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50 Philosophy Classics: Thinking, Being, Acting, Seeing: Profound Insights and Powerful Thinking from Fifty Key Books

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  552 ratings  ·  61 reviews
For over 2000 years, philosophy has been our best guide to the experience of being human, and the true nature of reality.

From Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus, Confucius, Cicero and Heraclitus in ancient times to 17th century rationalists Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza, from 20th-century greats Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Baudrillard and Simone de Beauvoir to contemporary thinkers M
Paperback, 325 pages
Published January 4th 2013 by Nicholas Brealey
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Tim Krete
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I throughly enjoyed this book. The attempt to make philosophy accessible is refreshing and has opened up a renewed interest in it for me personally
Magdalena Golden
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid 5* for the content. The book is a wonderful introduction to the major philosophical works and certainly got me more interested in reading more, especially as far as modern philosophers are concerned.

However, I was not convinced by the alphabetic order right from the start and only got progressively more annoyed it as I was reading. I decided to read the chapters in chronological order so first I had to come up with it (I'm attaching a list at the bottom of this review for those of you who
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
*Goodreads First Reads advanced copy*

The author did a wonderful job bringing these 50 philosophies to a level of explanation where everyone can understand them. He did so in a non-judgemental/non-favoritist way, allowing the reader to decide which makes sense to them and which sounds completely foolish. The way the author presented each philosophy, with a section listing other similar philosophies adds to the readers understanding.

I definitely have a desire to check out some of these classics f
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Summarises these 50 vital philosophical texts efficiently and with very accessible language, making complex ideas relatively easy to understand. I found it to be a great introduction to the field, and the succinct biographies a nice touch.
Don Mario
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pensiero
It really keeps its promise of "insights" and "thinking". Very thought provoking, and good motivation for further reading. I think I'll get back to this book every some time. ...more
The  Conch
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas wrote in On the Heavens: “the study of philosophy has as its purpose to know not what people have thought, but rather the truth about the way things are.”

I saw the series of 50 books of author Tom Butler at airport. The attractive point of the 50 series is that it is act like capsule containing 50 globules of knowledge and on swallowing one more access of knowledge will open.

As the name suggests, this book summarizes thoughts of fifty major western and
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A average of 6 pages dedicated to each Philosopher makes for easy reading, especially if you are not familiar with them.
The first theme of "Discover life's meaning" was enough to draw me to this book. I was not disappointed either.

I like the format of 50 different stories, where I can read a chapter, put the book down and return to it some weeks later, and start another story. Liken it to a short story book.
"Perhaps the greatest divide in philosophy is between those who believe that all our information must come from the senses (the empirical, materialist view) and those who believe that truth can be arrived at through abstract reasoning (the rationalists and idealists).
The first camp has a long lineage, from the second-century skeptic Sextus Empiricus to the Englishman Francis Bacon and Scottish Enlightenment thinker David Hume, and to the twentieth-century “logical positivists,” including A.J. A
Ashik Uzzaman
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I finished the audiobook today and overall liked it. I didn't like the fact that the philosophers were presented in the order of their last name. I think it would be very appropriate to order them in terms of their birth or death time to have a sequence how various ideas in philosophy developed over time. Another thing I am not clear is what was the criteria to pick the below 50 philosophers. For example, how come Averroes (Ibn Rush) and his theory of the unit of the intellect did not get a plac ...more
The Book Grocer
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Purchase 50 Philosophy Classics here for just $12!

This is a fantastic book for anyone who is interested in learning some philosophy but is not quite sure where to start. With his concise summaries of both classical and modern philosophical texts, Tom Butler-Bowdon has taken content that is normally quite difficult to wrap your head around and unpacked it in a way that is accessible and easy to follow.

Leea - The Book Grocer
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent selection of philosophers and a neutral presentation of various issues tackled by the selected 50. I really appreciated the modern philosopher's analysis, because the classics are already known to me. Another good point is the inclusion of various philosophers with opposable opinions on various issues. A worthy read for sure, even though often people do not like books that have in the title 100 or 50 of the best minds and so on...

My favourite parts that left a deep impact are as follo
Daline Ly
As a young amateur entering the world of philosophy, I can't stress enough how much this book have helped me wrap my head around, some of the most complex ideas and put it in four pages so eloquently. The world of philosophy can be overwhelming as one is bombarded with many philosophers: where do i even begin? what is my philosophy? who should I know?

Although Bowdon tried to summarize each philosopher's idea in a "nutshell" there are times when i wish it could be further elaborated due to its c
Moira McPartlin
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am starting to take baby steps into the world of philosophy, but a look at the philosophy shelves in my local bookshop bamboozle me. There is so many different strands, and they all seem to disagree with each other. I found this book in my local library and it saved me. The author has chosen 50 wide ranging books of philosophical works and explains in very accessible language what the books and authors are about. Each chapter begins with some quotes, there is an 'In a nutshell' sentences and a ...more
Kanske Svartfors
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've read quite a few books of this kind that try to convey the ideas of philosophers in a nutshell, and I have to say that this book does it perfectly. The author balances the amount of information on any given philosopher very well: not too little, not too much. Also, the author has the ability to explain complex ideas extremely well.

A lot of times books like this are very frustrating, mostly because they try to morally judge the philosophers they are talking about. Also, most of them are just
Seth Lewis
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really good way to pick up on all the philosophy classes your education system failed to provide. A good variety of thought, some wacky ideas, a few that really hit the nail on the head. Obviously depending on the reader. A couple of that was so deep you had to just stare at the page whilst you tried to navigate through space and time to come to some remote understanding of what they were on about. All in all a great exploration of thought throughout the history of humankind, just enough to sc ...more
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book so much. Concise and to the point concepts from some of the brightest minds in the field. The only thing I wished for was diversity- too much western, not enough world philosophy. For example, no Russian or African thought, very little Eastern and Middle Eastern thought. Nonetheless lovely and efficiently structured read.
Joshua Lawson
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is a great overview of some of the major western philosophers from the past 2500 years. I wasn't familiar with all the names but every chapter held my interest. It also struck me for the first time while going through this list how few female philosophers there have been throughout history. ...more
Tiago Faleiro
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, owned
I have read many philosophy books and philosophy introductions, but lately, I've been trying to get more into actual original works. So when I saw this book, which deals with specific influential philosophy books, rather than just explaining ideas, it made me curious.

When I've dived into philosophy introductions before, and when they have a short introduction for each thinker or idea, I've generally skipped the ones I'm already fairly familiar with, with tends to make the portion I actually read
william ellison
Food for thought

The author's take on history of philosophy includes many familiar names ancient and modern and a few one may come across, alluded to or quoted, but may not know much about. I'm not sure just how enlightening Tom Butler Bowden s commentary is, though I applaud his range and clarity; it's just that after a while reading continuously they all merge into a general philosophy which hovers between idealist and materialist, does not require God but promotes similar behavioural habits to
Marielle Anne Ignacio
May 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Great read for someone new to philosophy. I like being able to see each philosopher's ideas in a brief but comprehensive summary. Apart from that, it is also really helpful that a short biography of the philosopher is attached in the last part of every chapter since it helps put into context how that person was able to come up with certain ideas.

I love how philosophy always asks us to remain curious and to always question our most fundamental beliefs. Everything is related, and themes on happin
Sophy H
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a good little "guide to philosophy" if you will, something to dip in and out of depending on your mood and preferences. Butler-Bowden pretty much gives an A-Z of philosophers, and summarizes their main school of thought, their background and the pivotal points of their "teachings". The selection of philosophers is diverse and inclusive of many different schools and directions. Probably not a book to plough through from start to finish; rather peruse at your philosophical leisure then wit ...more
Carol Chen
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Philosophy can be a daunting subject to get into. One misstep, such as directly reading Hegel, can throw you into the abyss of never wanting to touch philosophy ever again.

Therefore, this book is both ambitious and comforting in that it reduces the great works of philosophy into understandable quotes and summaries. However, that reductive quality also means that you don't get the whole picture, and without the whole picture, it is harder to make these philosophical ideas stick in your head.

Zhi Yan Jin
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great read, great introduction to established as well as more recent thinkers and pieces.

Extensive coverage of recent pieces, from Nassim Taleb, to Zizek, to Sam Harris
Concise and impactful summaries
One-word summary and quote on the first page on each work/author are great

A ton of typos, which could totally have been avoidable
Would have liked to have seen more Middle Eastern/Eastern thinkers. Especially since the author and a lot of his favourite works make references to Buddhis
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great synthesis of the most famous philosophers, presenting some of their cardinal ideas. The only aspect that I did not enjoy about this book is the inclusion of too many contemporary personalities, who in my opinion are not nearly as valuable for the field of philosophy as their predecessors, whose contributions shaped society as we know it. Maybe some of those philosophers of our time will become "classic" in the future, but I felt that they have been included in this book to early, their ide ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great surface level look at some of the major philosophical works. Leaves something to be desired in terms of eastern philosophies, and the author definitely injects his own interpretation into the summaries, but it's a great starting place if you want to quickly grab the main points from a bunch of works all at once. As someone looking to get a basic foundation and work on my own personal philosophy, this was a fantastic intro to cherry-pick from. ...more
Joanne Liddement
This is a great book for someone like me who doesn't know a lot about the great philosophers and i have learned a lot. This book covers the great Greek philosopher,Plato to modern thinkers Noam Chomsky. This would make a good book to have in upper schools and colleges for anyone studying philosophy as it is bite size segments and makes you want to go and further research. ...more
Matthew Dolan
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To someone new to the subject, this is an approachable summary of the thinking of some famous philosophers, several of whom, I was unfamiliar with. Excerpts of each book are followed by some helpful paraphrasing and an appreciated short biography of each author. Almost half of the books covered are now on my "to read" list. ...more
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly eurocentric, even in the chapter on Confucius. Still, smoothly written and read, and with a slant toward more contemporary thinkers makes a good supplement to surveys that focus on classical classics.
Coffee & books
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A nice compendium of philosophers. I think some could have been skipped, and introduced others, more well known. But, even so, it was a nice book to read. I've made a list of a few philosophers I want to read after reading this book, so it was helpful.

For me it was a 4.5/5 stars. I wish the philosophers would have been classified chronologically and not by name.
Jason S Liptow
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great beginners book into the top philosophers in history. Easy to read and understand.
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