasing the arguments of the Schoolmen in modern philosophical vocabulary without loss of substance. You'll be shocked by how relevant medieval philosophy really is; I'm a little angry undergrad students aren't made more aware of this material. This book accomplishes what every history aspires to: you close the book feel well-informed and freshly energized about the craft of philosophy.

The only minor downsides to the book are stylistic. A few strangely-worded cultural references make you feel like you're listening to 'Old Man Kenny' on occasion. More seriously, there are some instances where it's a little hard to follow the narrative voice, leaving you unsure at first where critical exposition ends and judgment begins. Thankfully, though, these defects are minimal in number and effect. Anyone with a moderate interest in philosophy will find this a worthwhile purchase.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like everything about this book. The time that it took to arrive and it has really helped me a lot in class.
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Medieval Philosophy (A New History of Western Philosophy, Vol. 2)
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