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The Philosophy Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained) Hardcover – January 17, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"[The Big Ideas Simply Explained books] are beautifully illustrated with shadow-like cartoons that break down even the most difficult concepts so they are easier to grasp. These step-by-step diagrams are an incredibly clever learning device to include, especially for visual learners." –

"This graphically lively presentation, which also features color reproductions, colorfully framed pull quotes, photos, and a variety of fonts, offers students an overview of the ideas and concepts generated by people who have spent their lives "wondering about the world." – School Library Journal

"In The Philosophy Book, the ideas and thoughts of more than one hundred of the most influential philosophers from the ancient world through today are presented in a succinct, yet highly readable, format. From all corners of the world and from different traditions and approaches to philosophy and the art of reasoning, the contributors to this excellent book highlight the impact of each philosopher on his society and how it affected the development of subsequent ideas. Students of philosophy or those interested in human thought will thoroughly enjoy this book. This volume is an excellent addition to a general philosophy collection." – Voice of Youth Advocate/VOYA Magazine


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Product Details

  • Series: Big Ideas Simply Explained
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: DK (January 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756668611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756668617
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Will Buckingham is a novelist, philosopher and children's writer. He was brought up in Norfolk, England, and went on to study Fine Arts, Anthropology and Philosophy, taking a PhD in continental philosophy.

His work cuts between story-like philosophy and philosophically-inclined storytelling. He has particular interests in how the philosophies that we weave may shape and reshape the way we go about our lives. His philosophical interests are broad -- from recent Continental philosophy, to the philosophical traditions of Buddhism and of China. In terms of fiction, he is interested in stories that might suggest new possibilities for how we might see the world, or think about the world, or relate to each other.

Will has taught both creative writing and philosophy in a wide range of contexts. He is currently Reader in Writing and Creativity at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

133 of 135 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
`The Philosophy Book' does one thing well... it explains the history of's thinking. It is a clearly explained textbook on ideas. It has a well written introduction that gives details how man has tried to clarify life and the world around him. It covers morality, politics, religion, and science. This is done by arranging the philosophers in chronological order from 700 BCE and Thales of Miletus to the present and Slavoj Zizek.

The Dharma wheel is explained and it does one of the better jobs in explaining Nietzsche. There is a directory with the names of the thinkers and comparable men in the same school of thought. A really useful glossary is included, as well as an index.

Sometimes philosophy is esoteric, but this book succeeds in explaining it with time lines, diagrams, and pictures of the philosophers and of course their philosophy, thoughts and ideas. This is really the history of philosophy; trying to deduce the why and wherefore of the world, of life and existence. This would serve well those who wish to learn about philosophy and its history. It would make a good supplement to any course or work where someone is trying to learn about this subject.
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Manuel Armenteros on May 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book we have a compilation of almost all "famous" and relevant philosophers in history, and of the contemporary world. This book does exactly what the title says: it explains big ideas in a simple manner. There will always be objections that ideas have been simplified as would be the case with Heidegger, Hegel and even Bertrand Russell (how would you, after all, know what to say about a person who has published over 30,000 articles?) , however I am of the opinion that it is always better to start from the bottom up in order to understand and grasp complex ideas. In any case, much of the subjects discussed in this book would eventually have to be communicated in a jargon free way if philosophy is ever going to expand to a wider public and not left alone in the "ivory tower" it often is accused of. Philosophy is one of the things we ALL do, regardless of religion, race or background ,after all, any time we enter in a discussion we are using our thoughts to make our point.

This book does the amazing job in that it is able to go through the very first philosophical statement made by Thales of Miletus "Everything is Made of Water" to Voltaire's shocking conclusion that "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd" entering into the nearly non-sensical yet still interesting comment made by Roland Barthes that for a lover "Language is a skin", this book touches on all possible points of view on life, morality, certainty, phenomenology and all other subjects that philosophy is concerned with.

Sure, I would complain that sections like that of Noam Chomsky do no justice to his enormous amount of work and thought, or that the conclusion of Michel Foucault's statement that "Man is an invention of a recent date" miss his much larger concerns of power relations.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased the hardcopy of this book a year ago and enjoy using it as a resource for the class I teach. However, I wish I had read the one review about this Kindle edition. They were correct, you cannot enlarge or highlight the text. If you have a 7 inch tablet or smart phone, you can forget trying to read the text. This ebook will not even open on the Kindle desktop app so that I can put it on a larger screen. I gave it two stars mainly because I do like the book itself, but the inability to read this as true ebook is a huge frustration.

I too would like to get a refund for this purchase. Is that possible?
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Michael L. Sweet on October 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book. I love the way the book is layed out with graphics and pictures. I was a philosophy major in college some 36 years ago but I am constantly reading these type of books. The Philosophy Book does a great job of introducing philosphers from all over the world and many that I have never heard about. I agree with another reviewer, that Nietzshe's section is really well done. I wish I had this book in college. It is hard to please everybody on a scope this large but for the most part, I feel that all areas of philosophy were touched upon. I like the way the writers show which branch and approach of philosphy each belong too. I also like the way the writers explained the philosophy by putting "bubbles" in a diagram. The only critique (and it is little) is that I wish more of the writing/books of each philospher were included.
Update: I bought this book over the holidays. My love for this book hasn't waned. It is a great price and gets me interested in other philosphers I haven't read. Highly recommended.
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63 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Ed Recife on May 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This review is not so much about the content of the book (which is also very superficial), but my comment is about this terrible kindle version of it. The book works just like a PDF on kindle, you cannot enjoy any of the advantages of reading a kindle book:

- there's no way to highlight text
- no way to change and adjust font size
- no way to bookmark pages
- no way to copy text
- no way to use a word dictionary
- no way to flip kindle/read in its horizontal position
- no table of contents on the top menu to go to

Basically theres nothing in it that makes you want to purchase a kindle version instead of a print copy of it; but the opposite. If that was not all, you will probably need magnifying glasses, because each page is divided in 3 columns of a VERY small font size and the text is shown as an image instead of an actual text, so if you try to zoom the text on the page it will give you a pixelated, distorted sample of the text, just like when you zoom an image on kindle.

I dont understant why this is being sold as a Kindle Version, it should be Sold as a PDF version for kindle, or better, a PDF not adjusted to be read on kindle.

I don't think I will finish reading this book and I will ask for a refund (of its salty price) and I suggest that if you really want to read it, purchase a print copy of it.
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