Monday, July 11, 2011

Understanding Philosophy

I can't say that I do, but Michael Lawrence reviews "a priceless tool in understanding the history, the meaning, and the possibilities of philosophy," which helped me in that direction — Knowing and Unknowing: Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy. Says the reviewer,
    After the empiricists and rationalists, I’ve found, much philosophy can be dense and downright indiscernible for the amateur reader like myself. With these writers Russell does a marvelous job of crystallizing their work into a recognizable language. With him even Hegel is not insurmountable.
I read Bertrand Russell's tome about fourteen years ago, after having been prepared by Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy, which I picked up in an airport. For those looking Eastward, I recommend Feng Youlan's A Short History of Chinese Philosophy.

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Blogger tcasey1914 said...

It has been years since I read Russell's History. The most intersting section, if memory serves, was his chapter on Nietzsche. I don't think Russell had any answer to him.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

I very much like Russell's History. It has a bad reputation among historians of philosophy, because it would really be more accurately titled "Russell's First Impression of a Number of Philosophers in History," and is pretty regularly loose with the evidence. But it was one of the things that got me interested in philosophy, and it has many good features: the gist of the ideas often comes through and (rather surprisingly, given some of Russell's other works) he does a very good job of conveying why these philosophers are worth reading, even when he obviously has no sympathy with them. There really has never been a popular work on Western philosophy like it.

2:06 PM  

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