[download eBook] The Story of PhilosophyAuthor Will Durant – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk

A Brilliant And Concise Account Of The Lives And Ideas Of The Great Philosophers Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Kant, Schopenhauer, Spencer, Nietzsche, Bergson, Croce, Russell, Santayana, James, And Dewey The Story Of Philosophy Is One Of The Great Books Of Our Time Few Write For The Non Specialist As Well As Will Durant, And This Book Is A Splendid Example Of His Eminently Readable Scholarship Durant S Insight And Wit Never Cease To Dazzle The Story Of Philosophy Is A Key Book For Any Reader Who Wishes To Survey The History And Development Of Philosophical Ideas In The Western World


10 thoughts on “The Story of Philosophy

  1. says:

    This was a long postponed book as I always thought it would be a long and trudging read, hard to comprehend and harder to remember afterwards But Durant s treatment of the philosophers and their ideas as organic evolutions of their character and their times was what made the book a joy to read.The ideas and the long dead philosophers come alive magnificently in these pages and Durant even manages to fill one with the thirst to go ahead and read all these works that are compressed and presented here.This is one of those books which takes a long time to read not because they are long and arduous but because you end up spending time thinking about each section than in the reading The best part of the book was the fact that wherever possible the ideas are put forth in the philosopher s own words without commentary or interpretation marring the expostulation.With the right mix of history, biography and philosophy, Durant has achieved a wonderful synthesis and summary of the evolution of thought It leaves one with a tantalizing glimpse of great minds and a partial open door through which is too filled with riches to be left unexplored.


  2. says:

    The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant The Story of Philosophy The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers is a 1926 book by Will Durant, in which he profiles several prominent Western philosophers and their ideas, beginning with Socrates and Plato and on through Friedrich Nietzsche Durant attempts to show the interconnection of their ideas and how one philosopher s ideas informed the next 1986 1336 426 .


  3. says:

    This is the most sensitive look at philosophy I ve ever read Will Durant is brilliant and who wasn t touched by his heartfelt dedication to his wife at the beginning I think what really set this book apart is Durant s inclusion of just enough biographical information of the philosophers to remind you that they were just people like you and me who happened to think deep, amazing things about life and were deeply affected by their own childhoods and personal lives, i.e Nietzsche and his less than sparkling love life This is the book that made me fall in love with philosophy I consider this to be in my top 5 favorite books of all time One problem, however slight as it may be When I first read this book, i had borrowed it from my library and I remember that it was such a beautiful hard cover edition with an elegant binding that made the pages uneven but gorgeous Even the pages themselves had a lovely, aged feel to them due to their thickness Looking back, I realize that instead of checking it out 11 times that year, I should have just stolen it yes i admit it because now all I own is a simple paperback copy that pales in resemblance The story inside dazzles your mind, but how i miss the edition that felt so good to hold.


  4. says:

    This is quite a conservative history of philosophy As such I would probably recommend Russell s work over this one but this has the advantage of being shorter, and that s quite an advantage There are main chapters on a series of key philosophers Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Kant, Schopenhauer, Spencer, Nietzsche and some shorter chapters on Bergson, Croce, Russell, Santayana, James and Dewey Along the way he also mentions Comte, Hegel, Locke, Rousseau and Hume Of the main chapters, about fifty pages are dedicated to the key philosophers I ve listed This is interesting as it generally starts with their life and then moves onto their ideas and ends with a criticism although, often these are rather glowing There are a few nice jokes along the way my favourite being about Santayana someone I knew virtually nothing of before reading this and his version of atheistic Catholicism for want of a better term that he would like to see Europe remain Catholic long after it had given up Christianity and a wit who said, God doesn t exist and Mary is His mother.One of the underlying themes here is that Plato was right that the best form of society is an aristocracy We need to be ruled by the best people Well, this is hardly contentious in one sense better to be ruled by the best of people than the worst but how we are to go about choosing these best of people is where the problems tend to arise If at all possible I think I would rather pass on the Nietzschean artist war lord herd s man superman The interesting thing about this book is that he feels epistemology the theory of how we know stuff has troubled philosophy for far too long and that he felt the time was fast approaching when philosophy would get over epistemology and go back to worthwhile questions particularly to do with how to live a good life ethics His explanations are always clear and generally also insightful He essentially weaves his way through his explanations using the philosopher s own words and drawing together their thinking in ways that clarify what they had to say this is particularly evident with Nietzsche, who does tend to be a bit all over the place Still, as I said, this is a very conservative collection Hegel gets seven pages and his lack of influence on James is highlighted, but not his very strong influence on Dewey Dewey gets half the mention of James who gets about half the mention of Santayana, in virtually inverse relation to any current valuation of their worth, I would suspect I also found it interesting that some philosophers were even selected not sure I would have picked Voltaire in my top ten philosophers for an extended discussion Books that have extensive chapters on Schopenhauer and Nietzsche like The Consolations of Philosophy say do tend to be conservative and, to be honest, I did find myself getting a bit bored hearing their views rehearsed yet again I felt he was kinder to both of these philosophers than he was to Kant but I also think Kant s contribution to philosophy so greatly outweighs either of their s that this would have to be seen as an odd valuation to say the least.I am going to have to spend some time reading Spinoza, but I ve no idea just when I ll get time to read him the requisite two to three times Still, he does sound particularly interesting and I have been meaning to read his Ethics for years I even have it on my bookshelf waiting, always waiting It s a good thing Spinoza is so patient.This wasn t a terrible overview of the history of Philosophy but I guess it could accurately have been called, Some of My Favourite Philosophers if you know what I mean.


  5. says:

    The Story tried to salt itself with a seasoning of humor, not only because wisdom is not wise if it scares away merriment, but because a sense of humor, being born of perspective, bears a near kinship to philosophy each is the soul of the other.A while ago, as I began to set about learning philosophy, I bought a used copy of this book, but I never got around to reading it The book sat, unread, on my shelves for a few years, its yellowed pages only growing yellow, and its already cracked and broken spine castigating me from my bookshelf every time I passed by About four or five months ago, I finally decided to get down to it but I quickly lost interest Every time I put the book down, I waited a long time before picking it up again and it was only when I downloaded an audiobook, last month, that I was able to finish Durant s popular history of philosophy This difficulty in finishing is the clearest indication of how I felt about it I was unimpressed Though by no means a bad book, and one with many good qualities, I can t say I would recommend this book to anyone, for I believe Durant does an injustice to his topic Simply put, this is both a poor history of philosophy, and a poor introduction to it The book fails to convey adequately what philosophy is, what philosophers do, and how philosophy developed There is little of intellectual or academic interest in these pages, and despite its eloquence I often managed to find it quite dull The trouble comes early on, when Durant makes this announcement The author believes that epistemology has kidnapped modern philosophy, and well nigh ruined it he hopes for the time when the study of the knowledge process will be recognized as the business of psychology, and when philosophy will again be understood as the synthetic interpretation of all experience rather than the analytic description of the mode and process of experience itself.The absurdity of the above paragraph is obvious to anyone who has read a fair share of philosophy Writing a history of philosophy while omitting epistemology is like writing a history of chemistry while refusing to talk about chemical bonds Epistemology is a central part of philosophy, and, besides, a central concern of the greatest modern philosophers so any treatment of the subject lacking epistemology is doomed to miss the mark.Besides this, I would also like to point out that the above quote reveals an intellectual weakness as well How could epistemology be the subject of psychology, a science Epistemology asks What is knowledge This is clearly not a subject that can be investigated empirically or decided scientifically, for scientific investigation already presupposes that knowledge is empirical in nature So already Durant is showing himself to be a poor philosopher, as well as a poor historian When we get into the thick of Durant s book, we encounter an even general problem Durant s modus operandi throughout this work is to treat the ideas of philosophers as byproducts of their experiences and their personalities Not only does this often leads him into cheap psychoanalyzing such as speculating about how Nietzsche s father and mother influenced his outlook as well as broad and often ridiculous generalizations about peoples and places the Germans do this, the Jews do that , but, damningly, turns systems of philosophy into mere quirks of personality and whims of fancy In this book, philosophers are artists, not thinkers Although Durant would have you believe that this is the wise and cosmopolitan perspective on the matter, this fails completely to do justice to these men Philosophy is, among other things, the art of argumentation Philosophers good philosophers, at least are extremely focused on the logical reasons for their beliefs This is embodied in that great creation myth of Western philosophy, Plato s tales of Socrates, wherein that old sage wanders from citizen to citizen, perpetually demanding to know the reasons why they believe what they do Plato s Socrates is always asking, What do you mean by this word And why do you mean it that way The final goal of the philosopher is to harbor no dogmatic opinions and by dogmatic I mean opinions that are accepted without scrutiny but rather to probe and investigate every assumption, idea, and goal in life Durant s treatment of philosophers does exactly the opposite In Durant s hands, philosophers are mere pundits, who spout theories left and right without taking the time to justify them Durant s chapters on their ideas are mere liturgies of opinions and the final impression is that philosophy is just the art of having pompous and high sounding views about grandiose subjects It is absolutely worthless to know that Plato believed in a world of ideal forms without knowing why he did so and the same goes for every other philosopher s view This emphasis on reason and argument is what separates philosophy from philosophizing but you will find almost exclusively the latter in this book I would be being unfair if I didn t acknowledge that many of this book s faults are due to its genesis This book was originally published as a series of pamphlets for the Blue Book series, which were inexpensive paperbacks for worker education This origin largely explains why this book contains such a huge chronological leap, from Aristotle all the way to Francis Bacon, and also why Durant continually emphasizes the practical over the theoretical, the biographical over the intellectual.Less excusable, perhaps, was Durant s choice to write a chapter on Voltaire, who wasn t even a philosopher, and Herbert Spencer, who was obsolecent even back when this book was written Much better would have been a chapter on John Locke, who formulated many of the ideas later endorsed by Voltaire, and John Stuart Mill, a contemporary of Herbert Spencer who has had a much lasting effect on the subsequent history of philosophy While I m at it, I think a chapter on Descartes would have been much better than a chapter on Francis Bacon who is a fairly minor figure in the history of philosophy , for Descartes was also a pioneer of science, as well as a great mathematician, not to mention the father of modern philosophy For these reason, I would much highly recommend Russell s History of Western Philosophy over this book, as Russell, being himself a philosopher, at least does his best to reconstruct the reasons for other philosophers views, even if Russell sometimes falls short in this task I also want to note, in passing, that Durant considers Russell s early work in logic and mathematics to be pure hogwash, whereas most philosophers today consider that to be Russell s most enduring work The only place that Durant surpasses Russell is in his chapter on Kant, which I think is a truly excellent piece of work, and a good place to start for any students seeking to understand that obscure German metaphysician Other than this brief flash of sunlight, the rest of this book is nothing but passing storm clouds, rumbling ominously, constantly threatening to rain, and yet passing overhead with nary a drop, leaving us as parched as they found us.


  6. says:

    The Story tried to salt itself with a seasoning of humor, not only because wisdom is not wise if it scares away merriment, but because a sense of humor, being born of perspective, bears a near kinship to philosophy each is the soul of the other.A few years ago, as I began teaching myself philosophy, I bought a used copy of this book But I could never seem to get around to it So its yellowed pages only grew yellow, and its already cracked and broken spine castigated me from my bookshelf every time I passed by Thus, to relieve my conscience, I finally decided to dive in but I quickly lost interest Every time I put the book down, I waited a long time before picking it up again and it was only when I downloaded an audiobook that I was able to finish Durant s popular history of philosophy This difficulty in finishing is the clearest indication of how I felt about it I was unimpressed Though by no means a bad book, and one with many good qualities, I can t say I would recommend this book to anyone, for I believe Durant does an injustice to his topic Simply put, this is both a poor history of and introduction to philosophy it fails to convey adequately what philosophy is, what philosophers do, and how philosophy developed There is little of intellectual or academic interest in these pages, and despite its eloquence I often managed to find the book quite dull The trouble comes early on, when Durant makes this announcement The author believes that epistemology has kidnapped modern philosophy, and well nigh ruined it he hopes for the time when the study of the knowledge process will be recognized as the business of psychology, and when philosophy will again be understood as the synthetic interpretation of all experience rather than the analytic description of the mode and process of experience itself.The absurdity of the above paragraph is obvious to anyone who has read a fair share of philosophy Writing a history of philosophy while omitting epistemology is like writing a history of chemistry while refusing to talk about chemical bonds Epistemology is a central part of philosophy, and, besides, a central concern of the greatest modern philosophers so any treatment of the subject lacking epistemology is doomed to miss the mark Besides this, I would also like to point out that the above paragraph reveals an intellectual weakness as well How could epistemology be the subject of psychology, a science Epistemology asks What is knowledge This is clearly not a subject that can be investigated empirically or decided scientifically, for scientific investigation presupposes that knowledge is empirical in nature In other words, by the time you set out to do science, epistemology is over and done with So already Durant is showing himself to be a poor philosopher, as well as a poor historian When we get into the thick of Durant s book, we encounter an even general problem Durant s modus operandi throughout this work is to treat the ideas of philosophers as byproducts of their experiences and their personalities Not only does this often lead him into cheap psychoanalyzing such as speculating about how Nietzsche s father and mother influenced his outlook as well as broad and often ridiculous generalizations about peoples and places the Germans do this, the Jews do that , but, damningly, turns systems of philosophy into mere quirks of personality and whims of fancy In this book, philosophers are artists, not thinkers Although Durant would have you believe that this is the wise and cosmopolitan perspective on the matter, this fails completely to do justice to these men Philosophy is, among other things, the art of argumentation Philosophers good philosophers, at least are extremely focused on the logical reasons for their beliefs This is embodied in that great creation myth of Western philosophy, Plato s tales of Socrates, wherein that old sage wanders from citizen to citizen, perpetually demanding to know the reasons why they believe what they do Plato s Socrates is always asking, What do you mean by this word And why do you mean it that way The final goal of the philosopher is to harbour no dogmatic opinions and by dogmatic I mean opinions that are accepted without scrutiny but rather to probe and investigate every assumption, idea, and goal in life Durant s treatment of philosophers does exactly the opposite In Durant s hands, philosophers are mere pundits, who spout theories left and right without taking the time to justify them Durant s chapters on their ideas are mere litanies of opinions and the final impression is that philosophy is just the art of having pompous and high sounding views about grandiose subjects It is absolutely worthless to know that Plato believed in a world of ideal forms without knowing why he did so and the same goes for every other philosopher s view This emphasis on reason and argument is what separates philosophy from philosophizing but you will find almost exclusively the latter in this book I would be being unfair if I didn t acknowledge that many of this book s faults are due to its genesis This book was originally published as a series of pamphlets for the Blue Book series, which were inexpensive paperbacks for worker education This origin largely explains why this book contains such a huge chronological leap, from Aristotle all the way to Francis Bacon, and also why Durant continually emphasizes the practical over the theoretical, the biographical over the intellectual Less excusable, perhaps, was Durant s choice to write a chapter on Voltaire, who wasn t even a philosopher, and Herbert Spencer, who was obsolescent even back when this book was written Much better would have been a chapter on John Locke, who formulated many of the ideas later endorsed by Voltaire, and John Stuart Mill, a contemporary of Herbert Spencer who has had a much lasting effect on the subsequent history of philosophy While I m at it, I think a chapter on Descartes would have been much better than a chapter on Francis Bacon who is a fairly minor figure in the history of philosophy , for Descartes was also a pioneer of science, as well as a great mathematician, not to mention the father of modern philosophy For these reason, I would much highly recommend Russell s History of Western Philosophy over this book, as Russell, being himself a philosopher, at least does his best to reconstruct the reasons for other philosophers views, even if Russell sometimes falls short in this task I also want to note, in passing, that Durant considers Russell s early work in logic and mathematics to be pure hogwash, whereas most philosophers today consider that to be Russell s most enduring work The only place that Durant surpasses Russell is in his chapter on Kant, which I think is a truly excellent piece of work, and a good place to start for any students seeking to understand that obscure German metaphysician But other than this brief flash of sunlight, the rest of this book is nothing but passing storm clouds, rumbling ominously, constantly threatening to rain, and yet passing overhead with nary a drop, leaving us as parched as they found us.


  7. says:

    The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant is an excellent book which discusses the lives and works of famous philosophers from ancient Greek to recent Continental and American Philosophers It is well known that Philosophy books, even the expository ones, tend to be obscure and it seems compulsory for every student of Philosophy to inch her way through the difficult, and often obfuscated, text Many just flee because they come for some consolations and are simply not interested, and prepared, to dive into this mess, only to get confused.The importance of this present book lies precisely here Will Durant was brave enough to do a thorough reading of the canonical texts of Western Philosophy and present us lucid, and in no sense diluted, account of the major points of each system And his achievement, in accomplishing this end, is stellar In a very clear prose that scintillates with his wit, he passionately painted the lives and times of the prominent Philosophers my personal favourite among them are those about Spinoza and Kant , their main contributions and, also, provided critique of their opinions So, I must say that this is an indispensable book for the beginners of Philosophical readings.Having said that, some points, in my opinion, are worth mentioning First of all, the author is passionate and has strong opinions make no mistake about it I am not saying that it affected the whole of the book negatively but, nonetheless, it is present Then, the author didn t even mention Oriental Philosophers in a book titled as The Story of Philosophy There is, for sure, difference between Darshan and philosophy, but that does not justify this omission It seems The Story of Western Philosophy would be a appropriate tile Also, I don t know why, he always associated pessimism with Eastern thinking this at places becomes quite unintelligible In spite of these deficiencies, I would heartily recommend this book My only suggestion is don t make this the book on Philosophy.


  8. says:

    Ok, so I can only give this book two stars for the following reasons According to the admittedly arbitrary GR star signification system, two stars means it s ok This is, of course, a bit of an arbitrary distinction amid arbitrariness stars wtf since a definitive statement isn t really being made Ironically, I m going to have to back up my seemingly arbitrary statement with some definitive ones Ambiguity be damned Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late So I definitely applaud the book for being a popular, cheap, relatively compact, little buffet of philosophical thought It definitely turned a lot of curious people old and young alike into the initially forbidding worlds of Plato, Epictetus, Hegel, Kant, Locke, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, et al That s a really good thing It doesn t really matter what the particular qualities of the gateway drug are, it s important where it leads you If this book got people to start mulling over the dialectic and the categorical imperative and existenz then that s no doubt a good thing But, at the same time, I strongly suspect that Mister Durant is kind of full of shit I mean, I m no expert on the history of philosophy but I think there s a handy way to keep anthologies and intro fests to a sort of gold standard Read the excerpts that deal with your particular area of expertise and you ll most likely get a sense of the kind of perspective the book itself is taking I know a lot about Nietzsche I know, I know, but still and I was pretty much shocked to see how Durant does him in his specific entry Nietzsche s father, a solider, died when lil Fred was small Ok Sure That s a fact, alright, but This meant that Nietzsche had a misplaced dad warrior obsession that led him to draw some crazy conclusions about master slave and ubermensch and all that Nope Nopenopenopenope That s just weak, lazy presupposition and lame as hell summary or explication of Nietzsche s work Bargain basement psychoanalyzing of a guy who knew himself some psychology and he didn t always get it from a book, either that really actually obfuscates the issue at hand, which is to introduce the neophytes to important figures in the history of Western thought Honestly, the I think about it the annoyed I get I mean, seriously Love or hate the guy but don t pigeonhole him because of one event that happened BEFORE HE PROBABLY EVEN KNEW IT DID and let that wrap up decades of intense reflection What, judge Kant by his metronomyic daily walk around the block or Bentham by the fact that he wanted to beermummified after he died it s true, dig it I m plenty happy to psychoanalyze philosophers, but only to a point You can t brusquely shade over someone s entire philosophical career with shite like that Unless, you re assuming that you don t actually need to teach people something about their work and can pretty much just wrap it up in the guise of brevity or metaphor, but, if this were true why bother in the first place So, ipso facto, this book s explanations of other thinkers is rendered pretty highly suspect Good to break people like me in, who find august names like Spinoza and Heidegger daunting but am deeply curious about what they thought, but potentially very bad if this kind of shite is all you have to go on.


  9. says:

    This is the best introduction to Western philosophy that the layman can find It s a dummies book which, however, does not assume that the reader is a dummy.I would have given it a five, had it included Eastern philosophies too.


  10. says:

    As a total philosophy novice, this book served as a great introduction lucidly written, a gripping kaleidoscopic look at the lives of some of the great thinkers of our time, and largely accessible apart from the unavoidable strays into abstruse philosophy talk To me, philosophy is most appealing when applied to the political, social or personal realm it s the metaphysical part that I struggle to get my head around The most interesting sections in this book were those that dealt with the early Greek philosophers Voltaire and his strong convictions against political inequality and religious persecution and the life of the mad man Nietzsche who I don t necessarily agree with but put across his views in the most arresting, compelling and fiercely poetic way possible Spinoza and Kant I found to be intriguing yet baffling, although I desperately wanted to understand them better, particularly as the views of the former were borne from the kind of discrimination that most heroes suffer from What I did get from him is that we need not become atheists if we don t believe in God, but just understand that God is Nature, impartial, but also a guiding light when we need to see wisdom in the dark Spinoza does not accept the divinity of Christ, but puts him first among men I found Schopenhauer s incessant negativity a bit depressing, and Herbert Spencer s sci fi like vision of the world evolving and then dissolving fascinating but full of too many sweeping generalizations Among other things, this book made me questions the merit of democracy and revolutions did they really bring about the changes desired in the first place In the case of Russia didn t it even beget if not a worse system a worse abuse of power by the ruling class The nemesis of revolution is that in order to survive they must restore the tyranny they destroyed As libertarian as I like to be, American philosopher George Santayana poses a very interesting question is man better off as Hinduism often preaches being content with his own lot instead of participating in and therefore perpetuating to infinity the rat race of life which is the cause of so much lack of inner peace What Santayana despises above all is the chaos and indecent haste of modern life He wonders was there not happiness for men in the old aristocratic doctrine that the good is not liberty, but wisdom, and contentment with one s natural restrictions the classical tradition knew that only a few can win But now that democracy has opened the great free for all, catch as catch can wrestling match of laissez faire industrialism, every soul is torn with climbing, and no one knows content Dubious, but haven t all of us wondered at some point that ambition in the wrong hands can be the root of many ills Plato for example thought that politics could benefit from a slight elitism leaving power in the hands of those who were most competent to rule, rather than allow leaders to be selected on the basis of crowd pleasing attributes When we are ill we call for a trained physician, whose degree is a guarantee of specific preparation and technical competence we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one well then, when the whole state is ill should we not look for the service and guidance of the wisest and the best To devise a method of barring incompetence and knavery from public office, and of selecting and preparing the best to rule for the common good that is the problem of political philosophy An idealistic view, thoroughly debatable, but one guided by enlightened principles what is perfect philosophy if not that Seriously, I m still not sure But at least I feel I m on the road to knowing thanks to this great book.