“A history of philosophy in twelve thinkers…The whole performance combines polyglot philological rigor with supple intellectual sympathy, and it is all presented…in a spirit of fun.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“If one of philosophy’s crucial tasks is to snap us out of complacency and re-frame the parameters of debate, then there is always scope for a roll call of practitioners who have particularly enjoyed inspiring the ‘moment when the gears shift.’…Geuss, who wears his expansive learning lightly, has interesting things to say about them all.”
“Exceptionally engaging…Geuss has a remarkable knack for putting even familiar thinkers in a new light.”
—Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Raymond Geuss explores the ideas of twelve philosophers who broke dramatically with prevailing wisdom, from Socrates and Plato in the ancient world to Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Adorno. The result is a striking account of some of the most innovative thinkers in Western history and an indirect manifesto for how to pursue philosophy today. Geuss cautions that philosophers’ attempts to break from convention do not necessarily make the world a better place. Montaigne’s ideas may have been benign, but the fate of those of Hobbes, Hegel, and Nietzsche has been more varied. Yet in the act of provoking people to think differently, philosophers remind us that we are not fated to live within the systems of thought we inherit.