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Philosophy: The World's Greatest Thinkers Paperback – Bargain Price, January 30, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up--This book takes a thematic and then chronological approach to its subject. The philosophers are first grouped by their school of thought, clearly outlined on the contents page. Within each division, Stokes includes several examples, showing the progression of that philosophy over time. For example, existentialism is traced from Kierkegaard through Heidegger and Sartre to de Beauvoir. Each entry is two pages long, and includes a black-and-white illustration or photo of the philosopher. No biographical information is included beyond a general comment about nationality or education. Instead, readers are given a summary of each individual's contribution to the "science" of philosophy. There are cross-references throughout, indicated by boldface type. The glossary seeks to clarify some of the more difficult terms and concepts. This is not a work for beginners; both the vocabulary and content make it appropriate for more mature readers. Overall, however, it is a valuable introduction to some of the world's great thinkers.--Elizabeth M. Reardon, McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"[A] fascinating first foray into the cerebral world of 'essential thinkers.'" --The Boox Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Arcturus Publishing Limited (January 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848378505
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,013,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Phil Stokes is married with two children and currently living in Thailand. He teaches English language and Critical Thinking skills at a Thai university, while pondering - ever so slowly - on the prospect of turning his scrivenings into further books. His latest work is an opensource critical thinking textbook written for lecturers and students of philosophy. It is available for free at http://essentialthinking.wordpress.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dan Warner on February 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Philip Stokes traces -- quickly, succinctly, and always in a page-and-a-half -- exactly why each philosopher included in "100 Essential Thinkers" has earned a place in the book's pages. While the text is perfect for a quick brush-up on famous names throughout history you know you should know but you can't ever remember exactly why (or exactly what they did or said), it is just that -- a primer, a relatively painless refresher, but far from a comprehensive account of each individual. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, mostly because of the tone and layout of the entries on each thinker -- Stokes has a gift for summing up the thrust of complicated philosophical preponderances in lightning-quick, lucid and polemic-free prose. He also begins each little article with an interesting blurb or quotation from the thinker, and provides a picture, painting, etching or sculpture. All this makes it easier to anchor the person, usually described only in terms of their abstract ideas, more firmly in your mind. (Democritus looks wasted, for example, and Whitehead lives up to his name...and wait until you see the push-broom moustache on Neitzsche...)
The book details little of its thinkers' lives, except where perhaps relevant to the evolution of ideas and theories important to philosophy, but does occasionally trace an idea or a solution through its earlier manifestations. All in all, it's a snack of a book...and for some of the 100 greatest thinkers (like St. Anselm, Schelling, Philo of Alexandria) that's probably as in-depth as you'll ever want to go.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Lindsey on May 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Stokes presents a brief introduction to his chosen panoply of 100 influential Western thinkers, from Ancient Greece to the present. A concise (about one page per philosopher) and informative read, well suited as an introduction to the ideas and schools of thought of these major figures. At times Stokes seems to slip his own assumptions and preference into the fabric of his assessments (for instance he seems to personally defend Sartre's existentialist conclusions). Of course, this is not in and of itself bad and Stokes does not make any claim to try for some sort of perfect objectivity. Whether or not Stokes' own views and affinities color his presentation should be no problem to the reader who plans on learning from more than one source (which is always a good idea). While reading this book it has been interesting to see how each philosopher begins his own progression of thought with certain assumptions. Subsequent thinkers who agree with certain aspects of another's philosophy, but disagree with the conclusions of that philosopher, merely need to alter certain foundational assumptions---sometimes it seems in order to support an already reached conclusion. What underlies the assumptions that cause philosophers to choose or reject certain ideas? Stokes' presentation makes this question stand out, for you merely have to turn the page and there is another great philosopher finding an earlier thinkers ideas "acceptable" or "unacceptable" as a statement of fact without much explanation as to why. It is in this way an introductory book such as this may well spur a likely candidate on to further study in philosophy. Overall: A good introduction as well as a good source for a quick brain refresh on famous philosophers' ideas and works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Devon Petley on June 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
I use this book in my an introductory survey to philosophy class at the high school level. My students and I have found it to be accessible but accurate and informative.

100 Essential Thinkers is precisely that; a broad list of thinkers who have affected the Western tradition rather than simply philosophers. Stokes' list is well organized and expansive; he covers everyone from the pre-Socratics (Thales, Parmenides, Heraclitus) up to the postmodernists (Foucault, Derrida), to the analytic philosophers (Ayer, Popper, Carnap), and everyone in between (Hume, Descartes, Kant). Scientists are given their due in this list, too (Newton, Copernicus, Einstein). He helpfully lists thinkers in an order so as to better understand each in a broader context, with groupings such as "The New Scientists," "The Linguistic Turn," "The Rationalists," or "The Empiricists." Many if not all of the thinkers are cross refferenced to one another, allowing the reader to use this as a helpful reference and refresher.

Stokes' writing is much in keeping with Wittgenstein's adage that "Anything that can be said can be said simply." Each entry provides a clear and useful explanation of a thinker's contribution to Western philosophy, science, and/or thought. The author manages to explain very complex ideas very eloquently and simply without betraying any important details or nuance. Stokes demonstrates in his writing an authoritative understanding of the specific material he is presenting and of the history of philosophy. He includes the most current and in many cases still living thinkers (i.e., Chomsky).

While Stokes' book won't be cited in academia anytime soon, it serves as the best introduction I have found available for such a variety of thinkers. I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a good introduction to philosophy.
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