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The Columbia History of Western Philosophy

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231101295
ISBN-10: 0231101295
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This work ranges over the whole history of Western philosophy, from the pre-Socratics to 20th-century philosophy, both analytic and continental. In doing so, moreover, it does not restrict itself merely to major philosophers but includes more than the usual few sentences ordinarily accorded minor figures. The accounts, on the whole, are accurate and clearly written, though some of those about 20th-century continental philosophy are trapped within the muddled discourse of their subject matter. Although only the sections on medieval Christian philosophy and 20th-century analytic philosophy have single authors (S.F. Brown and A. Stroll, respectively), differences in writing do not distract. The section on skepticism, as might be expected from Popkin's authority on the subject, is especially good, as are Stroll's succinct explanations of technical matters. Highly recommended for academic and large libraries.?Robert Hoffman, York College of CUNY, Stony Brook, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Undoubtedly slated to be a standard on any literate shelf for generations to come... It is eminently readable and enjoyable.

(15 Minutes Magazine)

The volume is a fitting testimonial to Popkin's life's work.

(Douglas Moggach The European Legacy 1900-01-00)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231101295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231101295
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.1 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,840,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By kfrome@efs.pvt.k12.ny.us on December 13, 1998
Format: Hardcover
In the line of one-volume histories of philosophy, Popkin's History will immediately take its place as a classic.He includes not only the latest scholarship on the familiar figures and debates, but we also broadens the scope of what ought to be considered and studied in the canon of Western philosophy. This is a summa for the end of the 20th-century. The chapter on analytic philosophy is the most lucid treatment of that difficult topic I have ever read.Popkin has given us a gift in this volume. If you need a basic introduction to the field or if you need a large angle sub specie aeternatis view of philsophy, this is the book to buy.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By S. V. Pollack (shepsl) on July 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book could have been just another collection of essays on Western philosophy. Instead, Popkin's masterful organization, editing and commentary produced a lucid, well-integrated work. Ideas are presented and developed in the context of their times and mirrored against similar and contrasting ones. The result, in my view, is as seamless as a treatment of this vast subject could possibly be. Any future attempt to tackle this area will have to contend with this superb benchmark.
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31 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Lex van Heel on October 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I was browsing on Amazon, I was surprised to see that this book (In Europe it is called 'The Pimlico History of Western Philosophy, edited by Richard H. Popkin and effectively written by -indeed- a 'small army of connaisseurs') had an average rating of 4.5 stars. To me the largest part of the book is utterly unreadable. Many sections seem like an endless row of quotations connected by lines of interpretative thought from each expert. No doubt that these people are experts in their field, but their capacity to transmit the basic ideas as intended by the philosophers discussed (or at least the interpretations of those ideas), is very poor. Nor do the discussions stimulate philosophical thought in the reader himself. Probably this might not be the purpose of this book, but in my personal opinion every history of philosophy should encourage the interested layman to contemplate on the big questions concerning metaphysics, ontology, epistemology and ethics. Or as Storig formulates it very well in his excellent 'Kleine Weltgeschichte der Philospie':
What can we do? What should we do? What may we believe?
If you are looking for the answers to these questions, do not read this book. The remark Popkin makes in the introduction of this book concerning 'History of Western Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell is really cheap: "Russell wrote his book hastily out of financial desperation while jobless in N.Y.C. at the beginning of WW II. Since Russell was a scholar of very few topics he covered, and uninterested or hostile to others, his opus is most engaging as Russelliana but hardly as history of philosophy". And further: "This work (Popkin's) is not intended to compete with this classic (Russell's)". Well, I read both and the conclusion is easily made.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. King on April 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Columbia History is destined to become a classic. Richard Popkin assembled a small army of experts to write this history. The result is a text that is useful not only to the scholar, but to the general reader and student as well. Although a book like this suffers the danger that it will be simply a collection of unrelated essays on each philosopher or school of philosophy, Popkin provides notes that connect the separate articles. The thorough bibliography and index make this book particularly useful. Every student of philosophy should own a copy. Highly recommended.
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