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The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  3,727 ratings  ·  283 reviews

The Philosophy Book explains more than one hundred of the greatest ideas in philosophy through clear, succinct text and easy-to-follow graphics.

Using straightforward graphics and artworks, as well as thoroughly accessible text that elucidates more than two thousand years of philosophical thought, The Philosophy Book makes abstract concepts concrete.

From moral ethics to th

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 17th 2011 by DK Publishing (first published October 4th 2010)
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Casey Nicholson The book is divided up into 100 or more philosophers with each of them receiving a 1-to-6 page entry. Thoreau has a one page entry that focuses on civ…moreThe book is divided up into 100 or more philosophers with each of them receiving a 1-to-6 page entry. Thoreau has a one page entry that focuses on civil disobedience.(less)

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Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A nice illustrated introduction to the idea of philosophy for students/young people/the still-to be-initiated into the rigors of the philosophical tradition.

It gives a comprehensive overview of global philosophical thought over the ages. Although pretty wide in scope, this book is basic in depth. It gives only a few paragraphs on each thinker.

Admittedly it does give a very nice introduction into each 'group' of thinkers, or rather, each period in history, from a global perspective. A very nice
Greg Watson
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a good philosophy reference. I'm unsure of when I started, but I read nearly all of it, minus some of the directory and glossary.

The book is divided into short summaries of philosophers. Each summary contains a bio and discussion of the philosopher's best-known works. There are useful illustrations and timelines.
It contains a good overview of foundational ideas such as Plato's forms. There are also helpful discussions of some of the more slippery modern thinkers.

It also contains a helpf
I give this book 4.5 stars which rounds up to 5.

This book gives a great overview of philosophy. I was a philosophy major in college and this book covers many of the ideas I learned at school. However, my only grievance is that it leaves some ideas out like Kantian ethics. But other than that I highly recommend this to people who like philosophy or want to learn more about it.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Compared to other philosophy books I've read, I think I like this one the best now. Not only does it feature way more philosophers, but it's diverse too. Always a plus in my book if they feature more than one female philosopher and this has several.

There are a lot of philosophers I like featured in the book, maybe all of them. They don't have Joseph Campbell or Marquis de Sade, but doesn't bother me because this has a ton of new philosophers I found that I want to read now.

Finally found a not on
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this is the best semi-comprehensive philosophy book I've ever read. It includes all the prerequisites you need to know and nothing more. The explanations are so amazingly cogent, I could cry. I would buy this for every 13 year old and force them to read it A Clockwork Orange style.
The downside is that it's not as detailed as I would like (not in the sense that the author leaves things out as he explains certain concepts, he just doesn't touch on every work of all of the philosophers, he us
Braeden Young
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent collection of ideas from history's greatest thinkers.

This book give a simple comprehensive overview on the last 3000 years in philosophy. The authors take the reader through a chronological look at each philosopher using simple diagrams and illustrations and provides a broad spectrum of each individuals major contributions. The intuitive layout drives the reader from one page to the next, and makes for an experience that is rather hard to put down.

An absolute must read for anyone
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Man, if I had known this book existed, I would have purchased it 6 years ago! Then again, it probably wasn't published back then. Anyway....for those who would like to dip their little toes in the world of philosophy and get a broad overview (that's still chockfull of goodies), this is the book. I especially appreciated the color throughout. The books I read in college took themselves so seriously with pages of black-on-white tiny print. Bring on the color-coded sections! ...more
Erin Boyington
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays, history, science
A brief, readable introduction to the thinkers and ideas that have shaped the world.

The profiles are organized by date, bookended by brief intros to each historical era; each person gets 1-3 pages describing major ideas and an abbreviated biography. There are also sidebars with quotations, charts outlining a thinker's logic, "see also" page references to related thinkers in the book, and boxes that put each person into his or her contextual background (telling us who influenced whom).

This book p
Antariksa Akhmadi
Oct 25, 2014 rated it liked it
This book has done a good job explaining some of the most notable philosophers and their influential ideas. This is especially true in the entries of modern and contemporary period continental philosophers. Figures such as Heidegger and Derrida whose books are condemned as difficult to follow are explained here clearly without any shred of doubt left. The flowcharts, images and pictures are perhaps there to attract those who have no appetite with philosophy at all, but they are somewhat helpful ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
About as reactionary as you'd expect. Avoid. ...more
Alex Riedel
First of all, I am entirely sorry for how many books I have added in the last week and a half. I wanted to read this book before I dove into anything else so that I can get a somewhat informed idea of the "major ideas" in the history of philosophy just because a lot books of philosophy are objections against another work of philosophy, or there will end up being many references to other philosophers, schools of philosophy, or eras of philosophy. That, and I also already had this on my shelves in ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
The amount of information is rather scarce, but well packaged.

A few things I didn't understand:

1) Why not group the philosophers into schools/movements (more visibly)? It would make the information much easier to grasp, especially since this book is supposed to be an introduction to philosophy. 'Maps' with groups of opposing philosophies briefly explained for every time period would be great as quick summaries (eg stoicism/cynicism/epicureanism/skepticism or rationalism/empiricism). I feel like
Samuel Saul Richardson
This book was a great overview of many different philosophers and areas of philosophy. Throughout the chapters I was really able to identify certain areas of philosophy that I like as well as some philosophers that I plan on reading more about over time.

For anybody interested in philosophy, this book is a great introduction.

Fred Hughes
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This book briefly looks at the key ideas of Philosophers over the past 3 to 5 thousand years.

Done in chronological order by philosopher it goes back and forth between various philosophers.

It is a great snap shot of them and details significant texts that they have written so you can explore them further.

Recommended introduction to this subject
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
A good book that covers philosophy throughout the history in a very nice and neat way by using illustrations, however expected it to focus on philosophy more than the history of philosophy
Burhan Munawar
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is a good book for someone that's only beginning to learn more about philosophy, however it is in no way only intended for those who are just beginners of this subject.
It is set in a very chronological order, starting from 500BC and ending in 1950s. It talks about some of the prominent philosophers of the times and describes their work, with each chapter consisting of a summary/conceptual map and a concise biography.
It tends to get a little dry at times but gets balanced out by some interes
Usama Albastaki
I cannot think of a better introduction and summary of philosophy than this book. Well written, easy to consume for the beginners. The writers have good knowledge of the subjects and delivered it in easy explanation. Smart use of diagrams and figures to explain the subject. I really liked it and looking forward to read more in the rest of series and philosophy.
Anders Brabaek
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, reference
Excellent reference book with concise introductions to many of the major philosophers. It can be read from start to finish or used as a reference book. It does not contain exhaustive information for the philosopher's or their philosophy, but the information which is there, is crisp and clear. ...more
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you want to have a clue on what is actual history of philosophy, read this with no doubts.
YaRa AshRaf
Jun 23, 2020 added it
Shelves: bought
The idea of the book is giving an overview of philosophy and philosophers at different periods of time. It’s a good reference for different topics, great source for general knowledge and a good start for anyone who is interested in philosophy as it demonstrates the theories in a simple-easy-understandable way..
Jun 22, 2020 added it
A really easy, light and digestible introduction to philosophy and philosophical principals and ideas.
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a very cool book. I skipped some chapters that were of less personal relevance to me and this is -in my opinion- not a book to br read from cover to cover. But it very concisely introduces some philosophers and philosophical concepts and puts them in context in a very rich illustrated way. Very much recommended!
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I somehow skipped philosophy in college and have been very slowly trying to establish a beachhead, sampling Seneca, Nietzsche, and Russell. This book gives a nice overview of the the larger names and movements. It’s organized chronological by major historical period (Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, etc). Individual philosophers receive one, two, four or six pages. There are nice diagrams and illustrations, and the text is clear and concise. I learned much from this book and it whet my appetite t ...more
Jim French
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent read for those, including me, that have not studied philosophy. Set out in chronological order, it explains the origins of philosophy and carries through to modern day examination of the finer topics of human knowledge and behaviour.
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
I absolutely loved this book. I've had it for years now dipping in and out of it, reading about the philosophers that interested me at the time. I even used this book at uni, as the book provides such great summaries of the philosopher's main arguments, which was really useful to get the gist of what they were saying, before reading the main text.

Now, I'm out of uni so I decided to read the book cover to cover, which was so much fun as the individual summaries are brief and come with really coo
Joshua Anderson
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone wanting to begin learning about philosophers, their ideas, and knowing a little about the historical backdrop of their times, this book is worth considering. It wasn’t an easy read for me since many of these ideas, that are simply explained, are still new to me and required some reflection before moving on. I didn’t reflect on every idea, otherwise I would still be reading it, but on those I could grasp with my limited philosophical background. Still, I really appreciated historical c ...more
Giorgos Tselios
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Philosophy Book of the 'Big Ideas Simply Explained' series is exactly what the title alludes to, and it doesn't disappoint in the least. It's a comprehensive, easy-to-read overview of philosophical thought from its origins in the ancient world to contemporary times. ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, reference
This philosophy book is the best introduction I've read on the topic. Complete with images and in very simple language the book is a historical chronicle discussing the main ideas of key philosophers from 600 BCE to the present time... ...more
Simon Farrell
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The perfect coffee table book giving a good overview of the history of philosophy and a great resource to dip into if you want an overview into a particular philosopher.
Randell Green
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend. Summaries of the ideas of the world’s top thinkers. Extremely excited to read more in this series. 📚
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me, pondering ... 1 19 Nov 11, 2012 12:26AM  

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I was born and brought up in Norfolk in the UK, and studied art, art history and anthropology in the north-east of England, before taking a PhD in philosophy. I've been Reader in Writing and Creativity at De Montfort University, Visiting Professor of Humanities at the Parami Institute in Yangon, and visiting Associate Professor in the College of Literature and Journalism at Sichuan University.

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