A Little History of Philosophy
Philosophy begins with questions about the nature of reality and how we should live. These were the concerns of Socrates, who spent his days in the ancient Athenian marketplace asking awkward questions, disconcerting the people he met by showing them how little they genuinely understood. This engaging book introduces the great thinkers in Western philosophy and explores their most compelling ideas about the world and how best to live in it. In forty brief chapters, Nigel Warburton takes us on a chronological tour of the major ideas in the history of philosophy. He provides interesting and often quirky stories of the lives and deaths of thought-provoking philosophers from Socrates, who chose to die by hemlock poisoning rather than live on without the freedom to think for himself, to Peter Singer, who asks the disquieting philosophical and ethical questions that haunt our own times. Warburton not only makes philosophy accessible, he offers inspiration to think, argue, reason, and question in the tradition of Socrates. "A Little History of Philosophy" presents the grand sweep of humanity's search for philosophical understanding and invites all to join in the discussion.
'Survey the entire history of (western) philosophy through short intellectual biographies of 40 philosophers from Socrates to Peter Singer, in as broadly approachable a style as EH Gombrich's A Little History of the World. A tall order; that Warburton (of the excellent podcast Philosophy Bites) has succeeded so well is a triumph.' (Steven Poole, The Guardian)
'Warburton packs a heck of a lot in to what is something of a Goldilocks volume: neither too much nor too little, the exegesis neither too thin nor too thick and lumpy, his Little History can be consumed as a nourishing treat in its own right or provide the perfect fuel to kick-start anyone's journey into philosophy.' (Julian Baggini, The Observer)
'The magic of Nigel Warburton's book is its disarming accessibility. It closely follows the template of A Little History Of The World - Ernst Gombrich's 1935 introductory text for children, recently translated by Yale - and Warburton is the ideal shout for a writer to match Gombrich's terse charm and easy authority. Anyone who's enjoyed Warburton's brilliant podcast series, 'Philosophy Bites', where he and fellow demystifier David Edmonds half-nelson academics into spelling out their theories, will know he has a special gift for defusing complexity.' (Chris Brown, Time Out)
'This book is a little classic.' (Merryn Williams, Oxford Times)
Nigel Warburton is senior lecturer in philosophy, The Open University. He is the author of several popular introductions to philosophy and is the interviewer on the Philosophy Bites podcast. He lives in Oxford.