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Story of Philosophy Paperback – July 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: DK ADULT; 1st edition (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078947994X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789479945
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Bryan Magee has been one of the most successful English-language popularizers of philosophy in the 20th century; in this coffee-volume, he presents a brief but information-packed history of Western philosophy from pre-Socratic Greek philosophers like Thales and Heraclitus to postmodern French thinkers like Derrida and Foucault. Illustrations fill every page, offering not only portraits of the major philosophical thinkers but illustrations of some of their key concepts, while ample marginalia provide supplementary information for historical context. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-This gloriously illustrated and accessible book enables readers to embark on an adventure in philosophy. The chapters cover "The Greeks and Their World," "Christianity and Philosophy," "The Beginnings of Modern Science," "The Great Rationalists," "The Great Empiricists," "Revolutionary French Thinkers," "A Golden Century of German Philosophy," "Democracy and Philosophy," and "20th-Century Philosophy." The text is profusely illustrated with numerous full-color reproductions of artwork and photographs of historical sites; sidebars introduce additional people and ideas and "Key Works" of the philosophers are listed in light-blue boxes. Writing with a clear and lively style, Magee provides an excellent introduction to the topic. Young adults will find that the often closed doors of philosophy are now open and inviting.
Marsha S. Holden, Highland Community College, Freeport, IL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

If one could read just one book on western philosophy, this one would be a good choice.
Robert W. McGee
His writing style is very clear and he makes extremely interesting points about the different philosophers and about philosophy in general.
Music Critic
An excellent overview of western philosophical thought, with a brief section on eastern philosophy.
Sturmey Archer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Bradley A. Swope on May 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
REVIEW: It's not often that I refer to a book as "beautiful", but that's the first word that comes to my mind for this book. I wish more books that tackle serious subjects were written in this style. It opens up learning of the subject to a broader audience. Magee's book seems almost perfect as an introduction, overview, and rough history of philosophy. It should make an excellent introduction and light reference book to the non-expert reader.
I have often read books (e.g. books by Peter Drucker) that refer to various philosophers and their writings and I typically felt I had an inadequate understanding since I had very little knowledge of philosophy. So I borrowed this book from a library and enjoyed it so much that I decided to purchase it. I especially like the way the book is organized into small, easy to read chapters with many graphics, and short sidebars. Magee also does an excellent job of tying the philosophers into the context of the art, religion, and history of each period (in a basic, not too detailed way).
STRENGTHS: Easy to read; very well organized; lots of supporting graphics (e.g. photos of period art) and sidebars; excellent index and list of suggested further readings for each philosopher; just the right level of detail for an introduction.
WEAKNESSES: Academics or those more knowledgable of philosophy may find the book too simple, or even childish (easy to read and lots of pictures).
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK: Those who do not have an existing knowledge base of philosophy and who are looking for an easy to read general introduction, overview, or history of philosophy.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My father found this book in the trash where he works, and he took it out. I know people buy and sell things like this, and my father gave it to me when someone else had discarded it, but to me it is priceless! There have been nights when I've fallen asleep and this book was next to me, and I believe I dreamed of all the glorious thoughts which have come before me. To consider that someone must have been the first to think of the fact that nothing is constant in this world, that we can't know this or that for certain... I myself have come up with some ideas, on my very own, which I have found to have been original in past centuries. This book will give anyone who cares a deeper understanding of where their own ideas originated. All these ideas which we so take for granted were NEW at one time or other. This book will only make the curious mind long for more. The author does a wonderful job of making something very confusing easy to comprehend, and the supplemental information shows how thought and the rest of the world are inseparable. This book is a treasure. And to think someone actually threw it away...
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Not to be confused with the Will Durant book of a similar title, this glossy book packed with color illustrations and photographs is an introductory book to the major movements of western philosophy. Beginning with the Greeks, Magee takes the reader through the ideas of early Christianity and early modern science, following the natural progression into the rationalists and the empiricists. French, German, and early American philosophy follow in separate sections detailing the basic ideas of philosophers such as Descartes, Hume, Rousseau, and Hegel. Magee ends with twentieth century philosophy, offering predictions for future trends in philosophical thought.
This book makes a fine touchstone to remind one of certain schools of philosophy or to learn about the most famous thinkers of western civilization. This book is far too slender to include some of the more intricate ideas or lesser known individuals who have nonetheless made contributions to the field. Regardless, this attractive book makes a good reference tool when navigating major trends of thought.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Connie Munro on February 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I had seen a copy of this book prior to purchase in an older edition. I liked it very much. It contains a lot of useful information laid out in a very readable fashion; however, I purchased a paperback copy. That was a big mistake! The type in the paperback edition is tiny. Reading this edition is difficult, and a lot of the impact of the creative layout is lost with the small pages. In retrospect, I would seek a larger format than the edition that measures 8.9 x 7.3 x 0.7 inches.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Philosophy is a subject that influences our lives on a daily basis, yet how many of us have time to sit around in a coffee shop and think about enlightenment or to wonder and ask "why?" This is a book about fundamentals we normally take for granted.

Has anyone ever asked you: "Yes, but what do we actually mean by freedom?" If we are all free to do exactly what we want, will that not lead to the loss of freedom for some.

These types of questions intrigue me to no end. Denis Diderot said that freedom has no meaning. Jean-Jacques Rousseau said that man was born free and everywhere he is in chains. He also believed man was naturally good. Immanuel Kant seems to disagree and says that out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing can ever be made.

When people start to talk like this, they are beginning to think philosophically. They embark on a journey of thought that opens the mind and allows us to see the mind of another. You will find a soul mate philosopher within the pages for sure. How you think could in fact be linked to the thoughts of a philosopher whose views are presented here.

"Philosophy begins in wonder." -Plato

The Story of Philosophy will entice your mind into reading the entire work! Not, however in one sitting, but as the need arises. First, I wanted to see if I would actually use this book in discussions...and sure enough, within a few days I had already discussed humanism at a discussion board. It was helpful to know how humanism has evolved from the philosophy of Epicurus. As in: "Is he (God) willing to prevent evil, but not able?" or "Is he both able and willing?" .....then "Whence then is evil?" They note that the to us now, Epicureanism is very similar to the liberal humanism of the 20th century.
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