BERTRAND RUSSELL. A HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY And Its Connection with Political and Social. Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the. History of Western Philosophy. Issam Pythagorean leader philosopher in the Pythagorus society who kept their findings a secret Bertrand Russell ~ RUSSELL HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY and its Connection with .. Its sacred history was Jewish, its theology was Greek, its government and.
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History of Western Philosophy (Routledge Classics series) by Bertrand Russell. Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format. An illustrated brief history of western philosophy / Anthony Kenny.—2nd ed . Fifty-two years ago Bertrand Russell wrote a one-volume History of Western Philo -. A History of Western Philosophy is a book by philosopher Bertrand Russell. A survey of . Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version .
On Bertrand Russell as a Historian of Philosophy.
Anthony Gottlieb. People read it to find out about philosophy.
When the book first appeared, in in the United States and one year later in Britain, its liberal and hopeful values were a tonic for the times. Like Karl Popper in his The Open Society and Its Enemies and Friedrich von Hayek in his The Road to Serfdom , Russell attacked authoritarian politics, both of the left and of the right, and was cautiously optimistic that civilisation could solve its problems, provided it adopted a calmly rational approach to doing so.
In fact, although he takes some steps to place the great thinkers in their historical contexts—especially in its first two parts, on the ancient and medieval periods—and also provides thumbnail sketches of their lives and personalities, Russell does not try to explain away their ideas as the products of their times.
On the whole he engages with all philosophers as if they were his contemporaries, paying relatively little attention to the intellectual landscapes in which they moved, even if they in fact lived 2, years ago. That is one main reason why the book continues to engage its readers today, though it is also why some scholars have reservations about it.
It was in the mids, when he was in his early sixties, that Russell conceived the project of producing a history of philosophy. At the time he was writing a great deal of journalism, in addition to books and essays, in order to support his family, and had enjoyed considerable success with Freedom and Organisation: He proposed a similar book on philosophy to his American publisher, Warder Norton, and a contract for it was signed in As it turned out, he wrote a different book Power: A New Social Analysis for Norton instead, and the project was temporarily shelved.
It revived in , two years after Russell had moved to the United States to lecture in Chicago and Los Angeles, when he suddenly found himself unemployed because the City College of New York revoked its offer of an appointment. Not only was Russell deprived of a job, he also found that American newspapers and magazines would not publish his articles. He therefore jumped at an offer from Albert Barnes, a pharmaceutical tycoon and art-collector, to join his Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.
About two-thirds of the manuscript consisted of the lectures given at the Barnes Foundation between January and December , and the rest was completed—at great speed—by September And why no Kierkegaard?
First let us consider the alleged mistakes. Given its large scope, there were remarkably few errors of straightforward historical fact in the first edition of the book, and there are fewer now, because Russell made several corrections to subsequent editions. One reviewer pointed out that although Russell writes that most philosophers of the Hellenistic period believed in astrology, his own treatment reveals that they did not.
This minor slip remains in the text.
A more substantial historical error is that Russell exaggerates the importance of Pythagoras in mathematics and philosophy, attributing to Pythagoras himself various views and achievements that in fact belong to later Pythagoreans. But Russell can in no way be blamed for this, since he was correctly summarising the best scholarship that was available to him at the time of writing.
It was only in the s that Pythagorean scholars became persuaded that they had got Pythagoras seriously wrong. Russell was among other things the Oscar Wilde of philosophy: But Russell can in no way be blamed for this, since he was correctly summarising the best scholarship that was available to him at the time of writing. It was only in the s that Pythagorean scholars became persuaded that they had got Pythagoras seriously wrong.
Like a lively conversationalist, Russell was wont to sacrifice strict accuracy in order to produce a memorable epithet. In fact, what Kant said is that you should not borrow money if you intend not to repay it, because if everybody did this, then people would stop lending. I do not think it is merely humourless to point out that these are two different things.
But, like Russell, Father Copleston believed that it is impossible to write a history of philosophy without taking a point of view.
Indeed, the aim of his history, he wrote in the preface to his first volume, was to provide a textbook for use in Catholic seminaries, and it clearly bears the marks of having been composed for such a purpose. It has three chapters on the revival of Catholic scholasticism in the Renaissance, which few other historians would bother with, and a more sympathetic treatment of medieval theology than most non-Catholics will be able to stomach.
Copleston no more tries to hide his clerical collar than Russell tries to hide the fact that he is a liberal rationalist with a penchant for plain speaking. In general, reviewers who liked the tenor of the book found it to be accurate, while those who were annoyed by its colourful and combative style did not. When I was writing my own history of philosophy, The Dream of Reason, I was puzzled that many friends were more eager to know which philosophers I intended to cover, and how much space would be allotted to each, than in what I proposed to say about them.
This sort of keen concern with who is in and who is out seems to me to be more appropriate for a historian of, say, the Middlesex County Cricket Club than a historian of philosophy. There are endless ways in which the story of philosophy may be told. Perspectives change, new scholarship discovers new connections between old thinkers, the sages of one period are sometimes utterly forgotten in the next.
The Times Literary Supplement was baffled to see a chapter on the poet Byron; The New Yorker was particularly pleased to find chapters, including that one, about the influence of non-philosophers on philosophy.
Isaiah Berlin said there was too little on the 18th-century French enlightenment. The present and the recent past are the easiest times for a historian of philosophy to get badly wrong in the eyes of his successors. The ninth edition of G.
This, thought Lewes, was the philosophy of the future. Russell does not even mention Comte, and not many people would fault him for that though one reviewer did. From the viewpoint of the early 21st century, it now seems odd of Russell not to have mentioned Wittgenstein or Heidegger.