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Book Review - A Little History of Philosophy


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When I was doing my PhD, reading a nonfiction book for fun was out of the question. I had to read so many academic articles that I had no brain power left to read at all, let alone contemplate complex ideas. Not that writing fiction and learning about writing doesn't require brain power, but it needs a lot less brain power than academic papers. So now, I get to read nonfiction for fun.

This book is a brief history of philosophy. It contains 40 concise chapters, each focused on a philosopher or sometimes two or three philosophers whose work is closely related. The chapters, at least in the Hebrew translation, are about ten pages long. I liked that because it means that you can read a chapter in a reasonable amount of time and then think about it while doing dishes or something.

What I particularly liked about it is how comprehensive it is. It is not exhaustive, by any means, but it does give you an overview of the best known Western philosophers and a good idea of what their "bid idea" was. It talks about philosophical ideas in a clear and accessible language, and the Hebrew translation is excellent (which doesn't happen often). I would say it can even be read by children who are interested in these kinds of ideas.

The only criticism I would offer on this book is that there's almost no mention of Asian philosophy. Now, I understand that it's a history book and that the Asian philosophy didn't enter the Western history until recently, but I do think that there would have been a place for, at the very least, one chapter.

Overall, though, it's a fantastic book. I highly recommend it if you're interested in philosophy or just for general knowledge.

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