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How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  505 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Julian Baggini's How the World Thinks is there to fill the Sapiens-size hole in your life' Observer's guide to Autumn in culture In this groundbreaking global overview of philosophy, Julian Baggini travels the world to provide a wide-ranging map of human thought. One of the great unexplained wonders of human history is that written philosophy flowered entirely separately ...more
Published October 3rd 2019 by Granta Books (first published October 2018)
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Mateus Muslims and Jains are freuqently mentioned throughout the book, often to note how different their schools of thought are from the Vedic schools.…moreMuslims and Jains are freuqently mentioned throughout the book, often to note how different their schools of thought are from the Vedic schools. Christianity, as I understood, is blended in with 'Western Thought', and not outright stated!

Either way, the author does mention that this is (and could not be) in any way a comprehensive, complete study ;)(less)
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Indrani Ganguly
It would have been more appropriate to name this book 'How Some People Think' given it's largely the viewpoint of a middle-class Anglo-Saxon male. Women are dismissed with a summary comment ''women's voices are almost entirely absent from the world's classical traditions'. This is true but doesn't warrant leaving out the contributions of Indian women like Gargi, Maitreyi and Lopamudra who were well known for their learned and spirited debates with men and Greek women like Hypatia. It would have ...more
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading this book aloud in the car, discovering gems together over Kopi and Roti Prata, letting a stranger skim through it just before the start of a lecture, discussing it with my boss after a workshop, trying to explain its gist to a curious 7-year-old. These were my favourite memories of reading this one.

And as I travelled for work and play, through car and taxi rides, brought it from café to café, drunk cups of Caramel Latte/Kopi-C Peng/Genmaicha while I nibbled on doughnuts, woke up early
Mike Steinharter
I so wanted to learn from this book; Understanding philosophies from around the world sounded quite interesting and it grabbed my attention at the bookstore and no doubt the authors experience is extensive, but the writing just didnt invite me in to learn and understand. To be fair, i enjoyed a number of parts of the books, such as the chapter on Japanese relational self and the anecdotes that illustrate it. But he jumps around way too much for me and I found myself skimming more often than I ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since I began teaching philosophy in the 1990's I've tried to expand the canon and to include non-Western elements in my teaching. These movements have gained momentum more broadly in the academy in recent years, and so I've been trying to expand my understanding so I can be a better philosopher and a better teacher. I hadn't yet seen a good introductory text one might use for global philosophy.

And this book still isn't that, but it quite good. This is not a book one could assign in an
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book on, well, how people think around the world. At least assuming that the countries' philosophies reflect onto the people (and vice versa). Not the most rigorous approach, and the author's western bias can be noticed at several places, even though he specifically critiques western philosophy of doing exactly that.

That being said, the book did give me an idea of which values the various Indian, Muslim, Chinese, Japanese, (native) Australian and some African countries' philosophies. One thing
Jelger Beltman
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Capturing the wisdom of this book in a review is next to impossible. The mind-expanding collections of philosophies really paint a beautiful picture of the world. The differences between individual freedom and social harmony explain the shortcomings of the western ways of thinking. The idea of total responsibility of the self that is becoming more common around the world is broken down. For it is ignorant to assume that the self is something indepentent. This book is one of the best summaries of ...more
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history, 2019
It is a strange irony that at the beginning of this book Baggini points out that there are many cultures which have no need for secular philosophy. Many languages didn't organically develop a word for it until it was imported from the West and their home-grown scholars follow "philosophical" traditions that don't meet the purity test of philosophy being too close to theology. This raises the interesting question of whether modern secular philosophy actually has a history at all in any part of ...more
Steve Murphy
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A comparison of western and eastern philosophy highlighting strengths and weaknesses of respective beliefs. I found it a great look at multiple philosophies for a first time reader of any philosophy book. Don't expect an ultimate conclusion on what to believe but convincing case for the idea that our western philosophy isn't the most superior
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Review This book is excellent at getting you to question the way in which you think and how this underpins your belief system in regards to life. Western thinking with its colonial racism often views its scientific enquiry for truth and progress as superior to eastern respect for knowledge and tradition. Where in the east focus is on the holistic view of reality, the west are argument based, logical and scientific. Western scientific enquiry admonishes knowledge in search for new understanding ...more
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I admit that for me Philosophy is identical with "Western Philosophy". All the rest, so my prejudice was, is basically religious thought with some pseudo-philosophical amendments. But I was not very happy with this. So I read this admirable book.
I said admirable because I admire Baggini for his braveness in tackling such a task. I do not think he has succeeded. At least not if his task was really to show that there is genuine philosophy outside the West. (I am not sure that this was his task.
Daniel Araújo
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a philosophical journey!

We've all heard, read and learned about what makes the Western Philosophy Canon. What Julian Baggini achieves here is a journey through Chinese, Indian, African (even Samoan) philosophy perspective on many topics like "emptiness", "morality" and so on.

It's incredibly well written and easy to digest, but you will surely have to stop and do a lot of side reading given the amazing interest of so many of the perspectives discussed.

Will definitely re-read at some point
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting comparative study of world philosophy, I found the portions about Japanese and Chinese culture and modes of thought especially fascinating. Will probably be something I need to reread in order to get the most out of it. Must say I gave a wee whoop at the mention of Rawls and his veil of ignorance- my favourite lesson of University philosophy study. :)
Max Havenga
A good book which logically presents itself. Personally, I think the book gives a lot of general information of philosophy around the world. Keep in mind that it is written from a western perspective, but looking through that can help to truly understand the philosophy of the culture.
Aicha El Alaoui
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Esme Leaf
Save ya self the time and just read the conclusion.
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy by Julian Baggini (Academic Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy) is a fascinating book that explores a myriad of philosophical thoughts from across the globe. Offering deep-insights into how other regions operate and how an expanding of philosophical boundaries across cultural divides can initiate a greater understanding of ourselves. It is quite the intellectual treat!

Philosophy can be a daunting subject to explore, particularly
Suraj Kumar
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
In How The World Thinks the author Julian Baggini takes the reader along to dive into the cultures of different places and provide a glimpse of how people across the globe live their lives, what ideas and values do they believe in and how these ideas inform their existence. Dismissing the claim of the universal nature of the western philosophy, the author sets out on a journey to explore the ideas and beliefs that fall under the rubric of philosophy at a global level.
... expand[ing] our
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
According to How the World Thinks by Baggini (2018), philosophy and religion are not always neatly separable. In the Middle Ages, Islamic philosophy, falsafa, and religious philosophy, kalām, battled for supremacy. Kalām succeeded in claiming religious priority over reasoning. However, where the Qurān is not used for political gain, it is perceived metaphorically. Interestingly, orthodox Christianity took a more close-minded approach, and the Hellenic scientific outlook was disallowed due to ...more
Jeanne Phi
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading it. Knowing nothing in particular about philosophy - apart of my 1 year of high school education in the subject and reading Sophies world when I was 12 - it was a nice introduction to it. But it is still popular science and nothing more than an entry point to the subject.

Also, the book is clearly written by a European. What the author makes out to be the defining characteristic of Western philosophy: the aspiration to universality and objectivity, is also what the author
Siddharth Gupta
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listening to an Audiobook on a serious topic is a tough endeavour simply because we are generally not trained to train our auditory senses to function as stand alone inputs of absolute information processing. I say this to emphasise how this book stands out. Dispensing information about abstract issues is in itself difficult, and a challenging narrative makes the situation worse. But somehow Baggini manages to surmount these hurdles and reaches out to the reader(listener) in a beautiful manner.
Olga Kovalenko
What I liked most in this book on philosophy is a comprehensive and engaging description of Eastern traditions, like Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Shinto. I dont have any structured knowledge of any of them, and this book is a great starting point for further explorations. There is also a description of Indian and Islamic traditions, but they didnt strike me as very detailed or engaging. Maybe thats because Im into Asian cultures though. ☺
There were great examples of Western approaches to
Jenny Gaitskell
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julian Baggini begins this fascinating book with a suggestion: to understand how we (in Western Europe) think, we should consider the rest of the world's assumptions. Great, I thought, I'd love to understand what the heck we're thinking in the UK right now.

Philosophy sometimes bamboozles me, but Julian Baggini's writing lit my brain like a string of fairy lights. He tours the big ideas from around the world, hopping continent to continent, concept to deftly juxtaposed concept. The tour includes
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, philosophy
He elaborates seemingly-indifferent concepts of different parts of the world together under certain blanket words (as in index), and it works.

I found some chapters boring, as they seem to be a mere array of thoughts by using the corresponding words in foreign languages. Sometimes I could hardly follow what he says because they were too foreign to me, both the styles and the concepts. However, I was fascinated most of the time and especially by his explanations of Japanese philosophy. Although
This book is both huge, detailed and complex, as well as being a brief taster and an overview. Baggini begins by confessing his general ignorance of philosophy outside of the Western tradition (which he notes its adherents call "philosophy" not "Western philosophy") and setting out his ostensibly humble goal of going to learn about other schools from the experts. He explains that he can only give his impressions and one should go to other books to learn more.

Within that limited framework, I
Doug Newdick
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-of-ideas
Julian Baggini's book is intellectually generous and open-hearted. It starts from the rejection of the parochialism that is at the heart of much of the teaching of Western philosophy (and specifically in the "analytic" tradition), and continues to a fair minded dialogue with many of the world's philosophical traditions. It concentrates on Chinese, Indian and Islamic philosophy, with significant digressions into Japanese and various indigenous traditions (though I can't help but feel that the ...more
Mary Quigley
Feb 28, 2020 rated it liked it
The scope of this book was much narrower than I expected. I think from reading the blurb and critics' reviews I assumed I would be introduced to all sorts of interesting concepts from many cultures around the world. Instead the book limited itself very much to a few examples, mainly Chinese, Indian Vedic and some Japanese philosophies. It briefly touched on Muslim traditions, even briefer mentions of Maori and a few others. "Africa" was mostly lumped together like some homogeneous culture.

Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting thematic (rather than regional) overview of global philosophy, taking a comparative approach to find similarities between disparate traditions. Very much aimed at Western audiences, and relatively top level - and so an accessible, easy, occasionally thought-provoking read as a result.

Given the author is aware of and open about the limitations of such an approach, if there's an unintentional flaw it's that it starts to peter out towards the end, with some ideas seeming a bit
Michael Layden
My training and my interests have largely been in the physical sciences. Philosophy is one of the glaring holes in my education. I have absorbed some ideas over the years and have a thin vineer of knowledge of western philosophy.
This book has helped me think more widely both on the philosophies of other cultures but I think more importantly more about how culture is linked to philosophy. We really are products of our cultural environment and the ideas which steer cultures are often not thought
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think he misunderstands the concept of the ineffable in Eastern philosophy. "having seen that the world is not the same as our linguistic conception of it, we can see it how it really is (...) I remain unconvinced". He names Kant as an example that one cannot escape the human cognitive apparatus. Which is true, however pratyaksa is something else. As an example the Advaita tradition states that because of our identification with our mind, thoughts, and concepts we cannot see through maya, ...more
Putu Sita Witari
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
An educative and full of philosophies derive from both western and eastern culture crowd in this book. We could see how the author, from a western culture background, allows us to appreciate the differences and introduce the new perceptions on values that each is elaborated in a chapter.

This book offers so many thoughts to ponder about human values and the essentials of human life according to a variety of worldviews. Even though the eastern part only use several big countries which famous
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Julian Baggini is a British philosopher and the author of several books about philosophy written for a general audience. He is the author of The Pig that Wants to be Eaten and 99 other thought experiments (2005) and is co-founder and editor of The Philosophers' Magazine. He was awarded his Ph.D. in 1996 from University College London for a thesis on the philosophy of personal identity. In addition ...more

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