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355 of 378 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect intro to philosophy
I read through quite a few of the reviews here before writing my own, and was kind of surprised at what I read. I think I read Sophie's World through far different eyes than most of the people who posted reviews. I'm a 16 year old high school sophmore who's familiarity to philosophy is limited to what material I can borrow from my school library, not what I was...
Published on November 29, 1998 by Corey

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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A textbook and a story... Worth the read?
Sophie's World attempts to hold the reader's interest though the plot, while the actual philosophy lessons are embedded within it. As a textbook, it was separated into sections that dealt with stages in philosophic development, whether it is a time period or a famous philosopher. Each section stated the situation during the introduction of the specific philosophy and...
Published on January 20, 2000 by Lou Chang


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355 of 378 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect intro to philosophy, November 29, 1998
By 
Corey (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
I read through quite a few of the reviews here before writing my own, and was kind of surprised at what I read. I think I read Sophie's World through far different eyes than most of the people who posted reviews. I'm a 16 year old high school sophmore who's familiarity to philosophy is limited to what material I can borrow from my school library, not what I was taught at an expensive college. Sophie's World is delightful for it's purpose: to introduce people to the basics of philosophy and apply it to a fictional situation. Gaarder suceeds wonderfully in doing that. What the world needs is a clear concise history of philosophy that helps HUMAN BEINGS understand philosophy without having to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars. Sophie's World is that book, not just another overanalysis of Kierkegaard or Sartre which might as well be written in Latin, because God knows most people wouldn't understand a word of it. Sophie's World is a book for PEOPLE who want to understand the world of philosophy, not a bunch of stuck-up intellectuals who think that only a select few should be able to enjoy such information. Yes, for people who know everything, this book would probably be a bore, but for your 99% percent of the country; this book would be a gem, and it is.
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238 of 253 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Idea for the Right Person, March 13, 2001
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Sophie's World has an interesting concept, but it is certainly not for everyone. I have some criticism of the book, but also some praise. First the criticism. This is really a philosophy text pretending to be a novel. (Which, I believe is ultimately a good thing). The characters are not that believable and are really just devices Gaarder uses to get his point across. The dialog is not believable either. Another potential problem for certain readers is that the philosophy lessons contained in this book are, in the novel, aimed at a 15 year old girl. If you have studied philosophy at some point in your life, this will probably be far too simplistic for you.
I still would recommend this book and here's why. Sophie's World will be an excellent read for anyone with a curiosity about philosophy, but who finds the whole thing a bit intimidating. I think it's a wonderful introduction to philosophy because it is aimed at that 15 year old character. Even if you have studied philosophy, this book will be thought provoking, if only because it makes you think about what you once studied. I think this would be a wonderful book for parents of teenage children to read with their children. It would certainly make for some excellent discussions. The true strength of this book is the material it covers. Philosophy is a fascinating subject and Sophie's World is the perfect choice for anyone who would like to gently ease themselves into that subject.
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One the most useful books I�ve read, December 28, 2000
"Sophie's World" is amazing, it's a philosophy course made a novel. Most people interested in the "big questions" have probably read through their lives several authors, maybe Plato's "Dialogs", Descartes, Kant; or modern ones like Nietzsche, Freud or Marx. However, by doing this (reading only some authors) its difficult to understand the evolution of the philosophical thought through the history of mankind, you are unable to compare all the different approaches to questions that have been asked repeatedly since thousands of years. This book gives you the vision, and the head start for a more profound reading of occidental philosophy. For example years ago I started Nietzsche's "Beyond good and evil", and not being able to understand why he criticized Kant I dropped the book. After reading in Gaarder's book Kant's basic ideas I finally understood the divergence of thoughts.
But "Sophie's World" it's not just a mere philosophy course, it's a novel, a very enjoyable text that mixes the philosophic knowledge with the plot, in a totally entertaining way. The book is recommendable for everybody, but specially for people interested in the subject, of course. It's definitely not just for young people, but a philosophy professor would probably find it a little dull.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DON'T BELIEVE THE NAYSAYERS!, September 24, 2000
By A Customer
Reviewers who complain the plot of this book is weak, that the ending is a "cop-out", that the story line gets "too weird" have, in my opinion, totally misunderstood the point of the novel, and have not paid proper attention to the philosophy lectures embedded in the novel. READ THE SUBTITLE - it's a novel about the history of philosophy! The clues to the plot are in the philosophy, and the plot, as well as the ending, make perfect sense provided you have understood the philosophy.
I would like to thank the reviewer who warned me not to read the Kirkus review. WARNING AGAIN - DO NOT READ THE KIRKUS REVIEW UNTIL YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE BOOK! AMAZON, YOU SHOULD REMOVE THIS REVIEW - IT GIVES THE WHOLE GAME AWAY!
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82 of 93 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Review of the History of Philosophy, September 2, 2002
Gaardner, a Norwegian high school teacher, has created a wonderful and readable history of philosophy. The book is weakly constructed as a philosophy course taught to 14-year old Sophie by a mysterious stranger. But it is this "novel" side of the book that is the thinnest, for Sophie and the other characters in the novel are mere cardboard cutouts tacked on to the margins of the chapters to provide context for the the real book: the philosophy course.
The course chronologically covers thirty major periods, schools of thought, and philosophers from the pre-Socratics through Aristotle, Aquinas, and Hegel to the Big Bang. Each is presented in an accessible chapter of a dozen pages, with the philosophy teacher simplifying and clarifying points for Sophie. With the philosophers presented in chronological order, readers can track the trends of thought as each builds on those who came before. "Sophie's World" is not a great novel, but it is an excellent review of philosophy, and a quick 500 pages.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey through the mind's eye, June 2, 1998
By A Customer
Sophie's World is an extraordinary book. The idea that Jostein Gaarder should open our eyes in the way that he has is almost unprecedented in classical literature. I found myself sitting, enthralled by the clever weaving of philosophy lecture with mind blowing undertones. The idea that we only exist, not only within our own minds, but possiblty within the mind of someone else, is one i have often considered. To see this idea written about in such a novel manner was a breath of fresh air. This book, if taken on board will change your views on life. You will no longer wnat to be one of Albert's adults, buried deep inside the rabbits warm comfortable fur. You'll want to climb the strands of fur, and think like a child, become a philosopher. Use the power of your mind to open avenues you'd never considered, and just become a more rounded person. This book should be read with an open mind. Anyone who has ever pondered the great questions to any depth will find themselves identifying with some of the philosophers, and picking out their own ideas mirrored in those of the so called great philosophers. From this respect, it is very uplifting.
I urge people to read this book!!!
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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A textbook and a story... Worth the read?, January 20, 2000
By 
Lou Chang (Hamilton, Ontario) - See all my reviews
Sophie's World attempts to hold the reader's interest though the plot, while the actual philosophy lessons are embedded within it. As a textbook, it was separated into sections that dealt with stages in philosophic development, whether it is a time period or a famous philosopher. Each section stated the situation during the introduction of the specific philosophy and explained the development of each philosophy step by step, through the thought process of Sophie and the guidance of Alberto. Each section also had a summary at the end, and had examples and metaphors on how the philosophy can be applied or thought of. These lessons were fascinating during the beginning of the book, but then it began to become tedious. The refreshing style of the book started to wear off. As a novel, it had a weak plot. Although the mysteries were interesting during the beginning, it quickly began to get repetitive. The mysteries are dragged out too much and they are solved long after the reader loses interest. The pace begins to pick up in the middle however. Unfortunately, this pace is not carried out through the rest of the book, as the plot gets more and more absurd, probably as an attempt building up to a climax. Although I found this a hard book to get through, I felt it was worth it.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, May 30, 2001
By 
Shirldapearl (DC Metropolitan Area) - See all my reviews
I picked up "Sophie's World" on a whim, where it was displayed on a table near the cash register. I don't know have much knowledge about philosophy, and although I realize this book barely scratches the surface of some very deep thoughts, I still feel that Jostein Gaarder did a stupendous job in making philosophy feel accessible to me. It made me curious to know more, and if that's not the sign of a great book, then I guess I don't know what one is.
I skimmed through many of the reviews just now, even though I've already read the book, and I was able to see a general pattern: those that were inquisitive, open to new learning and a new way of considering our existence were wild about this book. Conversely, the ones that gave it low marks and unmercifully criticized the philosophical part smacked of former philosophy major flunkies with severe elitist, I'm-such-an-expert-in-the-field-sniff-sniff attitudes. What most of the low-scorers missed was that "Sophie's World" was never intended to be a comprehensive study in Western Philosophy, merely an introduction to waken sleeping minds. And to say things like Gaarder got Kant's ideas all wrong is, to say the very least, highly subjective (and open to philosophical discussion). And for crying out loud, these nasty critics should learn to relax a little and have a good time with a very "novel" novel. Gads, what snobbery.
Read the book and enjoy it for the ride it gives. It's much better than the average schlop that's flooding the market.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An introduction to philosophy for all ages., April 26, 2000
What if your life wasn't "real"? What if your world was fabricated in the mind of an unknown? Who are you? These are questions tackled by 14 year-old Sophie Amundsen in Jostein Gaarder's book Sophie's World. While the tale begins with the seemingly simple question of "Who are you?" the others are soon encountered as she is guided on a philosophical journey through history by the philosopher, Alberto Knox. Never before have I read a book, with such a layered plot. Sophie is studying the world of philosophy -from ancient Greece to the present- , but someone is studying Sophie, while we ourselves are studying that someone. Surprisingly, however, Sophie's World is not a dark, sinister tale, but a pleasant romp through the history of philosophy. While it is not enough to make you all-knowing in philosophy, it will certainly whet the beginners palate and perhaps be found as a refreshing review by the experts. Jostein Gaarder has written a unique book for the old and young alike, that can certainly be considered a whole world in and of itself.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight to philosophy, May 20, 2006
By 
Jackie S (Los Angeles, USA) - See all my reviews
Sophie's World is written by Norwegian writer and a philosophical teacher, Jostein Gaardner. This book is subtitled "A Novel about the History of Philosophy," and in it Gaarder talks about 2000 years worth of western philosophical thought. I believe this is one of the most enthralling and catching book there is, for those of you who're very interested in history of philosophy. I had a great time reading this book. It is fun, very interesting and the author does a great job of explaining the theories of famous philosophers. The author also does a very fascinating job of taking complicated ideas and presenting them in language comprehensible to young adults such as teenagers. Although the overall plot was very confusing, Sophie's World is great for those who are new to philosophy.

This book is written in the style of novel, and the lead character is a 14-year-old girl named Sophie Amundsen who gets introduced to a history of philosophy by a mysterious person. One day, after walking home from school, she is going through her mailbox and finds a letter by a stranger with only her name and her address on it. How weird is this? She opens it and on the letter inside read "Who are you?" and "Where does world come from?" Sophie has many good ideas and thoughts to these questions but really have no idea how to answer them. As Sophie tries to have a philosophical discussion with her mom, it merely leads to her mother believing she has gone insane.

Everyday, a letter comes to her mailbox that contains a few questions and later in the day, package of letter comes explaining/describing the ideas of a philosopher who dealt with the issues. At their very first lesson, Albert tells Sophie that philosophy is very reasonable to life and if we don't question our living, then we are not really living. After that being said, he proceeds to western philosophy. Alberto teaches Sophie the ancient myths, and natural philosophers who were concerned with change. He then moves onto Democritus and the theory of atoms. Sophie is amazed by the fact that Democritus managed to use the philosophers before him to come up with a new theory. Furthermore, Sophie is introduced to early century's psychologists, rationalists, philosophers with their different beliefs. (Such as Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, and eventually Freud and Darwin's philosophical theory.) Meanwhile, Sophie's mother finds one of the letters. Since it has no stamp, she thinks it's a love letter and begins to meddle and question her.

Sophie finds that everything she learns seems to make sense to her, and begins to appreciate the philosophy that's being followed. In fact, in a literal sense philosophy becomes a regular part of Sophie's life, since the course that she is now taking makes up a major part of her day. As the lessons continue, Sophie's mind becomes extremely sharp and she eventually incorporates all the things she has learned from her teacher named Albert, (she eventually figures out that the strange philosopher's name was Albert Knox) into coming up with interesting philosophical theories of her own, and questioning and challenging her own teacher Albert. In addition, as time progresses, Sophie's mom notices a big change in Sophie and becomes quite impressed with her ideas and thoughts,

Gaarder forces us to consider more deeply the implications of philosophy that Sophie learns. Gaarder seems to be showing us that philosophy is part of everyday life, and those philosophers of the past will always reasonable to the present. Reading Sophie's World makes us think about philosophy and makes us consider some of the most important questions that can be asked.

This is a great book. You don't need philosophical textbooks to learn all these stuff. This book saves lots of money compared to philosophical textbooks and everything is summarized effectively. They are much smaller than textbooks too. If you're alarmed by 544 pages, don't be. Each chapter is filled with appealing facts from the past, and they're very interesting. Well, I don't know how else I could depict, but this was an amazing book for me. It was lot better than reading textbooks. Take a risk, and try reading it yourself.
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Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy (FSG Classics)
Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy (FSG Classics) by Jostein Gaarder (Paperback - March 20, 2007)
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