An Illustrated Brief History of Western Philosophy / Edition 2

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This illustrated edition of Sir Anthony Kenny's acclaimed survey of Western philosophy offers the most concise and compelling story of the complete development of philosophy available.

Spanning 2,500 years of thought, An Illustrated Brief History of Western Philosophy provides essential coverage of the most influential philosophers of the Western world, among them Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Jesus, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche, Darwin, Freud, Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein.

Replete with over 60 illustrations - ranging from Dufresnoy's The Death of Socrates, through to the title page of Thomas More's Utopia, portraits of Hobbes and Rousseau, photographs of Charles Darwin and Bertrand Russell, Freud's own sketch of the Ego and the Id, and Wittgenstein's Austrian military identity card - this lucid and masterful work is ideal for anyone with an interest in Western thought.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for the previous edition:

“The 22 chapters of this history are lucidly written and with enough humour in them to cheer up the educated general reader even in the midst of the most arid of philosophical discussions.” Times Higher Education Supplement

"This is simply a jolly good read, with pithy historical and biographical scene-setters, authoritative accounts of how successive philosophers have contributed to the development of Western thought, and often brilliant single-sentence summaries." Church Times

"A richly detailed, critical look at philosophy, displaying both Kenny's love for philosophical engagement and for good history...Kenny's style is unpretentious, effective, and at times wonderfully informal and amiable." Review of Metaphysics

Library Journal
The second edition of this book, originally published in 1992, has been updated primarily with 50 illustrations, 16 of them in color. English philosopher Kenny (The Unknown God: Agnostic Essays) describes philosophy as providing "not knowledge, but understanding." He explains that the role of philosophy is not to give us new information but to help us gain a clearer understanding of concepts and theories. Kenny considers this a strength of philosophy and uses history to show the general educated reader how philosophy has contributed to our understanding of the world and of ourselves. Chapters cover either a specific time period in philosophy or a major philosopher. Plato, Aristotle, Ren Descartes, Immanuel Kant, and Ludwig Wittgenstein have their own chapters, while individuals who have influenced philosophy, like Jesus, Charles Darwin, and Sigmund Freud, have sections within their respective time period. Kenny begins each section by explaining the philosopher's ideas and reasoning, then critically analyzes that person's conclusions. While he has not written a complete history of Western philosophy, Kenny does achieve his goal of presenting the ideas of past philosophers in a very easy-to-understand yet engaging way. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries, though libraries owning the 1992 edition may want to pass. Scott Duimstra, Capital Area Dist. Lib., Lansing, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405141802
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/7/2006
  • Series: Wiley Desktop Editions Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 7.11 (w) x 10.04 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Sir Anthony Kenny was formerly Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Oxford University, Master of Balliol College, Oxford and Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford. He was also President of the British Academy, Chairman of the Board of the British Library and a Trustee of Wittgenstein’s copyrights. He is the author or editor of more than 40 books, including Wittgenstein (Revised Edition, 2006), Frege: An Introduction to the Founder of Modern Analytic Philosophy (2000) and The Legacy of Wittgenstein (1984), all published by Blackwell.

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Table of Contents


List Of Illustrations.


1. Philosophy in its Infancy.

2. The Athens of Socrates.

3. The Philosophy of Plato.

4. The System of Aristotle.

5. Greek Philosophy after Aristotle.

6. Early Christian Philosophy.

7. Early Medieval Philosophy.

8. Philosophy in the Thirteenth Century.

9. Oxford Philosophers.

10. Renaissance Philosophy.

11. The Age of Descartes.

12. English Philosophy in the Seventeenth-Century.

13. Continental Philosophy in the Age of Louis XIV.

14. British Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century.

15. The Enlightenment.

16. The Critical Philosophy of Kant.

17. German Idealism and Materialism.

18. The Utilitarians.

19. Three Nineteenth-Century Philosophers.

20. Three Modern Masters.

21. Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics.

22. The Philosophy of Wittgenstein.


Suggestions for Further Reading.


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