Since its first publication in 1945? Lord Russell's A History of Western Philosophy has been universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject -- unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace and wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century. Among the philosophers considered are: Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the Atomists, Protagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Cynics, the Sceptics, the Epicureans, the Stoics, Plotinus, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Benedict, Gregory the Great, John the Scot, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Occam, Machiavelli, Erasmus, More, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians, Marx, Bergson, James, Dewey, and lastly the philosophers with whom Lord Russell himself is most closely associated -- Cantor, Frege, and Whitehead, co-author with Russell of the monumental Principia Mathematica.
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A must read
I read Bertrand Russell’s “History of Western Philosophy” twice. My first reading was almost three years ago and then I came out appreciating philosophy in General. However, I fail to understand so much of the content such as on Leibniz’s logic & monadology & Kant’s distinction of synthetic vs. Analytic . So I decided to read other works on the history of Philosophy such works of Anthony Kenny’s four volume on the new history of western Philosophy which was chronological and themantic in its approach. I decided then to read Copleston’s multi-volume on the history of philosophy. The massive Copleston’s work is detailed and includes almost every Philosophers. Finally, I read Gottlieb’s dreams of enlightenment.
Somehow, I decided to revisit Russel’s work again and it is the most enlightening and thought provoking work. A lot of concepts and ideas that I fail to understand initially were much more penetrating and clearer on the second reading. Though written almost 80 years ago yet it remains the best introductory to the history of Philosophy. Every author I mentioned above attempted to compare and excel their work to Russell’s history of Western of Philosophy yet his work the best so far.
Russell contributed immensely to the field of Philosophy, logic and mathematics. Analytic Philosophy the dominant Anglo-American philosophy owes largely to Russell for its Origin and development and success. He was the champion of anti-war movement and advocated world peace throughout his long life and career.
This work is a must read for academician and University graduate.