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The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  14,448 ratings  ·  981 reviews
A brilliant and concise account of the lives and ideas of the great philosophers, from Plato to Dewey.

Few write for the non-specialist as well as Will Durant, and this book is a splendid example of his eminently readable scholarship. Durant’s insight and wit never cease to dazzle; The Story of Philosophy is a key book for anyone who wishes to survey the history and develo
Paperback, 704 pages
Published January 1st 1991 by Pocket Books (first published 1926)
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Andrew Hanna i got mine from "sour el azbakya" ,…morei got mine from "sour el azbakya" ,(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers is a 1926 book by Will Durant, in which he profiles several prominent Western philosophers and their ideas, beginning with Socrates and Plato and on through Friedrich Nietzsche.

Durant attempts to show the interconnection of their ideas and how one philosopher's ideas informed the next.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز نخست نوامبر سال 1986میلادی

عنوان: تاریخ فلسفه؛ گردآوری: ویل دورانت؛ مترجم: عب
Riku Sayuj
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a long postponed book as I always thought it would be a long and trudging read, hard to comprehend and harder to remember afterwards. But Durant's treatment of the philosophers and their ideas as organic evolutions of their character and their times was what made the book a joy to read.

The ideas and the long dead philosophers come alive magnificently in these pages and Durant even manages to fill one with the thirst to go ahead and read all these works that are compressed and presented
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is the most sensitive look at philosophy I've ever read. Will Durant is brilliant-- and who wasn't touched by his heartfelt dedication to his wife at the beginning? I think what really set this book apart is Durant's inclusion of just enough biographical information of the philosophers to remind you that they were just people like you and me who happened to think deep, amazing things about life and were deeply affected by their own childhoods and personal lives, i.e. Nietzsche and his less ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is quite a conservative history of philosophy. As such I would probably recommend Russell’s work over this one – but this has the advantage of being shorter, and that’s quite an advantage. There are main chapters on a series of ‘key’ philosophers – Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Kant, Schopenhauer, Spencer, Nietzsche – and some shorter chapters on Bergson, Croce, Russell, Santayana, James and Dewey. Along the way he also mentions Comte, Hegel, Locke, Rousseau and Hume. Of the m ...more
Roy Lotz
The Story tried to salt itself with a seasoning of humor, not only because wisdom is not wise if it scares away merriment, but because a sense of humor, being born of perspective, bears a near kinship to philosophy; each is the soul of the other.

A while ago, as I began to set about learning philosophy, I bought a used copy of this book, but I never got around to reading it. The book sat, unread, on my shelves for a few years, its yellowed pages only growing more yellow, and its already cracked a
Roy Lotz
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
The Story tried to salt itself with a seasoning of humor, not only because wisdom is not wise if it scares away merriment, but because a sense of humor, being born of perspective, bears a near kinship to philosophy; each is the soul of the other.

A few years ago, as I began teaching myself philosophy, I bought a used copy of this book. But I could never seem to get around to it. So its yellowed pages only grew more yellow, and its already cracked and broken spine castigated me from my bookshelf e
Nandakishore Mridula
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the best introduction to Western philosophy that the layman can find. It's a "dummies" book which, however, does not assume that the reader is a dummy.

I would have given it a five, had it included Eastern philosophies too.
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“The Story of Philosophy” by Will Durant is an excellent book which discusses the lives and works of famous philosophers from ancient Greek to recent Continental and American Philosophers. It is well known that Philosophy books, even the expository ones, tend to be obscure and it seems compulsory for every student of Philosophy to inch her way through the difficult, and often obfuscated, text. Many just flee because they come for some consolations and are simply not interested, and prepared, to ...more
Erik Graff
May 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: philosophy
In August of 1982 I was invited down to Tampa-St. Pete with my girlfriend to visit her paternal grandmother. We stayed in a trailer court with a pool during a week of hot and muggy weather. With no car, the only activities available to us were walks to the mall or sitting by the pool. For me, this being my first trip to Florida, the high points were the many varieties of reptiles: turtles in the drainage ditch behind the house and magical little lizards darting about everywhere.

School was to sta
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a total philosophy novice, this book served as a great introduction – lucidly written, a gripping kaleidoscopic look at the lives of some of the great thinkers of our time, and largely accessible apart from the (unavoidable) strays into abstruse philosophy talk. To me, philosophy is most appealing when applied to the political, social or personal realm; it’s the metaphysical part that I struggle to get my head around.

The most interesting sections in this book were those that dealt with the e

Ok, so I can only give this book two stars for the following reasons:

* According to the (admittedly arbitrary) GR star-signification system, two stars means it's "ok"

* This is, of course, a bit of an arbitrary distinction amid arbitrariness (stars? wtf?) since a more definitive statement isn't really being made

* Ironically, I'm going to (have to) back up my seemingly arbitrary statement with some definitive ones! Ambiguity be damned! Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late...

Sumirti Singaravel
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sumirti by: Dad
A best book to begin with to acquaint with philosophy. The author has imbued the whole work with passion, clarity and brevity. The nuances of each philosophical idea is explained without turning pedantic and the striking vein of agility in his style provides a colorful read.

I enjoyed those chapters on Voltaire(my favorite writer and philosopher) and the dazzling accounts on Spinoza. Never before have I understood the philosophical stand of Kant with such a pristine lucidity. However, I am skept
Sidharth Vardhan
on bad side, book is a difficult reading and if you are new to subject might kill entirely your interest. Also it should be called 'The story of western Philosophy' as there is absolutely nothing about Asian philosophy.Also some big names from western philosophy itself are missing. For someone wanting an introduction,'Sophie's world' is incredible reading. it is for more serious students and it wins 4 stars as it is far better far better than you may find in market. you can't help respecting wri ...more
Khyati Gautam
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Subtle and finely written. It leads the way to the spiritual awakening! a must-read for anyone who shares a deep interest in non-fiction and philosophy, in particular.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Delightful, Compelling and involving.

In the adroit hands of Will Durant, that make even the most complicated system of thought accessible to the reader, the story of philosophy is an exciting trek into the realm of thought, from the ancient philosophers' school of Athens to modern philosophy. Durant breathes vivid life into his most influential philosophers (which include Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Kant (with a nod to Hegel), Schopenhauer, Spencer, Nietzsche, Bergson, Croce, Rus
Ashok Krishna
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
‘Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some to be chewed on and digested’ – so said Francis Bacon, a philosopher from 17th century Britain. This book of Will Durant, which carries a chapter about Bacon himself, deserves not just to be chewed and digested, but also to be brought out often as cud and ruminated upon. Such a brilliant work!

Having already had a taste of Marcus Aurelius’ ‘Meditations’, I was wondering from where should I take a deeper plunge into the world of philos
Alex Obrigewitsch
Jan 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
I had a difficult time finishing this book. It suffers from the same problems that every history of philosophy that I have ever read suffers from, that being that it is tainted by the agenda and the opinion of its writer.
This is clearly manifest in the author's choices (no Descartes?), as well as his at times sketchy or selectively purposive interpretations (I'm thinking specifically of Nietzsche, as well as the offhand dismissal of Hegel).
The problem with these histories is that they very often
Andrew Hunt
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosophical neophytes
Recommended to Andrew by: No one
Shelves: philosophy
Will Durant's statement about Schopenhauer's writing style can just as easily be applied to his own:
Here is no Chinese puzzle of Kantian terminology, no Hegelian obfuscation, no Spinozist geometry; everything is clarity and order; and all is admirably centered about the leading conception

of, in Durant's book's case, "the lives and opinions of the greater philosophers." Like Kant with his Prolegomena, Durant selected the title of his work with care, so as to express the purpose and intended util
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, philosophy
One of the best books I have ever read. It's a must read for people who want to start reading philosophy. The language is very good and the writing is passionate. It gives two things to the beginner which in my opinion are very important : the life and background of the philosopher which led him to come up with that particular philosophy and also the limitations and fallacies of every philosophical outlook, which cautions the reader when he decides to start reading any major philosophical book. ...more
Daniel Ionson
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
An excellent book for ushering someone into the world of philosophy. I read this as a young man, and am grateful for its style as well as content.
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I bought it purely by chance. There was a bookstore in baroda which kept my usual staple diet of thrillers etc. so as usual i went to buy my Ludlum and Forsyth. While browsing i saw it and was impressed by names most of which were unknown to me. So i bought it. And i didn't make a mistake. It is a very good book for the uninitiated. written in a clear concise form anybody can appreciate it. Gives a brief background of the philosopher and his times and then dvelves into his philosophy. It left me ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A well written introduction to philosophy,the prose of Durant is delight to read even now.My pick in this introductions is on Nietzsche. His views and observation of Nietzsche is absolutely brilliant!
070819: i just read of the Boy Scouts of America being sued for sexual abuse history, this made me remember durant’s enthusiasm for the catholic church as plato’s republic... and we have much proof of how it has been home to years (decades? centuries?) of same sort of abuse. this is hard to read, hard to agree, that there is ever such incorruptible pedagogical model... not now, not ever...

140914 first review: according to GR this is the 300th philosophy book I have read (read 593 according to t
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Philosophy is to be understood as experience and thought, not as mere reading or passive study
I was embarked on an incredible journey by Will Durant. A reflection on philosopher's life made it a very interesting read. Strongly recommended particularly to those who are disinclined to philosophy because of the misconception that it is boring
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
A few quick comments about this amazing book:

* It is a shame it was written in the 20's and misses many great philosophical movements since that time, as I would love to know Durant's take on trends such as existentialism and feminism.

* Durant seems to have a much greater interest in the early philosophers than in more recent ones. The book became somewhat less engrossing after the French Enlightenment chapter. I don't know if that was my fault or the author's.

* I would recommend this more as a
Arjun Ravichandran
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who reads this will have a life-long love of philosophy. There simply isn't a better and more well-written introduction, even after these many years. Durant's prose is a delight to read. ...more
Sajith Kumar
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
The term ‘philosophy’ has something repulsive in the nature it sounds for most of us mortals. That is because it is most of the time mixed with obscure metaphysics that lives only in the abstract domain. This book was with me unopened for about 25 years. But when the unexpected Covid lockdown dried up my reservoir of books, there was no other option than seeking refuge in the lap of the good old dusty volume sitting in the corner of my bookshelf. It took much time to complete, but now I am not s ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the several efforts I have made to acquaint myself with the leading western philosophers, Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy has left me with the least respect for most of these men. The 4 stars are because I think Durant tells his version well enough and I was certainly engaged. It is not his fault if so many of the great minds were disappointing. My recommendation is that you skip this book and select instead: The Western Intellectual Tradition: From Leonardo to Hegel.

When I told one Goo
Amor Asad
Mar 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book can be the vital entry point to philosophy. I've been reading and re-reading some portions for a couple of years now. Each philosopher has their own chapter, so if you just want to read about a certain one, you can do it.

Will Durant, the writer of the book was himself a historian and philosopher and he offers his criticisms. But it's important to keep in mind that this book was written in 1926, almost a hundred years ago. So the reader must be aware that the philosophical world has ch
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William James Durant was a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for the 11-volume The Story of Civilization, written in collaboration with his wife Ariel and published between 1935 and 1975. He was earlier noted for his book, The Story of Philosophy, written in 1926, which was considered "a groundbreaking work that helped to popularize philosophy."

They were awarde

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