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Posted September 21, 2002
An excellent book, apparently derived from a TV series that I never watched. Every survey of western philosophy has to be measured against Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy. So how does Lavine's book fare? Very well in fact. In the first place, the two books are somewhat complementary. Consider the philosophers that Lavine emphasizes: Plato, Descartes, Hume, Hegel, Marx, and Sartre. Now consider Durant's choices: Plato (of course!), Aristotle, Bacon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Kant, Schopenhauer, Spencer, Nietzsche, Bergson, Croce, Russell, Santayana, James, and Dewey. The only overlap between the two is, inevitably, Plato. As the list shows, Durant's survey is more encyclopedic, while Lavine's is perhaps more suited to the age of television and short attention spans (though in no way does it trivialize its subject). But I actually found Lavine's survey to be more useful in terms of illuminating the history of ideas that lead to self knowledge, which is ultimately the most critical aspect of philosophy. Lavine also has an outstanding ability to summarize the key ideas that we owe to each philosopher, to the point where reading the original afterwards can be an anticlimax (surely, an unintended result!). And even more clearly than Durant, Lavine shows how the history of ideas determines how we think and what we take for granted.
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Posted March 8, 2013
The service from AMAZON sucks. I still haven't received my book. Ad when I requested a refund she told me that it was on the way. What a RIP OFF!!!
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