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Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy (FSG Classics) Paperback – March 20, 2007
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Wanting to understand the most fundamental questions of the universe isn't the province of ivory-tower intellectuals alone, as this book's enormous popularity has demonstrated. A young girl, Sophie, becomes embroiled in a discussion of philosophy with a faceless correspondent. At the same time, she must unravel a mystery involving another young girl, Hilde, by using everything she's learning. The truth is far more complicated than she could ever have imagined. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
This long, dense novel, a bestseller in the author's native Norway, offers a summary history of philosophy embedded in a philosophical mystery disguised as a children's book--but only sophisticated young adults would be remotely interested. Sophie Amundsen is about to turn 15 when she receives a letter from one Alberto Knox, a philosopher who undertakes to educate her in his craft. Sections in which we read the text of Knox's lessons to Sophie about the pre-Socratics, Plato and St. Augustine alternate with those in which we find out about Sophie's life with her well-meaning mother. Soon, though, Sophie begins receiving other, stranger missives addressed to one Hilde Moller Knag from her absent father, Albert. [...] Norwegian philosophy professor Gaarder's notion of making a history of philosophy accessible is a good one. Unfortunately, it's occasionally undermined by the dry language he uses to describe the works of various thinkers and by an idiosyncratic bias that gives one paragraph to Nietzsche but dozens to Sartre, breezing right by Wittgenstein and the most influential philosophy of this century, logical positivism. Many readers, regardless of their age, may be tempted to skip over the lessons, which aren't well integrated with the more interesting and unusual metafictional story line. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Sophie's World is a novel that takes us through various stages and developments in history of philosophy, and helps us discern the views of people who were instrumental in bringing about these changes. The book is divided into numerous chapters, but unlike other books, chapters here are divided based on the chronological order of the major events that shook the very foundations of the western world. Each chapter in the book explains the views and ideas of a renowned philosopher during his time or the outcomes of a major philosophical movement that was taking place in the western world. The ideas and views of all major philosophies are debated, and are explained to us as they are narrated to a 15 year old teenage girl in terms she can understand. Since most of the story revolves around the two central characters: Sophie and her teacher, our understanding and feelings about these two characters only increases as we read through the book.
There are at times when you feel that the explanation in some chapters on certain topics is shallow, but I guess this book doesn't emphasize on particular philosophies, and is more of a "introduction to philosophy" book as the title suggests. I particularly liked the chapters on the romanticists, empirical philosophers - John Locke and Hume, and existential philosophy.
The author, Joseph Gardener - a gifted story teller , effortlessly immerses the reader into Sophie's world with his captivating prose. The entire book is written in third person, and for most part, it is a conversation between Sophie and her teacher. A book definitely worth reading for a better understanding of mysteries that surround our lives, and worth reading twice for those who will be taking introductory courses in philosophy. This book definitely deserves the praise it has and has been getting so far.
Several things are left unresolved. For instance, will Alberto and Sophie be able to go back to the real world? Are her mother and friends also part of the "ghost world"? I got the impression at the end that the author was thinking on a sequel. I'd love a sequel on a more detailed treatment of analytical philosophy and logical positivism, including the work of Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russel, Rudolf Carnap , A. J. Ayer and Willard van Orman Quine. He could throw in a little propositional logic for good measure. The story should continue with the same characters of course.
And why stop there? He could have a sequel on the concepts of Math and another on Physics, for example. :-) Just kidding, but I liked the style of the presentation so much, that the idea of the sequels came to me. I might be tempted some day on writing the Math and Physics parts myself, without plagiarizing of course.
I give this book five stars for a very comprehensive and educational primer on Philosophy, but three stars for the strange novel that at times had my head spinning. - A long, but worth reading, strange book - four stars.