Confessions of a Philosopher: A Personal Journey through Western Philosphy from Plato to Popper

Overview

In this infectiously exciting book, Bryan Magee tells the story of his own discovery of philosophy and not only makes it come alive but shows its relevance to daily life. Magee is the Carl Sagan of philosophy, the great popularizer of the subject, and author of a major new introductory history, The Story of Philosophy. Confessions follows the course of Magee's life, exploring philosophers and ideas as he himself encountered them, introducing all the great figures and their ideas, from the pre-Socratics to ...

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Overview

In this infectiously exciting book, Bryan Magee tells the story of his own discovery of philosophy and not only makes it come alive but shows its relevance to daily life. Magee is the Carl Sagan of philosophy, the great popularizer of the subject, and author of a major new introductory history, The Story of Philosophy. Confessions follows the course of Magee's life, exploring philosophers and ideas as he himself encountered them, introducing all the great figures and their ideas, from the pre-Socratics to Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper, including Wittgenstein, Kant, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer, rationalism, utilitarianism, empiricism, and existentialism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A restless intellect and independent outlook characterize this candid autobiography, which will richly reward the serious reader."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
New Orleans Times-Picayune
...a generous and engaging intellectual autobiography [that] contains something for just about everyone...[full] of ingratiating and profound discussions [as well as] savagely witty remarks.
Elle
An irresistible read...he takes you through the puzzles of time and space, human morality, the nature of reality, the truths we know and the ones we don't, with the inspired guidance of Kant, Aristotle [and] Schopenhauer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375750366
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Series: Modern Library Paperbacks Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 982,072
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Bryan Magee has taught philosophy at Oxford and has also taught and lectured at several colleges and universities in the United States. His books include The Great Philosophers, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, and Aspects of Wagner. He lives in London.

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Table of Contents

1 Scenes from Childhood 3
2 My Introduction to Academic Philosophy 18
3 Logical Positivism and Its Refutation 34
4 Linguistic Analysis 55
5 The Inadequacy of Linguistic Philosophy 74
6 The Problem of Perception 91
7 What Can Be Shown but Not Said 107
8 A Yale Education 123
9 The Discovery of Kant 139
10 Professional Versus Amateur Philosophy 163
11 Getting to Know Popper 179
12 Getting to Know Russell 203
13 First Attempts at a Political Philosophy 213
14 The Search for Meaning 228
15 Mid-Life Crisis 252
16 A Philosophical Novel 276
17 Groves of Academe 304
18 In Praise of Popularization 317
19 The Limits of Philosophy 336
20 The Discovery of Schopenhauer 350
21 The Philosophy of Schopenhauer 374
22 Philosophy on Television 403
23 The Main Split in Contemporary Philosophy 412
24 Left Wondering 431
Index 465
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2001

    A fascinating, enoyable look at philosophy

    There are many books that serve as inroductions to philosophy, but this is the most unique and engaging that I've read. Magee's impressive knowledge of philosophy - he's personally known several of the most notable modern philosophers - is further amplified by his obvious love of the subject. A great variety of topics are covered, such as morality, politics, aesthetics and religion. But despite these weighty subjects, the book remains amiable and enjoyable; Magee's writing never sounds pompous or pithy. This book conveys philosophy's wonder and value as well as, if not better than, any other book on the subject.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Clear and insightful overview of the fundamental problems and key figures in philosophy

    Written in an easily-readable style, Confessions introduces the genuine and timeless problems in epistemology and metaphysics (Is there an independent reality? If so, can we, and how can we, describe it? etc.) and critically exposes the self-serving, ignorant arrogance of Oxford philosophy in the mid 20th century (linguistic analysis).

    Magee describes a balanced life immersed in four spheres, which may be often mistakenly viewed as mutually exclusive: the arts, philosophy, politics and television/radio broadcasting. Through them, he unveils philosophy as he himself experienced it; in his own words, "it is about ideas: the autobiographical element is medium, not message." Yet the medium is what shows the relevance of philosophy to personal life, for the fascination with and terror of fundamental philosophical problems that Magee experienced in his youth -- and had continued to experience -- is palpable.

    Despite numerous instances of repeating Kant's Transcendental Idealism and reiterating the faults of inauthentic philosophical movements, and though existentialism is conspicuous only by its absence, Confessions succeeds in instilling interest and encouraging thought in the layman. Highly recommended.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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