- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (November 17, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 039332365X
- ISBN-13: 978-0393323658
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 70 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance Reprint Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.
If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you increase your sales. We invite you to learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon .
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Histories of philosophy tend either to be prodigious, learned works, like F.C. Copleston's A History of Philosophy, or idiosyncratic tracts of scholarly obfuscation, like Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy, and they often present their subject through narrow, ideological lenses. Gottlieb's elegant survey brings a breath of fresh air. Executive editor of The Economist, Gottlieb mines primary sources with a remarkably even hand. He demonstrates that, while cosmological questions dominated early philosophy, Plato and Aristotle investigated metaphysical, epistemological and ethical conundrums as well. He shows how the later Hellenistic schools, like the Epicureans and Stoics; medieval thinkers, such as Augustine and Aquinas; and Renaissance philosophers, including Machiavelli and Bacon, built their systems either on Plato or Aristotle. But Gottlieb's book is not just another plodding survey. His attention to cultural context provides insight into why various thinkers thought as they did about certain matters. Plato wrote his Republic, for example, because he detested the kind of democracy in fashion in Athens, and he wanted to return to the oligarchy of his childhood. Unfortunately, the book suffers from a distorted perspective, covering almost 1,000 years of history, from late antiquity to the Renaissance, in just under 100 pages, while giving more than that to early Greek philosophy, most of which consists of fragmentary sources. Thus, Hobbes and Machiavelli, who deserve their own chapters more than do Democritus or Empedocles, are allotted only a few brief paragraphs. Gottlieb also engages in some debatable readings: many find that Kant's theory of self-consciousness, for instance, leads not to relativism but to absolutism. Nonetheless, this eloquent book offers a lively chronicle of the evolution of Western philosophy.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A delight....written with both wit and scholarship, providing a wonderful overall picture of Western philosophy up to the Renaissance. -- Sir Roger Penrose
A wonderful book. -- Myles Burnyeat, New York Review of Books
Gottlieb is as enjoyable as he is intellectually stimulating. -- Robert Conquest, Los Angeles Times
His book...supplant[s] all others, even the immensely successful History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. -- A. C. Grayling
[Gottlieb] writes with fluency and lucidity, with a gift for making even difficult matters seem comprehensible. -- Richard Jenkins, New York Times
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-4 of 70 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This volume covers a diverse cast of characters from the fifth and sixth centuries BC (the Milesians, the Pythagoreans, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Zeno, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Democritus, the Sophists) through the Giants of Philosophy (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) and their near contemporaries in the 5th century BC to the early middle ages of the pre-Renaissance (Epicureans, Stoics, Sceptics). With the exception of Plato and Aristotle, who found teaching jobs and started Academies that lasted centuries, most of the early philosophers come across as cantankerous elderly vagrants of an argumentative disposition who congregated in public places. Almost all we know of Socrates’ thought is what Plato has him say in various dialogues—he apparently was a master at leading his opponents into contradicting themselves. Plato and Aristotle, on the other hand, were prolific writers and doers who wrote widely on everything (Logic, Ethics, etc. and Science in the case of Aristotle), started the academies that made Athens famous and dominated philosophy until Galileo, Newton and the enlightenment 2000 years later. The importance of these early thinkers was not so much their systems of thought as their struggle to understand their world by reasoning. According to Aristotle the aim of human life is Eudaimonia, which translates as successful, admirable living and all round good fortune leading to a contented state of mind. The age of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates was followed by various competing sects—Epicureans, Stoics and Sceptics being the better known, and finally by the stifling rise of the Christian Church.
There was a two-way exchange between philosophy, on the one hand, and the development of science, economics, psychology, mathematics, sociology, etc., on the other hand, over the 2000 years following the Age of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; an age which saw the collapse of the Roman Empire, the rise of the Christian church and the general collapse of thought as the dark ages swept over Europe. Fortunately, the learning of ancient Europe was preserved and extended in the Arab world until it was rediscovered during the Renaissance in the 14th and 15th centuries
In 1543 Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) published his account of the earth rotating about the sun, refuting both Aristotle and the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Shortly afterwards, Giordano Bruno, a Catholic friar, was burned at the stake for holding this view. Galileo (1564-1642) agreed with Copernicus about the earth rotating about the sun, disagreed with Aristotle and the Church about heavenly and earthly bodies being subject to different forces and built telescopes to view the heavenly bodies and confirm his theories. Galileo also agreed with Democritus and the Epicureans about the atomistic theory of matter, which was recognized to be in conflict with the Church doctrine which held that when bread and wine were consecrated by a priest that they became transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ, for which beliefs he was condemned by the Church. God was brought into the atomic theory to placate the Church and allow the development of a mechanical science of nature by Gallileo, Kepler, Descartes and Hobbes to go forward. The best thinkers of the 17th century were struggling with questions of how is mental activity to be described in terms of Democritus’ particles of matter, what is the place of man in a mechanistic universe and what is the place of God, laying the groundwork for Newton.
Having said that, I think Gottlieb's book is far superior as a history of philosophy.
Now, I know the book to give to people wanting to know more about the History of Western Philosophy: this book. Gottlieb's writing is superb, and the narrative flow works excellently. It is extremely throughly researched and sourced, so that if you want to learn more, you can look at his sources easily. More than that, the tone is respectful and objective, and Gottlieb explains the context as well as the arguments of the ancients. Some ideas are very confusing from a modern persepective, but Gottlieb always does a good job of explaining how the idea came about, what environment the idea lived in, and he tries to give the best gloss to it. This is what we need to do if we are to actually engage in new ideas, or consider new ones.
I really, really recommend this book, as it is just full of interesting stories about philosophy, and the interesting people of philosophy. I can't wait to read Gottlieb's next book The Dream of Enlightenment.