AUTHORITATIVE AND ACCESSIBLE, THIS LANDMARK WORK IS THE FIRST SINGLE-VOLUME HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY SHARED FOR DECADES
'A cerebrally enjoyable survey, written with great clarity and touches of wit' Sunday Times
The story of philosophy is an epic tale: an exploration of the ideas, views and teachings of some of the most creative minds known to humanity. But there has been no comprehensive history of this great intellectual journey since 1945.
Intelligible for students and eye-opening for philosophy readers, A. C. Grayling covers with characteristic clarity and elegance subjects like epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, logic, and the philosophy of mind, as well as the history of debates in these areas, through the ideas of celebrated philosophers as well as less well-known influential thinkers.
The History of Philosophy takes the reader on a journey from the age of the Buddha, Confucius and Socrates. Through Christianity's dominance of the European mind to the Renaissance and Enlightenment. On to Mill, Nietzsche, Sartre, then the philosophical traditions of India, China and the Persian-Arabic world.
And finally, into philosophy today.
Grayling (The God Argument), founder of London's New College of the Humanities, presents an impressive, comprehensive catalogue of great thought and thinkers in this sweeping survey. Focusing on Western philosophy (a concluding section sketches Indian, Chinese, African, and Arabic- and Persian-language philosophical traditions), the volume chronologically surveys significant thinkers including, but not limited to, Plato, Aristotle, and Kant, who emerge here as the foremost figures and enlivens discussions of their schooling, influences, and arguments with judiciously applied anecdote, such as how Thomas Aquinas's brothers smuggled a prostitute into his room in a (futile) attempt to stem his religious fervor. Overviews on related schools of thought are equally enlightening, clearly distinguishing, for instance, between Stoic and Epicurean philosophies of early Rome, 19th-century movements like positivism and pragmatism, and the 20th century's diverging analytic and Continental schools. Perhaps Grayling's greatest strength lies in his ability to categorize, contrast, and clarify complex ideas, such as Plato's theory of forms and Kant's categorical imperative. Elegant, clear, and precise, Grayling's sweep through "the principal areas of enquiry" distills philosophy to its main concerns: discerning the nature of reality, the principles of sound society, and how to live a good life. Clearly outlining "the little patch of light" that he pictures as comprising human knowledge, Grayling's superb work is an indispensable resource for any "serious student of ideas."