Jun 10, 2017

Western Philosophy

A New History

By Anthony Kenny
Published by Oxford University Press
Philosophy

Main Attractions

1.  Overview of Western Philosophy
2.  Ancient Philosophy  
3.  Medieval Philosophy 
4.  Rise of Modern Philosophy 
5.  Philosophy in the Modern World
6.  Introduces Key Thinkers & Works
7.  Explains Context & Influence
8.  Summarizes Key Thought & Works
9.  Accessible & Readable
10.  Updated, Comprehensive Introduction 



Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Roasted Chicken Dinner
It begins with the roots of the Ancient Greek thinkers and moves through a variety of thinkers right up until works published before 1975.  It’s the author’s personal choice to include philosophers up to this point.  

In the introduction, Kenny states that writing this book from one author’s point of view, can give a more generalized ‘aerial view’ of this far reaching history where specialists may explore some aspects in slightly greater detail.  Kenny acknowledges that he lacks the specialized knowledge in some areas of this book.  It does show a bit in his writing that some areas are less familiar to him.  He still gives an insightful and informative introduction to these less familiar topics.  In other areas, the writing is more fluid and is much faster to read.  

I do recommend Kenny’s book over Bertrand Russel’s classic because Kenny’s is well researched, filled with interesting tidbits, is up to date and is fairly biased free.   

Why Visit Here

Again, in Kenny’s introduction, he states this book is geared for 2nd or 3rd level undergraduates of philosophy.  His writing style makes it a great serious introduction for anyone interested in Western philosophy.  
I recommend some familiarity of philosophy before reading this book.  It could also serve as a great reference for book for those who are new to philosophy.  The chronology of philosophers is a goldmine for the curious.   Students of History, Political Science or related fields could also find this book a great resource for learning who’s who in Western Philosophy.  I’m reading this just as a lay person with an interest in expanding my knowledge of Western Philosophy and the historical context of the thinkers.  

It summarizes 1386 years worth of great thinkers into a mere 996 pages while remaining accessible and very readable.  It’s more dense than a fiction book or DK’s 100 Greatest Philosophers.  But is far less dense than the actual philosopher’s book!

After reading it and highlighting key phrases, I feel confident in which philosophers books I want to pursue and why.  Kenny covers 100s of philosophers and their major works.  He highlights some minor works also.  So he gives a very broad scope over a vast amount of knowledge.  It’s impossible to read all of these books or even to skim them in one lifetime, outside of being a professional endeavour.  So, I’m glad to invest my time and money for this broad overview.

Destination Summary

He traces the history of philosophy in chronological order.  He goes through major and some minor philosophers.  He clearly summarizes their key points, books and who influenced them.  He includes some historical context that directly relates to the philosopher and their published book.  He also includes nuances of what sets related philosophers apart from each other or what they agreed on and expanded upon.

Travel Advisory

Depending how you build your reading lists, it may add significantly to it or reduce it!  It may also reveal some new & interesting areas you’ve never considered!

Packing List

✓ Buy a copy and a highlighter!
✓ A library card for scoping out new thinkers!
✓ A credit card for buying more books!
✓ Beverage of your choice for a job well done.

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy By Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan & Charles A. Moore (1957) - It’s a great introduction to Eastern Philosophy
✓ A Sourcebook in Chinese Philosophy By Wing-Tsit Chan (1969) - It’s the other great introduction to Eastern Philosophy
✓ History of Western Philosophy By Bertrand Russell (1945) - It’s the classic book Kenny’s is based on.

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