A History of Western Philosophy: And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (A Touchstone book)

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A History of Western Philosophy: And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (A Touchstone book)

A History of Western Philosophy: And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (A Touchstone book)

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It should also be noted that Russell is snarky to the point that you find yourself having to laugh and share his comment with someone. His comments are withering and witty, but they also serve as a great way of highlighting the flaws with certain arguments or "great" thinkers. If there are a few takeaway points from this book it is that the great minds were way ahead of their time, but that those same minds were confined by the structures of their time. It makes you wonder how many of today's ideas are going to look silly and biased to future peoples. Have you listened to any of Jonathan Keeble’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Babylonia had a more warlike development than Egypt. At first, the ruling race were not Semites, but "Sumerians," whose origin is unknown. They invented cuneiform writing, which the conquering Semites took over from them. There was a period when there were various independent cities which fought with each other, but in the end Babylon became supreme and established an empire. The gods of other cities became subordinate, and Marduk, the god of Babylon, acquired a position like that later held by Zeus in the Greek pantheon. The same sort of thing had happened in Egypt, but at a much earlier time.The Cretans worshipped a goddess, or perhaps several goddesses. The most indubitable goddess was the "Mistress of Animals," who was a huntress, and probably the source of the classical Artemis. She or another was also a mother; the only male deity, apart from the "Master of Animals," is her young son. There is some evidence of belief in an after life, in which, as in Egyptian belief, deeds on earth receive reward or retribution. But on the whole the Cretans appear, from their art, to have been cheerful people, not much oppressed by gloomy superstitions. They were fond of bull-fights, at which female as well as male toreadors performed amazing acrobatic feats. The bull-fights were religious celebrations, and Sir Arthur Evans thinks that the performers belonged to the highest nobility. The surviving pictures are full of movement and realism.

Cogito, ergo sum; God is dead.... Too often the ideas of past philosophers are eclipsed by glib taglines. Russell invites us to go deeper: what motivated these philosophers? How have their ideas evolved? Russell creates a historical context that clarifies their concerns. This book is as much about history as it is about philosophy. “To understand an age or a nation, we must understand its philosophy, and to understand its philosophy we must ourselves be in some degree philosophers. There is a reciprocal causation: the circumstances of men's lives do much to determine their philosophy, but, conversely, their philsophy does much to determine their circumstances.” (p.11) Since its first publication in 1945, Lord Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy is still unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace, and its wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century. You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. 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. Pan, whose original name was "Paon," meaning the feeder or shepherd, acquired his better known title, interpreted as meaning the All-God, when his worship was adopted by Athens in the fifth century, after the Persian war.

Table of Contents

Swanson, Carolyn, 2011, Reburial of Nonexistents: Reconsidering the Meinong-Russell Debate, Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi. Not all of the Greeks, but a large proportion of them, were passionate, unhappy, at war with themselves, driven along one road by the intellect and along another by the passions, with the imagination to conceive heaven and the wilful self-assertion that creates hell. They had a maxim "nothing too much," but they were in fact excessive in everything -- in pure thought, in poetry, in religion, and in sin. It was the combination of passion and intellect that made them great, while they were great. Neither alone would have transformed the world for all future time as they transformed it. Their prototype in mythology is not Olympian Zeus, but Prometheus, who brought fire from heaven and was rewarded with eternal torment. This isn't really a book to read about certain philosophers, nor fields of thought. A History of Western Philosophy is more a cliff notes version of several thousand years of thinking. Definitely an emphasis on the history and context. And it is all viewed through Russell's eyes, his snarky, snarky, eyes. Read more There was a very general development, first from monarchy to aristocracy, then to an alternation of tyranny and democracy. The kings were not absolute, like those of Egypt and Babylonia; they were advised by a Council of Elders, and could not transgress custom with impunity. "Tyranny" did not mean necessarily bad government, but only the rule of a man whose claim to power was not hereditary. "Democracy" meant government by all the citizens, among whom slaves and women were not included. The early tyrants, like the Medici, acquired their power through being the richest members of their respective plutocracies. Often the source of their wealth was the ownership of gold and silver mines, made the more profitable by the new institution of coinage, which came from the kingdom of Lydia, adjacent to Ionia. Coinage seems to have been invented shortly before 700 B.C.

The Orphics were an ascetic sect; wine, to them, was only a symbol, as, later, in the Christian sacrament. The intoxication that they sought was that of "enthusiasm," of union with the god. They believed themselves, in this way, to acquire mystic knowledge not obtainable by ordinary means. This mystical element entered into Greek philosophy with Pythagoras, who was a reformer of Orphism, as Orpheus was a reformer of the religion of Bacchus. From Pythagoras Orphic elements entered into the philosophy of Plato, and from Plato into most later philosophy that was in any degree religious. In this extremely ambitious book, Russell goes through pretty much all of western (and some eastern) philosophy. As he moves from one philosophical epoch to the next, he always sets the scene by describing the historical context that helps the reader understand where the ideas came from. 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. Hailed as “lucid and magisterial” by The Observer, this book is universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject of Western philosophy.

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The Pre-Socratics (including Thales, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Anaxagoras, Leucippus, Democritus and Protagoras) The Cretans had a linear script, but it has not been deciphered. At home they were peaceful, and their cities were unwalled; no doubt they were defended by sea power.

A special mention must go to Jonathan Keeble and his brilliant reading throughout. He perfectly distills Russell's humour throughout, adding a tone of witty irreverence to the book. He also takes every opportunity to show off his acting chops; the Frankenstein's Monster excerpts were particularly entertaining. That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. 'What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy.” The sheer scope of this work is more than I would have sat down to read, but listening to it and learning about the history of philosophy and how it helped build the way the West views the world, the universe, itself, culture, science and art is more than I expected. Where a religion was bound up with the government of an empire, political motives did much to transform its primitive features. A god or goddess became associated with the State, and had to give, not only an abundant harvest, but victory in war. A rich priestly caste elaborated the ritual and the theology, and fitted together into a pantheon the several divinities of the component parts of the empire. In the sphere of thought, sober civilization is roughly synonymous with science. But science, unadulterated, is not satisfying; men need also passion and art and religion. Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination. Among Greek philosophers, as among those of later times, there were those who were primarily scientific and those who were primarily religious; the latter owed much, directly or indirectly, to the religion of Bacchus. This applies especially to Plato, and through him to those later developments which were ultimately embodied in Christian theology.An almost incredible amount of knowledge in so many fields accumulated in a single book but there certainly are flaws.. 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. Considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of all time, the History of Western Philosophy is a dazzlingly unique exploration of the ideologies of significant philosophers throughout the ages—from Plato and Aristotle through to Spinoza, Kant and the twentieth century. Written by a man who changed the history of philosophy himself, this is an account that has never been rivaled since its first publication over sixty years ago. The worship of Bacchus in its original form was savage, and in many ways repulsive. It was not in this form that it influenced the philosophers, but in the spiritualized form attributed to Orpheus, which was ascetic, and substituted mental for physical intoxication.

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