Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Story of Philosophy

A book written with Jeremy Stangroom, called The Story of Philosophy, is now out there in the world.  You can read a review by a fundamentally decent person here.  Here’s a bit from the cover blurb:

“Philosophy can’t be pinned down. There are histories which attempt to stitch the whole convoluted thing up into a single, long coherent sequence of events. Other books are organized thematically. Here we have metaphysics. This is ethics. Here’s what we know about the nature of knowledge. Similar books plough through the big questions. What exists? What can we know? How should we live? What does it all mean? Some of these books are excellent, but they’re all attempts to civilize something wild, something that mostly mistrusts authority, something that’s really only human, something messy that moves around in different directions at once.  Maybe the best way to pass along a feel for this kind of thing is to do what people have always done when they’ve got a great deal of complicated information to convey, and that’s tell a story.”

We really did try to do something other than write another history of philosophy, another collection of -isms, another list of theses and objections.  If a philosopher did or said something interesting that makes for a good story, we tended to put it in.  Reading philosophy can leave you with the thought that philosophers aren’t really people.  Maybe that’s too strong — maybe we just forget their humanity from time to time, and think of them as The Greats, rather people with first names.  This book tries to understand philosophy by getting to know philosophers a little.  It was fun to research, and I hope it’s a good read, too.


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Filed under history, philosophy, talks/events