A Little History of Philosophy Nigel Warburton

Little Histories
Publication date:
15 Sep 2011
Yale University Press
260 pages: 216 x 140mm
42 b-w illus.

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Philosophy begins with questions about the nature of reality and how we should live. These were the concerns of Socrates, who spent his days in the ancient Athenian marketplace asking awkward questions, disconcerting the people he met by showing them how little they genuinely understood.This engaging book introduces the great thinkers in Western philosophy and explores their most compelling ideas about the world and how best to live in it. In forty brief chapters, Nigel Warburton guides us on a chronological tour of the major ideas in the history of philosophy. He provides interesting and often quirky stories of the lives and deaths of thought-provoking philosophers from Socrates, who chose to die by hemlock poisoning rather than live on without the freedom to think for himself, to Peter Singer, who asks the disquieting philosophical and ethical questions that haunt our own times. Warburton not only makes philosophy accessible, he offers inspiration to think, argue, reason, and ask in the tradition of Socrates. presents the grand sweep of humanity's search for philosophical understanding and invites all to join in the discussion.

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Nigel Warburton (born 1962) is a freelance philosopher, writer and podcaster. He is best known as a populariser of philosophy, being author of a number of books of this genre, but he has also written academic works in esthetics and applied ethics. He regularly teaches courses on philosophy and art at Tate Modern and writes a monthly column 'Everyday Philosophy' for Prospect magazine. He runs a popular philosophy weblog Virtual Philosopher and with David Edmonds regularly podcasts interviews with top philosophers on a range of subjects at Philosophy Bites.

"A tour of the major ideas and thinkers in the history of philosophy, nicely presented in 40 brief chapters."—"Warburton packs a heck of a lot in to what is something of a Goldilocks volume: neither too much nor too little, the exegesis neither too thing or too thick and lumpy, his Little History can be consumed as a nourishing treat in its own rights or provide the perfect fuel to kick-start anyone’s journey into philosophy."—Julian Baggini, "This book is a little classic, invaluable for the man or woman in the street who would like to know more about philosophy… It suggests that philosophy is ‘not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose’, but a thoroughly enjoyable way to stretch your mind."—Merryn Williams, "Survey the entire history of (western) philosophy through short intellectual biographies of 40 philosophers from Socrates to Peter Singer, in as broadly approachable a style as EH Gombrich’s A Little History of the World. A tall order; that Warburton (of the excellent podcast Philosophy Bites) has succeeded so well is a triumph."—Steven Poole, "The magic of Nigel Warburton’s book is its disarming accessibility. It closely follows the template of ‘A Little History Of The World’ – Ernst Gombrich’s 1935 introductory text for children, recently translated by Yale – and Warburton is the ideal shout for a writer to match Gombrich’s terse charm and easy authority. Anyone who’s enjoyed Warburton’s brilliant podcast series, 'Philosophy Bites', where he and fellow demystifier David Edmonds half-nelson academics into spelling out their their theories, will know he has a special gift for defusing complexity."—Chris Brown, "Nigel Warburton takes the reader on a journey through the history of Western philosophy, in a highly accessible way... Illuminating, informative and most of all enjoyable."—Mary Lussiana, "This fascinating book makes a seemingly impenetrable subject accessible... From the execution of Socrates to today’s animal rights movement, he examines some of the most compelling ideas put forward by some of the brilliant minds of humanity has known."—Gavin Engelbrecht, "By using examples that relate to modern day, Nigel Warburton keeps your interest alive throughout, and promotes enquiry and discussion. This is a book that will appeal to a wide variety of readers, young and old."—

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