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Usually, philosophy is considered to be a boring subject. While considering philosophy as a subject to read Indian readers should keep in mind that for Indian philosophy you will have to follow a tradition at least 4000-5000 years old. Compared to this western philosophy has a very short history of 1500-2000 years and you will have to read less. If you are starting, Will Durant’s book comes in handy.
It was published around 1936, but still, the language or writing style doesn’t seem to be boring or dull for readers today. The author successfully mixes the history, biography and philosophical thoughts of personalities like Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire, Kant, Russell and James among many others. This is a pretty thick book, although it just scratches the surface of the subject, so it may take a long time to read this book. If you are just starting with philosophy or looking for something which might arouse interest in the subject, this is the book to pick up.
"One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing." Thus began the story of western philosophy. With the declaration from a bald Athenian named Socrates. Circa 410 BC.
And why this story is so essential that a man like Will Durant managed to spend eleven years to research and three years to write this gem of a discourse? Why is even philosophy itself a necessary subject to delve deeper into in these heady times of scientific triumph-marching? Isn't philosophy broadly perceived "as useless as chess, as obscure as ignorance, as stagnant as content"? Why should we buy this 700-pages thick tome and try to read it to get familiar with a subject which basically deals with "shadowy attributes of metaphysical thin air"? Why philosophy when there's science? Why should we pay our slightest attention to Friedrich Nietzsche when there's an Elon Musk tinkering with his futuristic spaceships?
Let me provide a possible answer from the writer himself. Because "science tells us how to heal and how to kill. Whereas philosophy can tell us when to heal and when to kill". And to know how lucidly and how wisely and how splendidly the writer presented his argument in line with his statement, don't make yourself miss this book. Give yourself a chance to rejoice "the pleasure of wisdom" which only philosophy can provide. Especially in these same heady days of scientific and technological chest-thumping.
A great introduction to anybody looking for insight into the study of being human. Read this and find the areas of philosophy that interest you most, find a book specialising in that area and boom! You're a philosopher! Impress people at parties! Get shouted at in pubs! Maybe gain an understanding of how we constantly conspire to think our way to conclusions which have no basis in logic and by doing so, improve your own decision making. Decided to buy this? You are already on your way...
My grandfather has been studying philosophy for over 40 years and recommended this book to me. This book he says is his favourite philosophy book and I can see why. With the intellect and wit of Durant this book is like a tour of all the major philosophers throughout history.
A book to read and to refer to many times again! A good source material for further reading. I find Will Durant's style of writing fascinating. It is as if you are reading a lively story, drafted in a way that is creative, elegant and easy to follow.
my hardback copy was falling to bits, hence the order for the paperback.I have never come across another book about philosophy which explains the concepts so clearly and which also gives a pocket biography of the philosophers.