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A Short History of Modern Philosophy

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  236 ratings  ·  17 reviews

Discover for yourself the pleasures of philosophy! Written both for the seasoned student of philosophy as well as the general reader, the renowned writer Roger Scruton provides a survey of modern philosophy. Always engaging, Scruton takes us on a fascinating tour of the subject, from founding father Descartes to the most important and famous philosopher of the twentieth ce

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Published November 23rd 1995 by Routledge (first published April 12th 1984)
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Josh Friedlander
A superbly engaging summary of Western philosophy, starting from a brief recap of post-Hellenistic thought (Scruton comes to the defense of the medieval scholastics, showing how their work pre-empted many recent ideas) and then getting into depth from Descartes onwards, culminating in Wittgenstein and the modern conception of philosophy of language. The author's breadth of knowledge is incredible, and he uses his broader understanding of the History of Ideas to inform his portrayal of individual ...more
Bjbernis Bernis
You don't need to spend 8 years in Undergrad (like I did) to understand the basic of Philosophy. This book manages to summarize some of the most difficult material in philosophy without sacrificing too many important details and distinctions. If you haven't taken a course in philosophy, you owe it to yourself and to the world to give this book a read. Philosophy is all about expanding choice; and after reading this book, you'll come to find that many of the beliefs you take for granted might not ...more
Semantics and god got you girls back in the day..
Skipper Boatwright
Not friendly for the lay reader. Tough, but very enlightening read. Good start for understanding postmodern philosophy.
David Williamson
I found this much more useful to read than the Bertrand Russel book.
Tim S.
I found this book quite unfriendly to the lay reader, who I have to assume is the targeted audience for a brief history. The discussions seem far too brief to be of any real enlightenment to the learned philosophy student (not me), and certainly too dense and jargon-laced to be easily understood by the general reader (me).

I've read a number of intro to philosophy-style books, so the ideas and philosophers discussed here are not exactly unfamiliar to me. Nevertheless, I could barely follow Scrut
Richard Newton
A good overview of a wide range of modern philosophers. It helps that Scruton is knowledgeable, clear thinking and has a clear and confident writing style. This sort of book needs clarity, not tentative views. Scruton has his biases, but they are so well known and therefore apparent and mostly harmless. By presenting this as a history Scruton is able to contrast and compare a range of philosophers and explain the development of (European) philosophy.

In detail, I particularly liked the parts on K
Ryan Linkous
Wow, understanding modern philosophy is tough. Granted this book is a "short" history of modern philosophy. But I still struggled to totally grasp what some of the major figures were trying to say and the significance of their thought. It was comforting whenever Scruton admits that a particular thinker's interpreters don't even know what to do with certain things that person said.

Part of me wants to give this book a worse rating, but I know that's likely not fair because I couldn't understand ev
Kraig Grady
Perhaps one would think that everything was clear and dandy here would be the ideal state to be left when done reading such a book. Instead there is much that requires more investigation on my part and this I think this book provided where to go. While I was aware of many of these philosophers, the book provided many threads between them and how they developed, dis- and reappeared . Despite the author known as being a "conservative", he was less critical of Marx than one might imagine. In fact h ...more
Ross Mckinney
I have mixed feelings. Scruton was trying to provide an introduction to philosophical thought - not philosophers. The biographical information was scant. He's fond of jargon, very judgmental, and I found it hard to weed out what was Scruton's take from what consensus positions might look for. That's not an easy task (to provide the core principles without judging them), but he doesn't do it all that well. The writing is hard to follow. Basically I was disappointed. He was better on the mid-late ...more
Jacob Stubbs
So, I've used this work in two different papers; one over Kant and his attempt at solving the problems of Cartesian Scepticism and Humean Empiricism via the "Transcendental Apperception..." and another over Wittgenstein and the possibilities of "Private Language." The essays over Kant and Wittgenstein were both very informative and really, at least in my opinion, represented the aforementioned philosopher's arguments quite well. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to those who are looking to ...more
Superfluous Man
Mr. Scruton is as idiosyncratic in his way as Bertrand Russell in the latter’s famous History of Western Philosophy–available for “rent” on Amazon(!)–and shares his famous predecessor’s literary verve. A Superfluous Man particularly enjoys the lucidity of Mr. Scruton’s prose–here we find much light and little heat. My full review is available here.

Too dense for a beginner. This was clearly a bad choice for someone who has no previous knowledge of philosophy. A specialised dictionary is absolutely necessary. The language the author uses is not accessible to the majority of the non-initiated audience. Unfortunately, I consider it a waste of time, if, like me, you don't have some average (to high) knowledge of philosophy themes.
Courtney Stackhouse
I want to write (or more currently writing) a story about Nietzche, so I have become much more interested in that historical philosophical community that ultimately rejected him, and he it. So studying these people, and philosophy, being philosophy, led me to other past biting the bullet and getting a fast schooling in the whole western tradition.
This book helped me survive and conquer my Modern Philosophy course. Great book that summarizes the important aspects and philosophies from Descartes to Wittgenstein.

Although, I do not recommend it for people who do not have a background in philosophy. I think if it's your first time to be exposed in such philosophies, you might just as well read Sophie's World.
I don't recommend this as a first read for philosophy. He can be a bit dry and it's a struggle to pay attention even though he is concise and hits all the main points.

I recommend Betrand Russel's "The History of Western Philosophy." His writing is more clear and the book is more thorough. He's a little biased, but it's ok.
A really good summary. A good place to start, if you're interested in Philosophy.
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Roger Vernon Scruton is a self-employed English philosopher and writer, known in the UK as a key figure in the "New Right" in the 1980s and 1990s. He currently lives in rural Wiltshire, but was a professor of philosophy at Boston University from 1992 to 1995, and subsequently a professor at Birkbeck College, London.
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