The story of philosophy is an epic tale: an exploration of the ideas, views and teachings of some of the most creative minds known to humanity. But since the long-popular classic, Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy, first published in 1945, there has been no comprehensive and entertaining, single-volume history of this great intellectual journey.
With his characteristic clarity and elegance A. C. Grayling takes the reader from the world-views and moralities before the age of the Buddha, Confucius, and Socrates, through Christianity's dominance of the European mind, to the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and on to Mill, Nietzsche, Sartre, and philosophy today. And, since the story of philosophy is incomplete without mention of the great philosophical traditions of India, China and the Persian-Arabic world, he gives a comparative survey of them too.
Accessible for students and eye-opening for philosophy readers, he covers epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, logic, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of language, political philosophy and the history of debates in these areas of enquiry, through the ideas of the celebrated philosophers as well as less well-known influential thinkers. He also asks what we have learnt from this body of thought, and what progress is still to be made.
The first authoritative and accessible one-volume history of philosophy for decades, remarkable for its range and accessibility, this is a landmark work.
Updating Bertrand Russell for the 21st century . . . a cerebrally enjoyable survey, written with great clarity and touches of wit . . . The non-western section throws up some fascinating revelations (Sunday Times)
Grayling has written a masterful and often entertaining chronicle of the epic intellectual journey we humans have taken, in different periods, countries and cultures, to understand ourselves, our world, and how we ought to live. An extraordinary accomplishment that transcends the usual bounds of academic specialization (Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University)
He's more historically-minded than Russell, less dogmatic than Dawkins and less in thrall to the charms of his own fluency than Hitchens (Prospect on The Challenge of Things)
Undeniably thought-provoking (The Sunday Times on The God Argument)
Grayling is particularly good at illuminating the knottiness of moral discourse (Sunday Times on The Challenge of Things)
Lucid, informative and admirably accessible (New Statesman on The God Argument)
Grayling writes with clarity, elegance and the occasional aphoristic twist (Daily Telegraph on The Challenge of Things)
Five minutes with any passage will have you contemplating all day (Independent on The Good Book)
I find the clarity of his thinking so refreshing (Pam Ferris on The Meaning of Things)
If there is any such person in Britain as The Thinking Man, it is A. C. Grayling (The Times)