{Pdf} A History of Western Philosophy And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present DayAuthor Bertrand Russell – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk


Since Its First Publication In 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


10 thoughts on “A History of Western Philosophy And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day

  1. says:

    There s a throwaway remark in this book which has haunted me ever since I read it some time in the mid 70s Russell is talking about Socrates, and he wonders if Socrates actually existed Maybe Plato made him up I don t think many people would have been able to make up Socrates, muses Russell But Plato could have done it It s hard not to continue this line of reasoning If Socrates turns out to be fictional, who else is And which fictional characters of today will later be accepted as historical persons The you think about it, the you start feeling that the world really is a Philip K Dick novel.


  2. says:

    A Critical Patronizing Survey of Western PhilosophyRussell is consistently opinionated throughout his presentation and it might confuse some of the readers that he is so casual in writing off some of the major philosophers and their key ideas This is because the book is not a mere history of philosophy, a mere account of ideas, by any stretch Instead it is a critical survey, a long catalogue of what Russell agrees and disagrees with among all the major doctrines The format followed is a brief historical sketch to give context to a doctrine, an even briefer explanation, and then a long critical take that will put forward Russell s opinions, usually about why it is misguided in the light of modern scientific approach And often than not, he is wary of those ideas which, from the point of view of his war torn present, seemed dangerous In fact, I think that three strands of vexation can be discerned 1 Leading to orthodoxy in religion2 Leading to rigidity in logic3 Leading to Totalitarian fantasiesAny idea which Russell felt was tending towards these were roundly attacked and put in place Must have felt like a humanitarian act, writing this book After all, the long stretch of time that allowed Russell to undertake the tome was granted him by a stay in prison his crime was distributing pacifist literature during the First World War Hitler caused him to later renounce his pacifism, to the point that he wished he were younger so that he might don a uniform himself.If you were to attempt a history of philosophy, you can write a history without imposing on the reader what your own opinions are Or you can write a history just to let the reader know exactly what you as a thinker of some standing yourself, you might add think of each philosopher Or you can write a history and try to justify why you prefer some, even one, than the others Russell has opted to for a mix of the last two options and he prefers himself over all others, that s all As the book progresses it becomes and clear that it is a summary of Russell s views, and not of the philosophers being discussed This means that most of them gets short shrift And as we approach modern times it is amusing to see how Russell is almost impatient for the history to quickly reach and culminate in his own position of Logical Positivism, which he clearly thinks is the best approach to philosophy and in the light of which he judges everyone else This allows him to narrate the entire historical progress in a patronizing and all knowing tone that might be jarring to a reader who is not willing to take the same attitude towards Russell s own naivete You have to out patronize the patronizing author to enjoy this fully That is the trick And if you do, there is no end of fun to be had form this eminently readable epic.


  3. says:

    I stole this off my father s shelves many years ago The indications on the inside cover was that he read it in Finland in 1959 I think he once missed a train there and the next one wasn t for a week.It s true that this is in many respects a heavy, dry, and testing read On the other hand it s full of interesting anecdotes about the philosophers themselves, from the earliest of ancient Greeks to Russell s contemporaries in the 20th century And Russell, a mathematician of the highest order as well as a starred philosopher is a clear and concise writer, careful to present each person s work in the context of its time, and showing how to some extent such philosophy shaped and refined the period it came from Moreover the author s wit shows through on most pages and he has a definite way with words.Just as we have authors today writing to make the most esoteric physics accessible to the layman through intelligent precis and analogy, Russell appears to have been a populist of his time This is very definitely an introduction, a guide, a setting of the development of philosophy through a string of individuals and schools, rather than a thorough examination of any particular one of them It is likely one of the most accessible of serious works on philosophy, but given the era that produced it 1940s and the elevation of its author, it will place demands on the reader.It ends if I remember correctly with a summary of his own work in Principia Mathematica and a fascinating account of how Godel undermined Russell s masterwork twenty years later.Very well worth reading Join my 3 emails a year newsletter prizes..


  4. says:

    This is a remarkable book Over the years I have found various reasons to look into it now and again, but have never read the whole thing Mostly I ve read the bits about particular philosophers Heraclitus, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Marx for example I hadn t realised that dipping in this way was missing much of the point of the book This is not just a history of Western Philosophy, but also a bit of a how do all of the main schools of Western Philosophy fit into their culture and times So, much time is spent giving thumb nail sketches of the history of certain periods in a way that will help the student of philosophy understand where philosophers were coming from when they said such bizarre things as nothing changes, everything changes, everything is fire, everything is water, matter does not exist, mind does not exist, and so on.He makes some truly fascinating points in this book not least that there is no philosophy that is wholly logically consistent and that sometimes the danger is when a philosopher seeks to remain logically consistent rather than acknowledge the horrendous conclusions that the logical consistency of his ideas forces him toward I use the male pronoun not simply because Russell also uses it throughout, but because all of the philosophers discussed sport a Y chromosome The book is divided into three parts Ancient Philosophy, Catholic Philosophy and Modern Philosophy It was written during the Second World War and I think this shows in part, particularly when Russell is discussing the merits of some philosophers not least Nietzsche and Marx I had thought that I would find the middle section on Catholics the least interesting I believe that we moderns feel we have much in common with Ancients than we do with the Catholic scholastics of the dark and middle ages but Russell is very kind to these philosophers, although in the main I found them to be little than pedants adding Christian footnotes to Plato and Aristotle Perhaps, in another life, I will have time to read one or two of them and see if my attitude changes.This is not a book that requires either an extensive knowledge of philosophy, nor an extensive knowledge of history to be understood Russell is a remarkably clear writer something that for a philosopher really is worth commenting on and something that deserves the highest praise He also is occasionally quite amusing Now, I know that people who follow either Marx, Kant, Hegel, Dewey, Nietzsche or even Aristotle might find quite a few things to say in disagreement with Mr Russell, but that in no way takes away from the value of this book I ve listened to a Teaching Company Great Ideas In Philosophy course which covered all of the philosophers discussed here, and I think Russell does at least as good a job as was done there Invaluable is a word that is grossly overused on this site particularly by me but I do think this book gives an invaluable helicopter view of the history of Western Philosophy that is both accessible and often profound I once received my lowest mark in my degree for saying pretty much what Russell says here about his mate Dewey I am rather proud of the fact that I ve only discovered our shared view now twenty years later I ve always found Instrumentalism otherwise known as Pragmatism a thoroughly unsatisfactory philosophical standpoint, despite both James and Dewey seeming to be nice enough people in themselves My main problem with the total rejection of the possibility of any sense that there might be truth which Russell, as might be expected, confines to logical statements has always had a bit of a smell about it When I said this in a class paper at Uni I was nearly lynched by both the lecturer a declared Instrumentalist and the other students who knew better than I which side their bread was buttered I think Russell s arguments in this section are similar to the ones I tried to make, but are made in a way that is infinitely clearer than I was capable of at the time a time when I was keen to seem very philosophic ie, totally unclear Essentially, I ve always thought that to move away from discussing the truth of statements and to instead consider their efficacy is a slippery slope and one that can all too easily bring us to splash down into logical and moral difficulties.His discussion of Bergson s philosophy was enough to ensure I will never read anything by Bergson I find irrationalism dull and, what is even worse, mind numbingly poetic in the very worst sense of that word Sometimes one needs to be obscure because what you are trying to say does not allow you to be immediately clear However, as Russell displays so beautifully in this book, that is rarely really necessary and the onus is on the writer to make it clear why being turgid or obscure to the point of impenetrability is in either the interests of the reader or the writer.What is best about this book is that it has inspired me to read some Plato I started his complete dialogues some time ago, but things got in the way Russell s discussion of Socrates and his relationship to Plato is worth reading the book on its own Plato is a fascinating character, not least because it seems a case can be made that he became increasingly less convinced of his theory of forms as his dialogues went on Given that this is the core of his system, this would seem somewhat of a problem.The book ends by saying that a consistent philosophy that takes into consideration Quantum Theory is still to be written as little as I know of modern philosophy, I would imagine the intervening 60 years have done little to correct this want Quantum Theory still remains an enigma and all too often leaves the door wide open for all types of very silly ideas.This is a book that repays the effort of reading it it is not a short introduction by any means being over 800 pages , but it is only a difficult read when he discusses philosophers like Hegel and Bergson who are notoriously difficult anyway For what this book sets out to do pretty much, give the average reader an overview of Western Philosophical thought and its place within Western Culture and History, it does a remarkable job Although I still think it is very handy as a ready reference on a great many philosophers it is much better, as I ve found, to have read it all first.


  5. says:

    A History of Western Philosophy And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, Bertrand RussellA History of Western Philosophy is a 1945 book by philosopher Bertrand Russell A survey of Western philosophy from the pre Socratic philosophers to the early 20th century, it was criticised for Russell s over generalization and omissions, particularly from the post Cartesian period, but nevertheless became a popular and commercial success, and has remained in print from its first publication When Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, A History of Western Philosophy was cited as one of the books that won him the award Its success provided Russell with financial security for the last part of his life.Content Ancient Philosophy Catholic Philosophy and Modern Philosophy 1978 1340 1345 1348 1351 1365 1373 1940 1943 1944


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  7. says:

    I enjoyed this a bit too much The History of Western Philosophy is exactly my kind of book, and so this review will be biased.This, however, illustrates my first point One s opinion of this work will largely depend on one s opinion of Russell This is because he frequently injects his views, ideas, and opinions into the text I happen to love the guy I m sure reactions will differ.In this history, Russell does not entirely succeed in his stated goal What he was trying to do was to firmly situate major thinkers in their historical and cultural context, and then explore the ways that history both shapes and is shaped by these thinkers This is successful in the first two thirds, but drops off rather steeply in the section on modern philosophy Following this plan, the book is divided into chapters on history and chapters on philosophers.Russell is an excellent writer Even his fiercest critics grant him this merit He has a knack for presenting abstract ideas with penetrating clarity On top of this, he has a delightfully dry sense of humor, which he employs to great effect in breaking up turgid analysis In general, Russell is at his strongest when presenting the philosophy itself he is at his weakest when writing history His ability to generalize is the cause of both qualities.As I mentioned above, Russell frequently injects his own views into the book It should be noted, though, that he is crystal clear when he is doing so The reader is never confused as to whether it is Russell s idea or that of the philosopher under discussion The bulk of these additions are Russell s opinions on philosophical problems and the success of their attempted solutions Because Russell himself is one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, these discussions are some of the most fascinating parts of the work I would go so far to say and I am in no position to say this that no other book can give the student a greater insight into Russell s thinking He takes the opportunity to address nearly every aspect of philosophy ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, political philosophy, etc.Russell, like everybody, has biases He is particularly antagonistic to Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Rousseau Nevertheless, I found his discussions of their ideas to be quite fair The Nietzsche chapter even ends with a fictional conversation between Nietzsche, Buddha, and God The only philosopher who I thought was manhandled was Plato, who Russell treats as he would any contemporary advocate of totalitarianism He doesn t add that Plato almost singlehandedly created political philosophy.The reader of this book must be conscious of when it was written at the height of WWII Keeping this in mind, many of the motivations for Russell s views become much sensible In the background of the text, running through every page, is his grappling with the questions what is the future for civilization How did Hitler come to wield so much power Russell comes to the conclusion that the Nazis represent the culmination of a strain of anti intellectualism and romanticism inaugurated by Rousseau and carried forward by Nietzsche, with roots extending all the way back to Plato I disagree with this analysis However, in my opinion, when seen in this light, almost all of the flaws in this work vanish In fact, it would have been despicable to not have been concerned with these issues.Russell believed that educating the population in science, skepticism, and rational thinking were the keys to preventing further atrocities and making the world a better place This book, written for a popular audience, is a part of that effort The world could use people like Bertrand Russell Note Something I forgot to mention This book may not be so great an introduction to philosophy for beginners Russell is opinionated, so you are likely to get a skewed picture of a philosopher s outlook and relevance if you re first exposed to him through Russell Additionally, because Russell is an imposing thinker himself, this book is not philosophy lite A History of Western Philosophy is far enjoyable once you have actually read the thinkers yourself This makes the experience of reading Russell s opinions like having an intelligent conversation with a fellow reader Russell is not an expert on many of the subjects he is writing about here, so it is quite legitimate to disagree with him In fact, that s part of the value of this book.


  8. says:

    Enjoyed the comprehensive eye opening knowledge Highly recommended.


  9. says:

    OverviewBertrand Russell s History consists of 76 Chapters, almost all under 20 pages.Each Chapter contains a summary of one major philosopher s key arguments interlaced with criticism that reflects Russell s own priorities and perspectives In a sense, it is one philosopher judging the work of another.We therefore need to exercise caution in relying on Russell s methodology, perspectives and conclusions.Apart from this reservation, I actually really enjoy his style He is very clear and seems to be quite worldly and amusing I get the impression I might have enjoyed sitting next to him at a dinner party.My Reading ProjectAs part of a broader reading project, I will read and review some individual Chapters in My Writings.I will post links to My Writings below.Immanuel Kanthttp www.goodreads.com story show 3It s worth noting that he gives Kant space than Hegel and almost twice as much space as Marx.


  10. says:

    At first it seems impressive that a single individual could accumulate such a vast understanding of Werstern Philosophy from Thales to Dewey At first it seems that the work is well researched, objective, and only humorously judgemental at times And for the first five hundred pages these feelings seem to preside Yet, when Russell reaches what, to me, is the important period of Philosophy, namely the modern period from the Rennaisance till the present, I find that Russell s analysis of each philosopher begins to grow shallower, leading not to a decent caricature or snapshot of the work in question, but to a wholly unfair criticism of all those Russell finds himself at odds with.Strangely enough, with the men of history that he finds himself in agreement with, he expresses a humility in regards to their work, clearly laying out his interpretation even though he dares not say that he truly understands m as fully as intended this same humitlty, when faced with Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kant, Hegel etc is turned into a ridiculous and hypocritical demolition of their works on a shallow basis It remains unclear whether Russell in fact understands the depths of his opponent s work, although it doesn t matter to him.Sadly, even to an amateur as myself, his criticisms seem to miss the point entirely In what I assume to be an attempt at avoiding obscurantism and reaching a simplicity for the layman, it seems that he has relegated subtlety for the blockish ideas of solid forms No philosophy stands fairly against such disregard for language, intepretation etc.Overall the work may act as a decent introduction to philosophy as a whole, but I personally feel you would be better off delving into the faster read and likely honest books out there Philosophy for Dummies, Introducing Philosophy etc I m sure this book would be much to the liking of anyone with the same mindset as Russel himself, but have to say that objectivity is here greatly tarnished by shallow thought, misunderstanding, stupidity yes , and an obsession with modern day values and prejuidices with no apparent explanation for his own ethical standpoint.