Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “History of Western Philosophy” as Want to Read:
History of Western Philosophy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

History of Western Philosophy

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  24,701 Ratings  ·  757 Reviews
Since its first publication in 1945 Lord Russell's A History of Western Philosophy has been universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject—unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace and wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the ...more
Paperback, 916 pages
Published December 1st 1961 by Allen & Unwin (first published 1945)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about History of Western Philosophy, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Wouter Van www.philosophizethis.org is a very accessible way to get an overview of history of philosophy and spark interest in what you want to study in more…morewww.philosophizethis.org is a very accessible way to get an overview of history of philosophy and spark interest in what you want to study in more detail. (less)
F. Dum I certainly hope there are better English introductions. It IS a classic, and Russell has an an often enlightening way of deconstructing philosophers…moreI certainly hope there are better English introductions. It IS a classic, and Russell has an an often enlightening way of deconstructing philosophers he doesn't like, and his engaged writing style is certainly entertaining, and it gives a good overview on the social and political context... But it's not very balanced and quite unpartial. So no, I don't think this is the first introduction to philosophy to read... But as a second, yes indeed.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Manny
There's a throwaway remark in this book which has haunted me ever since I read it some time in the mid-70s. Russell is talking about Socrates, and he wonders if Socrates actually existed. Maybe Plato made him up.

"I don't think many people would have been able to make up Socrates," muses Russell. "But Plato could have done it."

It's hard not to continue this line of reasoning. If Socrates turns out to be fictional, who else is? And which fictional characters of today will later be accepted as hist
...more
Riku Sayuj

A Critical (& Patronizing) Survey of Western Philosophy

Russell is consistently opinionated throughout his presentation and it might confuse some of the readers that he is so casual in writing off some of the major philosophers and their key ideas. This is because the book is not a mere history of philosophy, a mere account of ideas, by any stretch. Instead it is a critical survey, a long catalogue of what Russell agrees and disagrees with among all the major doctrines. The format followed is
...more
Mark Lawrence
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I stole this off my father's shelves many years ago. The indications on the inside cover was that he read it in Finland in 1959 - I think he once missed a train there and the next one wasn't for a week.

It's true that this is in many respects a heavy, dry, and testing read. On the other hand it's full of interesting anecdotes about the philosophers themselves, from the earliest of ancient Greeks to Russell's contemporaries in the 20th century. And Russell, a mathematician of the highest order as
...more
Trevor
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This is a remarkable book. Over the years I have found various reasons to look into it now and again, but have never read the whole thing. Mostly I’ve read the bits about particular philosophers: Heraclitus, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Marx for example. I hadn’t realised that ‘dipping’ in this way was missing much of the point of the book.

This is not just a history of Western Philosophy, but also a bit of a ‘how do all of the main schools of Western Philosophy fit into their culture and times'.
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
A History of Western Philosophy And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, Bertrand Russell
A History of Western Philosophy is a 1945 book by philosopher Bertrand Russell. A survey of Western philosophy from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the early 20th century, it was criticised for Russell's over-generalization and omissions, particularly from the post-Cartesian period, but nevertheless became a popular and commercial success, and ha
...more
Roy Lotz
I enjoyed this a bit too much. The History of Western Philosophy is exactly my kind of book, and so this review will be biased.

This, however, illustrates my first point. One’s opinion of this work will largely depend on one’s opinion of Russell. This is because he frequently injects his views, ideas, and opinions into the text. I happen to love the guy; I’m sure reactions will differ.

In this history, Russell does not entirely succeed in his stated goal. What he was trying to do was to firmly sit
...more
Foad
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب رو با ترجمه ی نجف دریابندری خوندم. ترجمه خیلی خوب بود، هر چند گاهی جملات قابل فهم نبود، که نمیدونم مشکل از قصور فهم من بود یا از ترجمه.

تاریخ انتقادی فلسفه
اسم درست این کتاب، "تاریخ انتقادی فلسفه" است، نه "تاریخ فلسفه". هر فصل از کتاب، تقسیم شده به دو قسمت: قسمت کوتاه (و گاه نارسای) نخست، به معرفی اجمالی بخشی (و نه تمام) از فلسفه ی فیلسوف خاص میپردازه. قسمت بلند و مفصل دوم، به انتقاد از فلسفه ش. هر چند خیلی این انتقادها دقیق و لذت بخش بودن، (مخصوصاً با نثرِ گاه طنز آمیز کتاب که نمی دونم کار ر
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Overview

Bertrand Russell's History consists of 76 Chapters, almost all under 20 pages.

Each Chapter contains a summary of one major philosopher's key arguments interlaced with criticism that reflects Russell's own priorities and perspectives.

In a sense, it is one philosopher judging the work of another.

We therefore need to exercise caution in relying on Russell's methodology, perspectives and conclusions.

Apart from this reservation, I actually really enjoy his style. He is very clear and seems t
...more
Bram
Dec 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not only is this an excellent primer on all the major Western philosophers and an impressive synthesis of the evolution of philosophic thought over a 2500-year span, it's also one of the wittier books I've ever read. I'd be quite interested to hear Bertrand Russell's thoughts on the past 65 years; I did stumble upon his remarkable final statement, written two days before his death at age 97, which shows him putting his formidable powers of rationality to work in succinctly and accurately assessi ...more
Dylan Popowicz
At first it seems impressive that a single individual could accumulate such a vast understanding of Werstern Philosophy from Thales to Dewey. At first it seems that the work is well researched, objective, and only humorously judgemental at times. . . And for the first five-hundred pages these feelings seem to preside. Yet, when Russell reaches what, to me, is the important period of Philosophy, namely the modern period from the Rennaisance till the present, I find that Russell's analysis of each ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Bertrand Russel rocks the entire history of Western Philosophy like a boss! Long but, oh so worth it!
Paul
Russell's History of Philosophy is a good little introduction to a massive field. His biases will be a problem for those who are aligned with the ones he critiques. This is because he frequently lets his biases cloud his thinking. For example, he writes,

"So little is known of him [Leucippus] that Epicurus (a later follower of Democritus) was thought to have denied his existence all together, and some moderns have revived this theory. There are, however, a number of allusions to him in Aristotle,
...more
Stian
A very subjective history of philosophy. Russell makes it very clear what he thinks of every philosopher mentioned and it's not very hard to see who he likes and who he dislikes.

The first part of the book on Ancient Philosophy I thought was excellent and very fascinating. The variety of thought and ideas here was really incredible and made for very easy and interesting reading throughout. In fact, once I had finished Russell's examination of Plato I decided to read three of Plato's dialogues, a
...more
Mr.
Oct 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is of course an analytic philosopher's history of western philosophy, which means that Russell presupposes that there is a single rational goal which all philosophers are seeking to reach through collective progress. Unfortunately, philosophy is not mathematics, nor is it science. Russell's account is sometimes troubling, sometimes funny, as he methodically points out every logical error in the Ancient Greeks, the rationalists, the empiricists, etc. The notion of progress as it pertains to ...more
Ahmad Abdul Rahim
Lewat buku ‘History of Western Philosophy’ ini, Bertrand Russel berjaya ‘mencari gaduh’ dengan semua pengikut-pengikut mana-mana mazhab falsafah. Aku merujuk di sini kepada gaya Russell mendekati subjek-subjek kajian beliau; Russell akan bermula dengan bercerita tentang biografi ringkas faylasuf tersebut, diikuti dengan latar zaman, karya-karya definitif faylasuf tersebut, garis-garis besar pemikiran beliau, diikuti dengan kritikan Russell terhadap faylasuf tersebut. Kaedah diskursif sebegini be ...more
Adam
Dec 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ray Monk
"A History of Western Philosophy remains unchallenged as the perfect introduction to its subject. Russell...writes with the kind of verve, freshness and personal engagement that lesser spirits would never have permitted themselves. This boldness, together with the astonishing breadth of his general historical knowledge, allows him to put philosophers into their social and cultural context... The result is exactly the kind of philosophy that most people would like to read, but which only
...more
Aleksandar Janjic
Пуни наслов ове књиге гласи "Историја западне филозофије и њена повезаност са политичким и друштвеним условима од најранијег доба до данас", што већ само по себи прилично расвјетљава шта је то Расел овде покушао да уради. Мало детаљније може да се пронађе у предговору:

"У већини историја филозофије, сваки се филозоф појављује као у вакууму; његово се мишљење приказује издвојено сем, у најбољем случају, у односу на филозофе пре њега. Ја сам управо због тога покушао да, колико ми то истина допушта,
...more
Amir The Fat Bookworm
There are three points I want to make:
1.The author has a very fantastic style of writing. It uses the classic way of writing non-fiction. When you read it, you won't feel you are reading a textbook, because you can know what the author is thinking and that he is sharing his thoughts with you. not just mentioning them when he is talking to himself.
2. The author uses a critical and analytical method of representing the ideas he is going to make. I believe it is a great demonstration of the early
...more
Jared Colley
This book is invaluable to me. I first read it as a high schooler & young college student, and I have never stopped reading it since. This has served as a resource/reference for countless various reasons. Mr. Russell offers a pretty comprehensive account of Western, intellectual history here, but he also provides erudite commentary on almost all major philosophers & philosophies of the Western tradition. The only reason I give this 4 and not 5 stars is Mr. Russell's glaring ommission of ...more
Nahed.E
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: للدراسة
تاريخ الفلسفة الغربية لبرتراند راسل ، بأجزائه الثلاثة ،
الفلسفة اليونانية ،
وفلسفة العصور الوسطي،
والفلسفة الحديثة
من أهم الكتب لدارسي الفلسفة ، ويمكن القول إنه لا غني عنها ، فانت هنا تعرف تاريخ الفسلفة بقلم فيلسوف
والذي يشرح لك الفلسفة فيلسوف
والذي يؤرخ وينقد ويحاورك فيلسوف
تخيل حين تفهم أفكار الفلاسفة بفكر فيلسوف
أكثر من رائع ، خاصة في ظل اسلوب رسل السهل والمتواضع أيضاً
فنراه يعترف في الكتاب أن نظرية الزمان والمكان لكانط صعبة الفهم
وأنه نفسه عاني ليفهمها
جميل
Dr. Elkhatib
Enjoyed the comprehensive eye-opening knowledge. Highly recommended.
Tariq Fadel
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a very well written book on the history of philosophy. It presented most of the major western philosophers in chronological order starting from the ancient greek. It focused most on political theory and the influence of politics and society on the philosophers view as well as the social impact of the philosophers on their communities. I especially enjoyed the part on the ancient greeks and found it very informative and to a certain sense romantic. It also covered part of the Islamic ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I much preferred "The Dream of Reason" as a philosophical overview to this one. To be honest they are both subjective and fairly biased views of historical philosophy but I just prefer Gotliebs bias more! I don't know what that says about me, perhaps I should be looking for something more objective but I don't know if I want objective anyway. Russell focuses a bit too much on the matching up of philosophers to their works and not as much as he says he was going to on how that relates to society. ...more
Animesh
May 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the mother of all books!

This tome was apparently dictated by Bertrand Russell to his secretary during his lecture trips in America as he traveled by train across the country in the 1920s.

It is witty, provocative, profound, and informative all at the same time.

If you want to know what genius is, then read this book. It is the encapsulation of the entire philosophical thoughts of the western world, written (well, dictated) in the most engaging way possible. Need I say more?

Read it.

[Alas,
...more
Spyros Passas
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is THE absolute reference book for Western Philosophy. Starting from the Pro-Socratic times and ending at the dawn of the 20th century, Russel goes through all the major philosophical movements of the West. The thought of most major philosophers is being beautifully laid down and analysed by one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. Despite being very dense, the book is wonderfully readable, so if you have any interest in the matter this is a work that should be in your library (and in ...more
Carlo
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is no doubt that Russell ignores some important elements in the history of western thought in his History of Western Philosophy. I am not as much annoyed as some who consider this book worthless for that matter. I may be biased toward him and the importance he gives to the scientific method in considering the various schools of philosophy. He obviously aims at a philosophy based on the scientific knowledge acquired at his time. However, I see it somewhat unfair to totally ignore some figur ...more
Sophia_yang
This book is really a fantasitic work! I really like the cover. A broad way to the western philosophy! I bought this book last week, and fell in love with it suddenly. I have read it many times already. The book is divided by three parts, ancient philosophy, catholic philosophy, and modern philosophy. I love 'the schoolmen' best. By the way, the table of contents is very nice, too.
Many histories of philosophy exist, and it has not been my purpose merely to add one to their number. My purpose is
...more
Roderick Vincent
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great introduction to all of the heavy weight philosophers. The last chapter summed up well why Russell had the habit of crushing each of the philosophers in turn throughout the book. Certainly some spankings were in order. Russell had a great mind, and this book had an interesting historical accompaniment along with each summary. (Spoiler) He was not a fan of Nietzsche.
Paul  Perry
Nov 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone iterested in ideas and great writing
In this wonderfully wide-ranging, intelligent and humane book Russell not only introduces the most important philosophers and philosophies from the ancient Greeks onward (in the Western tradition, that is, he alludes occasionally to oriental traditions where they influence western philosophy, but on the whole they are outside his remit), he gives the historical and social context from which the philosophies rose. I found this to be particularly valuable; my modern mind often has difficulty how s ...more
Niklas
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
As many others surely have pointed out there are two main problems I can see with this book.

1) Bertrand Russell is an analytical philosopher and thus automatically looks upon all continental philosophy with the smugness and superiority so typical of the British.

2) This was written in the middle of World War II and thus every philosopher is viewed with a contemporary lens of suspicion. Often Russell will simply sort out philosophers as being either proto-Fascists, proto-Communists or Liberals lik
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Separate 3 18 Apr 21, 2017 12:39PM  
Classics and the ...: Philosophy 10 216 Apr 20, 2017 01:44PM  
Philosophy Books ...: * Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy Forum 9 54 Jan 02, 2016 03:37PM  
  • THE OXFORD COMPANION TO PHILOSOPHY.
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  • The Open Society and Its Enemies - Volume One: The Spell of Plato
  • Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers
  • A History of Philosophy, Vol. 8: Modern Philosophy, Empiricism, Idealism, and Pragmatism in Britain and America
  • Essays and Aphorisms
  • Language, Truth, and Logic
  • Critique of Pure Reason
  • On Certainty
  • Confessions of a Philosopher: A Personal Journey Through Western Philosophy from Plato to Popper
  • The Philosophers Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods
  • Naming and Necessity
  • Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity
  • The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers
  • Reasons and Persons
  • A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
  • The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism
  • A Short History Of Ethics: A History Of Moral Philosophy From The Homeric Age To The Twentieth Century
17854
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, was a Welsh philosopher, historian, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, pacifist, and prominent rationalist. Although he was usually regarded as English, as he spent the majority of his life in England, he was born in Wales, where he also died.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950 "in recognition of his var
...more
More about Bertrand Russell...

Nonfiction Deals

  • Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Sometimes You Win--Sometimes You Learn: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Long Tail: Why the Future Is Selling Less of More
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Funny In Farsi: A Memoir Of Growing Up Iranian In America
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Effortless Healing: 9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Fix Itself
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France
    $8.49 $1.99
  • Bad Boy
    $7.74 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
    $4.99 $1.99
  • All Over But the Shoutin'
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change
    $13.99 $1.99
  • WEIRD: Because Normal Isn't Working
    $6.99 $2.99
  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness
    $5.99 $0.99
“A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.” 671 likes
“To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.” 446 likes
More quotes…