"His book...supplant[s] all others, even the immensely successful History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell."―A. C. GraylingAlready a classic in its first year of publication, this landmark study of Western thought takes a fresh look at the writings of the great thinkers of classic philosophy and questions many pieces of conventional wisdom. The book invites comparison with Bertrand Russell's monumental History of Western Philosophy, "but Gottlieb's book is less idiosyncratic and based on more recent scholarship" (Colin McGinn, Los Angeles Times). A New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Best Book, and a Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2001.
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Writing a history of more than 2,000 years of philosophy is no mean feat, and writing it in fewer than 500 pages of intelligent but graceful prose is more difficult still. Yet this is just what Anthony Gottlieb accomplishes in The Dream of Reason, which guides the reader from the earliest Greek philosophers to the pre-Cartesian Renaissance. Gottlieb's project is undeniably ambitious, and by necessity it is big-picture philosophy. But it is exactly this big-picture context that is often lamentably absent from other works of this sort. Gottlieb's skill at rendering historical context makes his account both unusually engaging and surprisingly illuminating.
Gottlieb is an admirable guide through the little-understood pre-Socratic philosophers of ancient Greece, giving fair measure to philosophers who are too often simplified or lampooned. His account of Plato and Aristotle is good too, as is his treatment of the later Hellenistic schools, Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Skepticism. Gottlieb's treatment of medieval philosophy, particularly Thomist and Arabic philosophy, is lean, as the author chooses to focus more heavily on antiquity and the modern era (to be continued in a second volume), and the narrative history that bridges the two. Ever enthusiastic, Gottlieb's storytelling voice and character-driven approach make The Dream of Reason compelling reading. It is an ideal book for nonexperts interested in an appealing and informative history of philosophy as well as for students looking for a lucid and comprehensive account of premodern thinkers. --Eric de PlaceAbout the Author:
Anthony Gottlieb is the author of The Dream of Reason, a former executive editor of The Economist, and has held visiting fellowships at Harvard University and All Souls College, Oxford. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and the New York Times.
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