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Western Intellectual Tradition: From Leonardo to Hegel

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0061330018
ISBN-10: 0061330019
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 534 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (August 1, 1962)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061330019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061330018
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By sbayer on February 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Despite its forbidding title, The Western Intellectual Tradition is a readable overview of Western thought from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Bronowski and Mazlish's book is an entertaining way to refresh your memory about that Western Civilization course you were forced to take in freshman year.
The authors make the ideas come alive by providing a thumbnail biography of each thinker, placing him (and I do mean 'him') squarely in the political and social context of his times. This can cast an entirely different light on a writer's work. For example, Rousseau, who created a philosophy based on a belief in the natural goodness of man, not only sired five children out of wedlock, but sent each of them off to a foundling hospital!
Bringing all these thinkers together in one volume highlights timelines that may have gone unnoticed. I had never thought about the fact that Shakespeare and Galileo were contemporaries. And how did England change within 50 years from a nation of baudy Elizabethans to one of strict Puritans?
One warning: The text is laden with footnotes. A few provide interesting background on the disputes over the ideas described, but most simply give references and can be skipped by the general reader.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "kmrsteel" on October 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
I would highly recommend this book to people with an interest in the development of modern thought. The authors combine the impacts of science on the humanities and vice versa in a compelling book that leaves you waiting for the next page.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By When I'm 64 on May 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am a novice to philosophy and I cannot judge this work in relation to others in the great mystical relationship of mankind with the ..whatever... However I did enjoy reading this book. I liked it because it made sense to me. I could follow the logic of how European society progressed from having the church dominate a person's view of the universe, to one in which an individual's own thoughts are just as important and as powerful as any others. It was like reading about someone growing up and realizing they don't need a parent around to tell them what is right and what is wrong. I read this book as a story about the beginning of an individual's freedom to investigate and discuss the world from any perspective without the fear of being judged as right or wrong.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By dghuggs on April 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had this book as a required text in my freshman year of college, too many years ago. Since then I have taken it out and re-read it every three to five years as a 'refresher' on our important ideas and the people who brought them about. I finally had to buy a new copy of it a couple of years ago, my old one totally tattered and falling apart. This book puts into context many, many movements and the political and economic forces that caused them. A really important book for those who wish a deeper and broader understanding of our cultural history.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Phred on October 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before I speak to the book directly I must make comment on the copy itself. I read the paperback edition. The font size is approximately what you would expect for a book this size I found the printing quality to be very uneven in the footnotes to be blotchy. If nothing else my mistake was in not buying this as an electronic book. At this time there is no Kindle edition you may have be able to find e copy through another source.

Bronowski and Mazlish conceived of the Western Intellectual Tradition as a joint effort not only in terms of dual authorship but in terms of bringing together several different fields areas of academic expertise-ranging from history to mathematics to philosophy. It is probably not an accident that the project was originally developed at MIT through a department that deliberately seeks to fuse the humanities with the sciences. The book very much reads like it was intended to be a series of lectures presented in a course. There is a very evident professorial style but the result is not so formal and academic is to make this unreadable for a more general audience.

Going directly to what I like most about this book was the deliberate effort to show how arts and sciences fed off each other and in turn the sciences fed philosophy which in turn produced the subspecialty of political philosophy or as we know it now political science. The approach the authors use for crossing 500 years of Western thought is to tie each development to a number of individuals. Some get their own chapters others are more briefly mentioned as part of a sequence of writers who helped lead from one major thinker to the next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keith Rowland on March 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I did buy a used hardbound version. I enjoy reading Bronowsky very much. As expected from Dr. Bronowsky, this leans toward the development of scientific thought as the center of our intellectual tradition, the philosophical and religious are mentioned only in their support of scientific tradition, but the book does a good job of placing the developments in our scientific tradition into the context of the religion and politics of the time in question. I do now have a much better appreciation of what we owe the puritans for our rational and scientific methodologies. But where did the "modern" descendants of these puritans go astray. Today their fundamentalist spawn are anti intellectual and factious, they exhibit de-evolution, in a intellectual sense.

The review of the new paperback.
The printing is horrible in the new paperback version. The "eyes" of the e's and a's are obscured is some parts. Looks like the ink bled a bit after printing. I read another review that said the same thing, but ignored it. The publisher is Harper Perennial. I will avoid that label in the future unless I can see the book in advance. My friend has this same book under the Harper Torchlight label (1960) and the printing is fine.

So, the 1960 Harper Torchlight and the hardbound are both superior to the new paperback.
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