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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  12,623 ratings  ·  819 reviews
A brilliant and concise account of the lives and ideas of the great philosophers—Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Kant, Schopenhauer, Spencer, Nietzsche, Bergson, Croce, Russell, Santayana, James, and Dewey—The Story of Philosophy is one of the great books of our time. Few write for the non-specialist as well as Will Durant, and this book is a splendid example ...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published January 1st 1991 by Pocket Books (first published 1926)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  12,623 ratings  ·  819 reviews


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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
...more
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 1986 میلادی
عنوان: تاریخ فلسفه؛ گردآوری: ویل دورانت؛ مترجم:
...more
Jessica
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
Trevor
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 ...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
...more
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
...more
Arghya Dutta
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
Matt

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...

*
...more
Nandakishore Varma
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.
Vishal
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
...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
...more
Nawal
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,
...more
Sidharth Vardhan
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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
...more
Lalit Kishore
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.
Kshitij
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
Dhandayutha
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!
Michael
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
...more
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
...more
Sundus
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
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
...more
Rob
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
...more
Pavan Dharanipragada
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Everyone is a philosopher in some capacity. We all have some belief as how the world works, how we should live and what we should live for. Some of us acquire it from parents or elders or other role-models or even movies. Some take it from religion. It's easy really, because it is passive mostly. But for others things start to lose sense. All the certainties they had in their youth start crumbling away. Or maybe they never were truly comfortable with the world they were living in. It is these ...more
AfroLit
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I listened, I learned, I conquered.
Paulius
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jon Stout
Jan 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: biographers and historians
Recommended to Jon by: Bob Nichols
Shelves: philosophy
When Will Durant gives The Story of Philosophy, he really does tell a story. His discussion of a dozen or so great philosophers is biographical and historical more than philosophical. He gives an impressionistic account of what the philosophers were like, rather than taking seriously what they said. In a way, this approach is valuable, because philosophy can be dry, and it helps to have emotional hooks to make us care what the philosopher says. It’s also valuable, for reasons not philosophical, ...more
John Martindale
Will Durant did an amazing job of putting forth these many philosopher's ideas in an easy to follow way. It primarily gives a brief overview of the the philosophers lives and in that context he shares their opinions. I learned a lot about Plato, Francis Bacon and Schopenhauer that I never heard before. I wish he had wrote a whole book on Kant, Kants philosophy interest me most, but it takes a philosopher to be able to make sense out of Kants extremely difficult writing style, so its nice for ...more
Irena
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-audio-books
The book was first published in 1924. The author tells the history of philosophy through the life and work of philosophers he considers great. The story of each philosopher's life and the summary of his philosophical views and contributions is followed by critique section where the author discusses the legacy of the philosopher's work. Being written in 1924, the chapter on Nietzsche misses any reference to the usage of his teachings made by Nazism. At the same time, probably because of the later ...more
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
...more
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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
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“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.” 649 likes
“How much more suffering is caused by the thought of death than by death itself.” 109 likes
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