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A Short History of Western Thought

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  35 reviews
For the reader who has lain awake fretting over his tenuous grasp of the Aristotelian syllogism, or the ontological argument for the existence of God, or the nature of Kant's categorical imperative; or who simply struggles to tell his Frege from his Feuerbach, his Husserl from his Heidegger, his Saussure from his Sartre... - help is finally at hand. That help comes in the ...more
ebook, 123 pages
Published May 10th 2014 by Atlantic Books (UK) (first published September 15th 2011)
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I really enjoyed reading this book about Western Thought and philosophy ☺️

Maybe not the best book for someone who is new to this topic but definitely perfect for someone who needs a refresher or wants to extend their learning.
After borrowing and reborrowing the book twice I finally finished it! Yay!

It was a whirlwind though. I quite enjoyed it as a kind of survey of major philosophical schools from the Pre-Socrates philosophers to modern 20th cen ones. Yet, while the pace was logical up to early Christian philosophers and the impact of Muslim philosophical thought, the book turned into a jumble of names and dates as soon as we hit what we can call modern philosophy. I felt completely lost at times, and I can't rememb
Timothy Urban
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
It felt like the closer this short history got to present day, the more complex the concepts, the less effort the author was prepared to invest in making this book work for the layman. From at least the 1800's onward it felt like merely a list of dates, names and quotes. Since this book is pitched as an introduction for the uninitiated, I felt it failed. I'm still interested and will seek out another, better introduction. ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Even a brief introduction western philosophy seems to be dense and tough to follow. Its a bit like taking the transiberian from Moscow to Vladivostok non stop. In order to appreciate everything on the way, the thinkers and the ideas. Its vital to stop off at each of the stations, look around, discuss, reflect. But its great to get an idea of what lies ahead. This is a journey that needs to be taken as slowly as possible.
Nov 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
This book wasn't bad by any means, it's just too short to cover this much stuff. I guess that explains the title. I also didn't like how he feels he has to defend philosophy from the "death of philosophy" proclaimed by Stephen Hawking. Who gives a fuck? And the modern-day applications. I think people who try to make philosophy relevant are grabbing at straws. It's always been on the fringes of real-world matters. People respected it to a larger degree in the past, but I don't think, except for c ...more
Second read. Well, I'm actually listening to it this time, mainly in order to ensure my pronunciation of names and idea is correct. It also works well alongside the @Building a Christian Worldview' book that I'm in just now.

Despite an atheistic bias that was often ignorant and patronising this was informative and thought-provoking.

Liked it.
Jeffy Joseph
Although I have read some philosophical works, I was ignorant of the general timeline of the different philosophical ideas. Recently I did borrow a few books on the topic from the library. While most of them followed a similar approach by devoting an exclusive chapter to each seminal philosopher, I felt that they lacked the comparison among the different philosophers. Trombley's book focuses more on the juxtaposition of the different philosophical ideas rather than a detailed exposition of indiv ...more
Logan O.
Jan 27, 2021 rated it did not like it
A great collection of brief summaries of the conclusions of the thoughts of the great philosophers, virtually devoid of their context, argumentation, and ultimate importance. You'll learn that Marx's great advancement over the socialists that came before him was to give a coherent philosophical expression to socialism. You will emphatically not learn what this coherent philosophy was. The same goes for virtually all other thinkers. Thales was a Greek man who believed water to be the irreducible ...more
Probably far too short to give more than a vague sense of what the many philosophers believed. Many extremely complicated or abstruse ideas are covered in 2 or 3 sentences, which is not enough to explain to the layman. Someone with some knowledge of philosophy might understand, but such a person would be unlikely to want to read such a high level review.

Within the constraints of the chosen scope and size of the book, I think the author did a good job. But perhaps the concept is a bad one

I read
Muath Aziz
Trying too hard to be comprehensive. I wouldn't recommend this book as an introduction to Philosophy, if that's what you're reading the book for. A Little History of Philosophy (Nigel Warburton) introduces you to Philosophy in a much smoother way.

However, it's a good refreshment to the absurdity of Philosophy.
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd like to teach a class called "Thinking." This book would do as well as any other I can think of (although yes, I am aware of the hegemony of "western thinking" in such cases). Students read it, we come to class and they have to use it to make points about the world at large. ...more
Jeroen van Deelen
Sep 20, 2020 rated it liked it
A very informative read. Something which it ought to be, since it is a book concerned with providing an overview of the history of western philosophy. And though I give Trombley all the credit and respect for endeavouring to write a book with a scope of this magnitude, I really felt that there was too much to be discussed for the limited pages available. Cramming all - if not most - of western thought, from the Presocratics to Chomsky, into a 250 page books seems like an almost impossible task. ...more
Loved it.
Ayan Dutta
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1 star deducted for cramping toomuch towards the end . otherwise a good outline of western thought
Any Length
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
"What is a way to deal with the irrational view that climate change is not occurring?" Maybe a kind of philosophical thought, but what place if any has this statement in this book. None at all.
To claim that it is "an irrational view" not to believe in climate change is a statement out of the scope of this book and out of the authors field of knowledge. The author might well be good at philosophy, but should stick to what he knows about. And not claim that those who do not believe in climate chan
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is an enjoyable journey through the canons of Western thought. Trombley combines a readable literary style with a very disciplined handling of such a large subject matter. The pace is quick and mostly well sequenced.

There are four main sections with the final one on post-Enlightenment thought being the largest. Often this work avoids linguistic trappings by explaining key phrases/terms for the reader, however, there are passages (e.g., European Continental Idealism) that I found difficult
Caleb Liu
Sep 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This book is a very short and efficient summary of the main currents of philosophical thought running from the Pre-Socratic philosophers to modern analytic and continental philosophy and that is no mean feat. Where it does succeed rather well is in showing the broad connections between the philosophers and how philosophical thought has developed as a dialogue with or rejection of previous ideas. However, as admirable as this brevity is, and as well as Trombley attempts to capture the gist of maj ...more
Eric Elston
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the perfect book for someone like me who wants to nudge their way into understanding the world, and how it came to be. Each section and mention of a concept or person is concise, as the book aims it to be. If you want to drill down into any of the concepts further, there are plenty of resources that this points to.

I couldn't agree more with its closing statement; "Today university education is becoming more and more specialized, and directed at specific vocational skills, rather than a g
Kevin Varney
I quite enjoyed it. It did a pretty good job of explaining who was who and what their big ideas were. Many of the names were familiar to me from Monty Python sketches and elsewhere, but I had no idea what it was they actually contributed to the world of ideas. It's not like science, in which Newton is well known for his laws of motion, Einstein for Relativity, Darwin for evolution, etc. I did start to get a bit lost, especially in part 4, The Landscape of Modernity. ...more
Hamid Harasani
Trombley's endeavour was always a challenging one: to confine the history of western thought in 250 pages.
This book leaves its reader with an overview of the ideas of history's most influential philosophers. For a non-specialist like myself this is a welcome shortcut. It presents a birds-eye view of Western philosophy and provides one with the opportunity to determine which thinkers and thoughts he or she wishes to explore in more detail.
Oct 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only criticism of Trombley is that there is not enough detail given to defining some of the more complex ideas listed. Otherwise a throughly exacting history of the links between the various schools and schisms, we'll researched and very readable.
Rasmus Puggaard
Short, clear, accessible introduction to the history of philosophy and science in the Western hemisphere. Recommended to anyone with a passing interest in the subject - otherwise you may be looking for something a bit less shallow
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This is a great summary of the history of Western philosophy. It's straight forward, easy to read and suitable for anyone who is looking for a comprehensive overview of Western philosophy without being bogged down by elaborate details. ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy reading. Very informative.
Vikas Datta
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal... breathtaking in its scope, but still managing to to offer a succinct but incisive account of the main strands of western thought - and all that influenced it.
Arshad Balwa
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Enchanting read, barring, its unsatisfactory treatment of Greco-Roman Philosophy
John Skelly
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it
An interesting first foray into the world of philosophy.
Sarah loves books 😻😻😻
I loved the beginning about ancient history and philosophy (no surprise there, me as an old philhellene), the chapter on the influence of the Christian church, Islamic impact in Europe, the inquisitions and the reformation was also very interesting. However the modern era had me lost. Yes, I had heard of most of the great thinkers but do I really know what Kant, Schopenhauer, Kirkegaard, Satre (even though I have a feeling I'd like Satre - and not just because I love Simone de Beauvoir) and Popp ...more
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
It is what its name suggests, a quick, uneven, descriptive list of Western Thought, although the author brings in a few non-western "thinkers". It would have been a lot better if the author had spared the reader his own political views. ...more
Neville Buch
Very good introductory text on Western philosophies
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