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A Short History of Philosophy

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Philosophy is a singularly expansive enterprise, a fascinating outgrowth of a human nature that demands we question who and why we are. In A Short History of Philosophy, the most accessible concise portrait of philosophy in seventy years, Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins meet the challenge of accurately and engagingly describing it all, revelling in philosophy as "the art of wonder," the search for meaning, a gripping, dramatic endeavor.
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Overview


Philosophy is a singularly expansive enterprise, a fascinating outgrowth of a human nature that demands we question who and why we are. In A Short History of Philosophy, the most accessible concise portrait of philosophy in seventy years, Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins meet the challenge of accurately and engagingly describing it all, revelling in philosophy as "the art of wonder," the search for meaning, a gripping, dramatic endeavor.
Here is the entire history of philosophy--ancient, medieval, and modern, from cultures both East and West--described in its historical and cultural context. "The concepts that lie at the heart of philosophy antedate history by thousands of years," the authors write in their introduction, noting that the ancient concept of immortality, prehistorical ideas about magic, and the complex set of beliefs implied by the practice of human sacrifice all exhibit philosophic underpinnings. Solomon and Higgins chart the profound development of philosophical thought around the world and through the centuries from the first stirrings of speculation and wonder to the rise of distinct (and often antithetical) philosophical traditions, moral constructs, and religious practices. From the early Greek and Asian philosophers and the mythological traditions that preceded them, to the great Greek, Indic, and Chinese philosophers, to the drama of the great religious philosophies, the authors have spun a marvelous tale that leads to the development and decline of modernity. Along with the major characters, such as Aristotle, Kant, and Confucius, Solomon and Higgins draw engaging portraits of less well-known alchemists, mystics, rebels, eccentrics of all sorts, including figures often ignored in philosophy--figures such as Teresa of Avila, who contributed to the mystical traditions of Catholicism; al-Razi, a contrarian Persian philosopher within the Arabic tradition who described the philosophical life as "godlike;" and Erasmus, the Dutch philosopher who parodied the foolishness of man in his praise of folly.
With a clear, witty style and a flair for making complex ideas accessible, the authors also convincingly demonstrate the relevance of philosophy to our times, emphasizing the legacy of the revolutions wrought by science, industry, colonialism, and sectarian warfare, and the philosophical responses to the traumas of the twentieth century (including two world wars and the Holocaust): existentialism, positivism, postmodernism, feminism, and multiculturalism among them. But Solomon and Higgins go beyond merely retelling the rich history of philosophy; the authors provide their own twists and interpretations of events, resulting in a story that reveals the continuing complexity and diversity of a richly textured and nuanced intellectual tradition. All who are "lovers of wisdom" will find much to reward them in this book.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An audacious, incisive, and engaging history that breaks new ground in conveying so succinctly the extraordinary scope and depth of philosophical inquiries throughout the world. In so doing, it offers a welcome antidote to the many efforts to routinize, isolate, and constrict the study of philosophy or to dismiss it as outdated or irrelevant. Never dull, this volume will challenge, surprise, sometimes provoke readers and, throughout, invite them to argue, to try out new perspectives, to go back to the original sources, and thus to become more active participants in perennial philosophical debates that remain as indispensable as ever."—Dr. Sissela Bok, Distinguished Fellow, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, author of Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life and Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195086478
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/4/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Lexile: 1310L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Authors:
Robert C. Solomon is Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of more than twenty books, including From Hegel to Existentialism, About Love, and A Passion for Justice.
Kathleen M. Higgins is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author or editor of many books, including Nietzsche's Zarathustra and The Music of Our Lives. This is their sixth book together.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Chronology
I. The Search for World Order: Ancient Philosophy
The "Axial Period" and the Origins of Philosophy
The "Miracle" of Greece
Philosophy, Myth, Religion, and Science
Meaning and Creation: Cosmogony and the Origins of Philosophy
Vedas and Vedanta: Early Philosophy in India
The First (Greek) Philosopher
The Pre-Socratic Philosophers (I): The Stuff of the World
The Pre-Socratic Philosophers (II): The Underlying Order
The Pre-Socratic Philosophers (III): The Pluralists
Enter the Sophists
Socrates
Plato: Metaphysician or Sublime Humorist?
The Philosopher's Philosopher: Aristotle
A Footnote to Plato (and Aristotle)
Tough Times: Stoicism, Skepticism, and Epicureanism
Mysticism and Logic in Ancient India: Nagarjuna and Nyaya
II. God and the Philosophers: Religious and Medieval Philosophy
Religion and Spirituality: Three Philosophical Themes
The Wisdom of the East (I): Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism
The Wisdom of the East (II): Confucius and Confucianism
The Wisdom of the East (III): Lao-tzu, Chuang-tzu, and Taoism
Deep in the Heart of Persia: Zoroastrianism
From Athens to Jerusalem: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
The Hebrew People and the Origins of Judaism
Greek Jew: Philo of Alexandria
The Birth of Christianity
The Opening of Christianity: St. Paul
Neoplatonism and Christianity
St. Augustine and the Inner Life of Spirit
The First Great Split Within Christianity
The Rise of Islam
Mysticism
Persia and the Peripatetic Tradition
Diaspora, Dialectic, and Mysticism in Judaism
Thinking God: Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, and Scholasticism
Late Scholasticism: Duns Scotus and William of Ockham
In Search of Essences: The Alchemists
Philosophical Syntheses Outside the West
The Reformation: Luther and His Progeny
The Counter-Reformation, Erasmus, and More
After Aristotle: Bacon, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and the Renaissance
Before the "Discovery": Africa and the Americas
III. Between Science and Religion: Modern Philosophy and the Enlightenment
Science, Religion, and the Meaning of Modernism
Montaigne: The First Modern Philosopher?
Descartes and the New Science
Spinoza, Leibniz, Pascal, and Newton
The Enlightenment, Colonialism, and the Eclipse of the Orient
Locke, Hume, and Empiricism
Adam Smith, the Moral Sentiments, and the Protestant Ethic
Voltaire, Rousseau, and Revolution
Immanuel Kant: Saving Science
Kant's Moral Philosophy and the Third Critique
The Discovery of History: Hegel
Philosophy and Poetry: Rationalism and Romanticism
Romantic West Meets East: Schopenhauer
After Hegel: Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, and Marx
Mill, Darwin, and Nietzsche: Consumerism, Energy, and Evolution
Early Philosophy in America
IV. From Modernism to Postmodernism: The Twentieth Century
The Rejection of Idealism: A Century of Horrors
Frege, Russell, and Husserl: Arithmetic, Atomism, Phenomenology
Zarathustra in the Trenches: The Limits of Rationality
The American Experience in Philosophy: Pragmatism
Changing Reality: Philosophies of Process
Unamuno, Croce, and Heidegger: The Tragic Sense of Life
Hitler, the Holocaust, Positivism, and Existentialism
No Exit: The Existentialism of Camus, Sarte, and Beauvoir
From Ideal to Ordinary Language: From Cambridge to Oxford
Women and Gender: The Feminization of Philosophy
The Return of the Oppressed: Africa, Asia, and the Americas
From Postmodernism to the New Age
World Philosophy: Promise or Pretense
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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