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The Dream of Reason: Library Edition
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The Dream of Reason: Library Edition

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  417 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The Dream of Reason is a stunning successor to Bertrand Russell's 1945 classic, A History of Western Philosophy. In this landmark new study of Western thought, Anthony Gottlieb looks afresh at the writings of the great thinkers, questions much of conventional wisdom, and explains his findings with unbridled brilliance and clarity. From the pre-Socratic philosophers through...more
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Published February 1st 2003 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published December 30th 2000)
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Cheryl
Anthony Gottlieb's THE DREAM OF REASON invites you to join the great conversation begun in the fifth century BC and continuing today. The questions asked are arguably the most profound...how should we live, are we fundamentally good or bad, is there life after death, and do we exercise free-will or are our decisions determined?

Philosophy appeals to those who like to think, to contemplate the meaning, goals, and purpose of life. While solitude appeals to some, others want to read the history of...more
Susan
For some reason I’ve always felt essentially uneducated because I didn’t have a “classical education”. I didn’t learn Latin or Greek (though I worked a fair way through a Teach Yourself Latin book once when I was reading Ulysses and felt my lack most particularly). I never studied Greek or Roman history either after high school. My interests tended to be contemporary and American. I also only remember taking one philosophy class and it was not very memorable. I’ve read some Plato and Aristotle,...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
I am absolutely floored that people did not give this book five stars. I was so impressed that now that I am done with the book I am planning on turning right around to read it immediately again. Absolutely a new favorite. I have studied the more ancient philosophers very heavily and have never read such beautiful correlations between great minds as put forth by Gottlieb. Extremely simple and very elegant. This is exactly what I was looking for to solidify time periods and thinkers together. I d...more
Jonathan B
He makes some shallow and, I think, unnecessary criticisms of religion throughout the book, even when it seems like a side track.

For example, the implication that Milesian philosophers are somehow more rational for trying to explain things via naturalism seems absurd. Why should the reader think a naturalistic explanation is more rational than an agential one? This criticism seems more poignant since the Milesian theories often seem even more absurd than some of the agential theories they would...more
Michael Johnston


It's hard to cover thousands of years of early philosophy in a light hearted way. Nonetheless, this author has a sense of humor and a light touch and generally covers a dense and complex series of topics in a way that is accessible to the non-academic.

The introduction is actually quite humorous and many of the perspectives on the early philosophers were new and enlightening for me. For example the author does not blame the influence of the church (as many do) for the intellectual waste land of...more
Hiram Crespo
It has taken me many moons to complete this book, which I’ve greatly enjoyed. I was seeking a good, non-superficial introductory book that delved into the history of Western thought and philosophy, one that would confer a good basic grasp of the issues and complexities of the evolution of men’s thought.

The main benefit of reading this book is that it’s chronological and starts with the earliest Greek philosophers. In the process of reading, one clearly understands how each thinker was reacting t...more
ArEzO.... Es
روياي خرد
تاريخ فلسفه غرب از يونان باستان تا رنسانس
كتاب از ميلتوسي ها شروع مي كند
از فيثاغورسيانن هماهنگي عالم و هراكليتوس و پارمنيدس و زنون و امپدوكلس و آنا كساگوراس و دموكريتوس و سوفسطاييان و سقراط و افلاطون وو ارسطو
ادامه مي دهد ...
اما
هيچ كس بدرستي نميداند فلسفه را چه كسي آغاز كرده است؟
Joshua
too much of the author's opinion, not enough history. The author seems to think he can know what someone's intentions were 2500 years ago.
Brendan
It bills itself as an updated version of Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy" and that seems to be somewhat accurate, in both good and bad ways. First, the good: the book is well-written, the material Gottlieb covers is well-chosen, and he manages to give a coherent view of the "big picture" that can easily get lost in more "scholarly" histories. The bad: Gottlieb (like Russell, though to much lesser extent) sometimes seems to overstate thinkers' mistakes, perhaps in an effort to s...more
Jonathan Biddle
Gottlieb gives a pretty good overview of Western philosophy beginning with the Greeks. He's a very clear writer and effectively summarizes the main ideas of the primary philosophers. The strength of the book is his description of Greek philosophy. He ties their main ideas together in brilliant ways, revealing that he has actually read their writings and is not just regurgitating other people who have read them. He traces the development of philosophy beyond the Greeks and shows the dependence of...more
Tim
Now I have to say out of the gate, that I have read several histories of philosophy. I wanted to read one recently published as a kind of refresher. So in Gottlieb's defense, my rating of his book of only three stars is in comparison to Gordon Clark, Copplestone, Durant, and Bertrand Russel. So, I'd say he faired pretty good. Had this been my first book on the history of philosophy, I probably would have rated it higher.

This is a brief (in comparison to Coplestone, ok?) history of philosophy by...more
Lage von Dissen
Gottlieb does a great job examining who many believe to be the most influential philosophers that have contributed to Western thought. From Thales of Miletus to Erasumus of Rotterdam, Gottlieb illustrates how Western philosophers have influenced other branches of humanity including the sciences, politics, and religion to name a few. Philosophical views have evolved quite a bit over time, but one thing has remained the same: the human drive to try and find an understanding of the world around us....more
Ross
The largest part of the book deals with the Greek philosophers in the 3rd and 4th century bce. This was very interesting for me because I was trained in science and was never exposed to their teaching to the extent that liberal arts majors would be. The author does a good job poking gentle fun at their nonsensical speculations about the nature of the universe. He then turns to their thinking about the nature of man and morals. The thing that struck me was the degree to which supernatural ideas o...more
Mark Grannis
I just finished re-reading this book, and I'm glad I did, which is perhaps about as high a compliment as can be paid, considering the infinite number of other books there are to read. I think Gottlieb is at his best with the pre-Socratics, and is also very good with Socrates (whom he considers apart from Plato), Plato, and Aristotle.

The back third of the book was in my opinion marred by a few too many potshots at medieval Christianity. I wish Gottlieb had tried to climb inside the mind of St. T...more
John Martindale
this book was well written and interesting. Gottlieb went into a decent amount of detail on the Greek Philosophers, there was a lot that I heard for the first time and I wish I had someone to discuss the content of the book with. Gottlieb seemed to be pretty fair and accurate, though I did get the strong impression that he is an atheist, for faith is often shown to be in opposition to reason, killing curiosity and hindering the pursuit of knowledge and stifling progress. But yeah, I got the impr...more
Kathryn
Gottlieb has managed to express in clear comprehenible language the evolution of western ideas and philosophy through the Renaissance. -- My one quibble is how easily he dismisses the human religious impulse. He does a fine job of explaining the impact of religion on philosophical thought, the way the church in the middle ages tried to bend philosophy to suit its needs, and how ideology of all sorts interferes with the quest for understanding. But besides all this, which is good, I felt frustrat...more
M.L.
It took a long time to troop through this one. It's not that the book is uninteresting, but that the topic is a little dry. Any history of thought takes a similar tack.

...A long time ago, there was an idea. It was wrong. So a new idea was developed. It was wrong. So then there was another idea. Etc, etc, until we catch up to today.

A good history of thought is not the right place to go to discover good thinking (unless you skip right to the final chapter).

What is less fun is that this book stops...more
Gordon
Not for everyone, but very useful for professionals of leadership, social science and philosophy. Anthony Gottlieb's provides a wonderfully readable and historical review of ancient philosophical thought that is as entertaining as it is educational. However, after a superb review of the Ancient Greek Philosophers he stutters through the Middle Ages and Renaissance leaving the reader perplexed as to why he just didn't stop in 400 AD. I would highly recommend any serious student of philosophy to r...more
Gavin
Great book on the history of philosophy to Descartes. The author does a great job of connecting ideas between philosophers from all ages. For example, he shows how the ideas of the ancient greek philosopher Democritus (who theorized that the world was made of "atoms") kept popping up throughout the history of philosophy until they were eventually accepted by most of the world.

The influence of Aristotle and Plato on early Christianity was also fascinating. The writing is clear and often quite cl...more
Camille
This book was very informative but also a bit overwhelming for me, a philosophy newbie. I listened to this on audiobook and the reader did a great job of telling this story. She was animated and delivered the little jokes perfectly but I still should have read this instead of listening to it so I could have put the book down to ponder every confusing point.
Dave
I read several positive reviews when the book was first released. Digital audio affords me the portability and convenience to make time for it. The story of philosophy from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the Renaissance. I enjoyed the author's choice of highlights, asides and comparison of various schools.
Vivian
A very thorough overview of philosophers, mostly Greek, some Roman, after Rome was condensed, but still seemed to cover in detail. The book is a fairly slow read, but the writing style is enjoyable with bits of humor in an indepth discussion of each philosopher or school.
Stephen
Accessible history of philosophy book. Not as dense as Russell. Not as distracting as Sophie's World or whatever the Sophie book is called. The beginning of the book promises a sequel that would cover the Renaissance but none appears forthcoming.
Ernest
Full of surprises and disappointments. In general, much of the history of philosophy is deflationary to the human ego. Full intellectual satisfaction practically is non-existent. And so, now, I'm still waiting for Gottlieb's next volume.
Kevin Hartman
This was a great history lesson in the development of western philosophy. The manner in which Gottlieb covers difficult concepts make them easy to understand and definitely contributed to my enjoyment of this particular book.
Nik
If you like history and philosophy, pick this book up. I loved the audiobook narration. Its not boring at all if youre interested in philosophers lives & how they interacted with each other thru history. I enjoyed it alot!
Tiffany
Oct 01, 2009 Tiffany rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: found it in the library
I like philosophy, which I discovered in first year university, which I followed up with many more classes... So this book was in my field of interest.
Dan
Excellent overview of philosophy, or history of ideas, from the Pre-socratics up to Descartes, but with plenty of informative asides to later philosophers.
Kendar88
Couldn't get through it. Interesting how naive people were just 100 and 200 years ago. Hard to believe that trend will continue, but it probably will.
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“A small but typical example of how ‘philosophy’ sends out new shoots is to be found in the case of Georg Cantor, a nineteenth-century German mathematician. His research on the subject of infinity was at first written off by his scientific colleagues as mere ‘philosophy’ because it seemed so bizarre, abstract and pointless. Now it is taught in schools under the name of set-theory.” 0 likes
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