A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

Okay so I’ve read a fair amount of philosophy but I’ve never felt like I completely understood it.  And I’d forget it pretty quickly so that’s probably proof I didn’t really grasp the concepts.

This book presents the philosophers and the highlights of their ideas so clearly and in such a well thought-out manner that I’m tickled to death to read it.  It’s probably a bit under my level of understanding on some of them,  but a review never hurt.


A Little History of Philosophy
by Nigel Warburton
2011 /  288 pages
read by Kris Dyer  7h 35m
rating:  9

Chronological order is the obvious structure for a book like this – and that’s the way almost all authors of philosophy books do their little overviews.   I was familiar with most of the philosophers and their ideas but there were a few whose ideas remained obscure – and probably still do.

The book goes on from Spinoza through Wittgenstein and  Sartre all the way to the ideas of artificial intelligence as well as the really contemporary Peter Singer.  There’s not a whole lot of material on any of them but there aren’t any  difficult original passages to read as there were in the book by Stewart Goetz  and Charles Taliaferro,  A Brief History of the Soul which I read back in September of 2015. I suppose if one or another of the philosophers presented catches your eye you can search out other material.

Warburton writes well,  the ideas are chosen and presented carefully,  and he uses a lot of examples.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one –  if you’re interested in western philosophy from Socrates to today but don’t have much of a background in it I really recommend this.

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4 Responses to A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    Books like this are useful, I think. I’ve only ever done 6 months philosophy, and that was philosophy of education so while it was interesting and it taught me the discipline (the way of thinking for that subject) it didn’t cover any of the major philosophers who have guided western thought. I like Sam Atkinsons’ The Philosophy Book (https://anzlitlovers.com/2014/09/28/the-philosophy-book-edited-by-sam-atkinson/) LOL not just because it’s got pictures, but because it does what The Little Book does, by the sound of it. The Spouse if studying philosophy at university, so I quite often refer to it so that I know what he’s talking about!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well this is a good one to start with and like you said in your review of the Atkinson book, it’s a great place to start a reading list. This is the second philosophy book I read this month – the other was The Path by Michael Puett ( https://beckylindroos.wordpress.com/042016-2/the-path-what-chinese-philosophers-can-teach-us-about-the-good-life/ ) – that’s Chinese philosophers and very different in some respects to most of Western philosophy. There is one connection which seems important – that is how to live a good life (not just what is knowledge and dualities, etc.)


      • Lisa Hill says:

        Yes, I read those posts about the Chinese, they have a very different view of things, don’t they?
        I must admit that I am more interested in contemporary philosophers and I like the ones who write in the same vein as Bertrand Russell i.e. for everyday mortals like me. I like Peter Singer for his global outlook and attention to international issues like inequality between nations, and I like Damon Young and Alain De Boton because they explore everyday life, everything from reading to gardening:)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never heard of Young but I’ve read some de Boton. I just get on a little kick every couple months or so and have to read something in these veins. 🙂


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