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

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  418 ratings  ·  46 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
Paperback, 325 pages
Published January 4th 2013 by Nicholas Brealey
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 ...more
Kanske Ervast 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
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 ...more
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
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 ...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.
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.
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.
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.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(Audiobook version) Wonderful survey of where philosophy stands. Very accessible and informative. Highly recommended.
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.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
A good tour of philosophy
Nick Richards
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent breakdown of the most prevalent philosophical ideas in history. Would not recommend reading end to end though.
Sergey Kochergan
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've learned a lot from this book
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.
Martin Bryant
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A really accessible look at great works of philosophy, so you can gain inspiration from their ideas without having the brave the often dense and inaccessible language of the original texts.
Casey Jewell
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exhausting, in a good way! As usual, Tom Butler-Bowden does an excellent job at summarising the most complex ideas of great thinkers in just a few short pages.
J Grimsey
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Love lists of books to read - I don't think I'll have time for them all
William Schram
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Contains key points of 50 works of philosophy, organized by the author's last name.
Vikas Datta
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Useful distillation..
Joel Gray
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Happiness is not a pleasure but a by-product of a meaningful life, and meaning tends to come from striving and self-discipline (Aristotle).

Effort, even more than actual success, is an essential ingredient of happiness.

A focus on self is a cause for unhappiness.

Situational factors are often better predictors of behaviour than personal factors.

Life is about how we can make ourselves better, and part of this project is reducing the size of our ego so that we can see others and the world clearly.

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