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The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers [Paperback]

By Will Durant (Author)
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Item description for The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers by Will Durant...

Examines the history of speculative thought by focusing on such dominant personalities as Plato, Bacon, Spinoza, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche

Publishers Description
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.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers by Will Durant has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2002 page 27

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Pocket
Pages   704
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.78" Width: 4.36" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1991
Publisher   Pocket
ISBN  0671739166  
ISBN13  9780671739164  

Availability  50 units.
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More About Will Durant

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Will Durant (1885-1981) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (1968) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977). He spent more than fifty years writing his critically acclaimed eleven-volume series, "The Story of Civilization "(the later volumes written in conjunction with his wife, Ariel). A champion of human rights issues, Durant's writing still educates and entertains readers around the world.

Will Durant was born in 1885 and died in 1981.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy

Reviews - What do customers think about The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers?

Durant likes his women young--and his philosophers old...  May 28, 2008
This is a good book which you--if you have any interest in philosophy--should read. Durant is a fine (albeit opinionated) writer, and the philosophers he selects for illumination are treated with scholarly respect and no (except for Spinoza) hagiography. Durant's critiques never range into unfair territory, even when he confronts philosophers who disparage views--such as socialism--which he, Durant, holds dear.

There are a few typos and factual errors (viz. Durant's assertion on page 411 that Wagner was "half-Semitic"), but the book overall has a nice organic flow, and some essential hand-holding when Kant and other obscurantist Teutons are examined.

There are numerous conspicuous absences from amongst the more famous practitioners of philosophizing ("space forbids" as Durant sheepishly admits), and one who wants the WHOLE enchilada should acquire a copy of Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. If you peek into that and your hair turns gray, however, The Story of Philosophy may be the set of training-wheels which will enable you to ride Russell's more formidable and scholarly work.
The good, the bad, and the categorical imperative...  May 25, 2008
*The Story of Philosophy* is a clearly written, entertaining, and illuminating survey of the major movements in western thought from Socrates to Santayana, from Aristotle to American pragmatism. Given its easy colloquial style, it's easy to overlook that this book was originally written in the mid-1920s. But one should be aware that this means there's nothing here about existentialism, structuralism, post-modernism, etc.--the story ends with John Dewey. Still what is here is presented with a light tough, colored with the author's characteristic wry humor and everyman bonhomie.

As befitting a general survey of philosophy, Durant doesn't plunge too deeply into the issues touched on in this book; but he's not entirely superficial either. What you get is each philosopher's most characteristic speculations on the big questions of life and how they fit into the overall "story" of human thought. Durant has a gift for making the complex and obscure comprehensible to the layman. Anyone who can summarize Kantian metaphysics in a handful of forthright pages and trim away all the fanciful theoretical falderal from the Hegels of the philosophical world are certainly to be commended--and appreciated. Perhaps what's best--and most enlivens this book--is the wealth of anecdote about the personal lives of these semi-mythical titans of thought. It's easy to forget that these big brains were housed in flesh-and-blood bodies subject to the same fears, prejudices, diseases, desires, and disappointments as the rest of us--and that these all-too-human factors played a significant role in their subsequent philosophy.

On occasion, Durant lets his own prejudices get unduly in the way of presenting the ideas of his philosophical protagonists--especially when any philosopher such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, or Spenser takes a particularly dark view of life or suggests that it may not, all in all, be worth living. Durant seems to feel it incumbent upon him to combat such negativity with a most unwelcome--to me, anyway--sunnyside-up rebuttal complete with the sort of Hallmarkian-style platitudes the more pessimistic among us have been groaning at since high school and find even *more* depressing than the hopelessness of which they were meant to relieve us. Yes, it's wonderful to hear birds singing, to watch children at play--sunrises, sunsets, and a good pork chop can all be a delight that inspires one to poetry; but are they worth the cancers, the wars, the car wrecks, the funerals of friends and loved ones, the catheters, the senility, the probes, the colonoscopies, the morphine drip, the casket, urn, or mausoleum we're all destined for when all's said and done? One can, in all rationality and good faith, without being the victim of a fit of childish peevishness, disenchanted idealism, or lack of maternal affection say no, no it's really not worth it, I'm stuck here yes and must make the best of it and enjoy what I can, still, all the same, thanks but no thanks, I'll pass, I wish I'd never been born.

Anyway, if you can ignore Durant's annoying proclivity to pedestrian peptalks and middle-of-the-road pedantry and aren't looking for "the rest of the story" of philosophy after the turn of the 20th century, than this general survey is definitely worth the while of those who want a sound introduction to the major figures of the western philosophical tradition.
Compilation of great philosophers  Apr 1, 2008
I was reading this book while I'm on my vacation and to my surprise, I've fall in love with philosophy instantaneously. After all this years, I didn't know that I have shared the same dogma as the world's greatest philosophers. This book is a great introduction for those who are keen on philosophy or simply wanted to gain knowledge about the history of philosophy.
Adore this, but wish for the hardcover rare edition   Feb 12, 2008
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.
This book is a gem  Jan 8, 2008
I took philosophy at USC in the 1950's and didn't understand any of it, not the text book or the professor. After finishing the course I read Story of Philosophy by Durant and all became clear. This should have been the text book, but I guess certain authors make their money through professors making their class buy unintelligible books.

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