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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
One Hundred Philosophers: The Life And Work Of The World's Greatest Thinkers

By Peter J. King

Quarto/Barron's Educational Series

[...]

2004

ISBN # 0-7641-2791-8

Large Paperback

$19.95 US

$28.95 Canada

This strong basic reference type text opens with a brief introduction that explains how the author sees the realm of Philosophy, the main divisions in Philosophy, and what he is attempting to cover in this book, which spans ancient times to the 20th century. Of course, there are limitations as to what could be covered and the author makes his case as to why certain persons made the cut and others did not.

What follows are the various sections detailing periods in time starting with the Ancient World 700 B. C. E. -400 B.C.E. A timeline complete with illustrations and pictures as well as dates is given for the relevant points in history within and without the realm of Philosophy. Then, in page summary format, each Philosopher is listed, with a date of life, main interests, influences, influenced, and an explanation of what is known about the Philosopher, the thinking of the Philosopher and the role of the Philosopher at that time.

This same formula continues through out the nearly 200-page book. The 100th Philosopher, Peter Singer, is covered at the end of the twentieth century section followed by a comprehensive and detailed two-page section suggesting other reading. This section leads into a glossary of terms used in the book, which is followed by an index.

This book obviously can't cover everyone to great depth and doesn't try to do so. Instead, it serves more as an instruction to a wide range of thought and would be especially helpful not only to the laymen but for students considering study in the world of Philosophy. Not only does it give some understanding of each Philosopher covered, it provides avenues of exploration and learning for those interested and deserves a place in the home library.

This review previously appeared online at the Blue Iris Journal Blog.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2005
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Well, I can't pretend that I understood it. I didn't understand "Sophie's World" either. I prefer the format of this lay textbook over the device of the bizarre story of Sophie's World as a structure for didacticism though I admit the bizarre stuff was there to illustrate the philosophical points. I read "One Hundred Philosophers" quickly to see what was available in it but would need to study it with additional texts to go in- depth and attempt to understand the actual philosophy.

I bought the book because it links together disjointed pieces of information. I think it's a good starting point and I intend to use it as a reference book rather than having to go on the net to find the same information.

It's amazing that I'm encountering beliefs out there that I've been reading about in the book and can easily refer to for discussions. There's some surprising individuals in the book to read about, real eye-openers. There are also patterns of biography depending on the era cited e.g. starting out as a theological scholar and getting side-tracked into philosophy.

Some of the woman philosphers' lives make sad reading, early deaths and in one case matyrdom. In contrast, some of the men lived to great ages.

As well though, I saw a pattern of philosophers being repeatedly exiled, tortured, imprisoned and executed for their beliefs though this isn't happening with the latest Continental and Anglo-American ones featured! I found this book so worthwhile I felt inspired to buy one for my 14 year old neice as a great introduction to the valuable and deep subject of philosophy.

Funnily enough, I bought it as one of a selection of books available in the tea-room at work among the usual recipe and typical prosaic lifestyle selection. It was a great buy for $NZ12 (New Zealand).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this book after taking an introductory philosophy course in college. I had a deep interest in the subject, but not a very strong background. If you are like me, then this book will be a great starting point for you. Do not expect to find any great analysis of any philosophical theories, or even any opinions on the theories of the various philosophers. In fact, some of the philosophers are covered very briefly, and we are given only the most basic information about them (where they were born, where they studied, what kind of family they came from, where they died, etc.). However, having said that, this book WILL provide you with the basic knowledge of the most influential philosophers so that you may embark on your greater journey into the world of philosophy. It clearly deliniates the beginning of philosophical thought and it's transition to modern philosophy and as most reviewers have stated, it is very well structured and organized. Every major philosopher that you have ever read about/heard of is in this book. I strongly encourage any and all readers interested in a philosophy background to purchase this book!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book was far too brief for me. I was disapponited because I could not capture the essence of the ideas expounded by each philosopher. The pages are divided into three columns. One column on each page is for quotes or antedotes. The top fifth of the page is used for birth and death, main interest, influences etc, there are pictures of the philospher, and occasionally other art works. This doesn't leave much room for discussion. I'm still looking for something readable and useful. Strangely, I did not find Voltaire in this book. Overall, it did not do it for me
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
The subtitle of this book bills itself as "the world's greatest thinkers."

Really? No mention of Schopenhauer? Habermas? Foucault (there's even a picture of him on the front cover!)? Derrida? Gadamer? Schelling? Whitehead? Instead of these, we get several completely unknown people included which seems inappropriate.

The influences on Nietzsche are listed as Machiavelli and Schopenhauer. Really? Not Wagner? Emerson? Goethe? Heine?

In point of fact, Nietzsche's entire "Gay Science" was inspired by Emerson. Wagner was the only genius that Nietzsche knew personally, and whose name features in the titles of two of Nietzsche's books, 'Nietzsche contra Wagner' and 'The Case of Wagner'. Goethe was Nietzsche's model for the ubermensch/overman. Nietzsche took the doctrine of the eternal recurrence from Heine. But I guess that they don't teach you this stuff at Oxford.

And I challenge this author to tell me what Machiavelli's influence on Nietzsche consisted of -- it's certainly never explained in the book. Certainly it is less significant that that of the authors that I mentioned.

This book is inaccurate, incomplete, and in many cases, just plain wrong.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
But where's Merleau-Ponty? Where's Saussure? Levi-Strauss? What the heck?

Someone named Lady Welby-Gregory got included though (Who..?). Every other page (paper stock) in my copy is stiff, making flipping through it an exercise in fine motor skills.
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on May 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the kind of book you - as a philosophy lover, I assume - can keep on your centerpiece or desk somewhere easily accessible for reference. It's very visually pleasing and organized, so you can spend hours reading about this and that philosopher. Its limitation lies in the explanation of the philosophers' views, which summarizes a lot and as a result you cannot hope to learn much from it content-wise. If your goal is to learn some philosopher's views well, this is not the book for you, but if you want a quick reference for philosophers' time periods, historical heritage, theoretical orientation, etc., it is great.

Conclusion: a good pick if its purpose is understood as a reference, as a poster noted below. The point is to talk about the people rather than the ideas. It will not engage you in deep ideas, but will tell you a bit about a great many thinkers.
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Format: Paperback
now I Play a Deep thinker on TV, however in real life I gotta work at some deep thoughts beyond like Jerry Springer at the end of a show, this book is the perfect starters kit for that exactly and more. it offers a inside perspective into the inner thoughts and takes on various moods and a strong reference digest to gather strong points from and thensome. i needed a book like this to make think on a different level and another perspective and this book did the trick.
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on January 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
I got this as a Christmas present to my dad, but found myself wishing I had got it for me. I'm one of those kinds of people that wish I knew more about this and that philosopher, but aren't sure where to begin. I've heard lots of the names in this book but never really knew what they believed, but the book goes over it quite well.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a very nice quick reference, and should be used perhaps like a dictionary. Influences and influenced thinkers are clearly presented, along with each philosopher's main interests and quotes or sometimes "in a nutshell" summaries of the philosophy.

So far I only have one minor criticism: Peter King doesn't like to capitalize the word "god" (as if it changes its metaphysical status). When it is clearly indicating a singular pronoun in the text, it remains uncapitalized. Maybe he was trying to convey that there's a plurality of gods, but clearly some of these philosophers thought of a singular God, and it should be capitalized as all pronouns are. I'm not sure of Mr. King's motivation here, I can only guess he was trying to be inoffensive to non-Christian religions?

Anyhow, don't let that put you off. This is definitely a book worth ordering or picking up - you will find it imminently useful!
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