It is notoriously difficult to introduce philosophy in a single book. The problem is that while the study of philosophy is primarily concerned with abstract arguments, its subjects are closely tied to concrete histories and traditions. Conveying all this in a manageable length book is no easy task.
The basic difficulty is highlighted by considering two of the “golden rules” general introductions to philosophy. philosophical question and the priest. A multi-volume history of the subject by Frederick Copleston. Russell’s short and highly readable book does an excellent job of introducing the reader to the accuracy and clarity of his philosophical arguments, but offers little of the broader historical context. And while Copleston’s history is unparalleled in its historical scope and breadth, it is so dense in detail that it is difficult to know what each philosopher’s contribution was and why we should consider their ideas. It can be difficult for beginners to discern the “point” in terms of whether to take it seriously.
Seen in this context, Peter Krieft’s four-volume set The Children of Socrates: An Introduction to Philosophy by 100 Great Philosophers This book is a truly rare and remarkable combination of breadth and accessibility, and is therefore a welcome addition to the ranks of general introductions to philosophy. The work is historically structured rather than topical, focusing on individual philosophers and their ideas, rather than discussing the pros and cons of a particular philosophical thesis, and taking a “great book” approach to the subject. model.
Each volume covers a major period in the history of philosophy: ancient, medieval, modern, and modern. The exact line between “modern” and “contemporary” varies among scholars, but this division is entirely conventional. Each historical volume is divided into short chapters, providing brief summaries of the historically significant philosopher and the main themes that characterize his writings.
Crieft decided to introduce 100 philosophers, but he could have easily introduced fewer. His choices for his first three volumes are undisputed, but his choices of contemporary philosophers clearly show a Catholic and Continental emphasis.
Tailored for the intellectually inquisitive non-philosopher, Krieft uses concrete illustrations, colorful parables, numbered lists, and bulleted summaries to draw readers deeper into philosophy. Every effort is made to lead to deep understanding and appreciation. Even visual memory. There are many suggestions for further reading and self-study guides. Few authors have done more to sow the seeds of intellectual curiosity in their readers and to develop a sense of basic philosophical literacy than Krieft.
The content of each volume is partly due to the ease with which one can pick up, file through several short but dense chapters, and return to later without losing the central flow of Krieft’s presentation. suitable for absorption. Most of the individual chapters can be read without loss if you first understand Crieft’s comprehensive account of the relevant historical period. He briefly summarizes each philosopher’s main arguments and deals with the exchange of philosophical arguments in a straightforward, conversational style.
A particular strength of Krieft’s historical presentation is its ability to convey the general trajectory of philosophy from antiquity to the present day. So even though this work focuses on the claims of individual philosophers, it never develops into a catalog of ‘who said what’. Each philosopher is shown to have contributed to the progress (and sometimes degeneration) of its subject over time.
Crieft’s Catholic sensibility permeates his understanding of how philosophy has progressed. He argues that Western philosophy culminated in the ‘marriage’ of faith and reason in the Middle Ages and ended with the ‘divorce’ that began in the early modern period. In Krieft’s story, ancient philosophy, culminating in Plato and Aristotle, articulates and clarifies eternal truths about human nature and the basic structure of reality. These insights were ultimately reinforced by the religion revealed by medieval philosophers, integrated into a coherent synthesis of faith and reason, most clearly expressed in the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. The modern era has been characterized by a rejection of this synthesis, with contemporary philosophers promoting the naturalization and secularization of philosophical reason, moving moral and political life away from ultimate ends and toward immediate ends. As it turns, it leads to a “divorce” between faith and reason. Human interests in this world.
Although this set is intended as a general instructional work, its presentation is neither dry nor neutral. In addition, from the sense of “Catholic”, there is also a spiritually “popular” atmosphere. From the outset, Krieft makes it clear that the prevailing impulses of the modern academy—the closed, technocratic, elitist impulses—are attuned to the common sense and generally accepted wisdom of Western civilization. .
Although his discussion of individual thinkers is mostly fair (with a few notable exceptions), Krieft pretends to be fair in no way. He clearly sympathizes with thinkers such as Augustine and Aquinas, and clearly opposes Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, even though he treats them with a certain hostile respect. . And while there are many places where I would have liked to see a different emphasis (I would have elaborated more on Descartes’ interest in mathematical physics or the role of scientific revolutions in general), or I would have liked to see a further line of criticism. It would (and I would) have pushed much harder against Hume’s skepticism, but the overall assertion of his account leaves little room for criticism.
Therefore, as a general introduction, children of socrates One of the best available. At the same time, I feel that the survey of contemporary philosophy omits too many of the central thinkers of contemporary philosophy to call it definitive. Around the world It serves as a true and complete introduction to the current intellectual world.
As noted earlier, the selection of philosophers and ideas featured in the first three volumes is conventional, and this approach gives these volumes a certain aura of neutrality, lending credence to Crieft’s larger narrative. Strengthen. Krieft’s recent past studies omit some of the most important postwar secular philosophers. Krieft instead chose to focus on thinkers who influenced the intellectual life of the Church (De Chardin, Lonergan, von Hildebrand) or whose interests bordered on religious concerns. (Levinas, Marcel, Ricouet). On the one hand, this approach creates room for discussion of many great thinkers who are certainly intellectually equivalent to secular thinkers. On the other hand, we are missing an important intellectual guidepost in navigating today’s highly turbulent environment.
Our society is dominated by institutionalized scientism, identity politics, an obsession with social power, and aggressive forms of increasingly dogmatic secularism that seek to eliminate religion entirely from the public sphere. I’m here. Without discussion of Willard Quine, Michel Foucault, and John Rawls, none of these cultural realities would seem to have an intellectual touchstone in the recent philosophical tradition.
But all in all, the above are probably just minor complaints. Writing philosophy for the masses is a difficult and often thankless task, but few can do it without racking the reader’s brains or oversimplifying it to the point of distorting it.whoever picks it up children of socrates Clieft’s gift for explaining complex things in simple terms will help you get to the heart of the philosophy quickly.
Moreover, the publication of this book by Bishop Baron’s “Words on Fire” Institute heralds a high-profile recognition that philosophical literacy is an essential component of cultural re-evangelization. is a reassuring sign. As Crieft clearly understands, the question of God and religion is for most people the most intuitive gateway to philosophical wonder.
In a culture that is rapidly losing its ability to evoke wonder and a greater sense of meaning, children of socrates This is a timely effort to foster philosophical literacy in a decidedly post-philosophical society.
• Related books by Peter Kreeft: Philosophy: What Every Catholic Should Know (Ignatius Press/Augustin Institute, 2023)
The Children of Socrates: An Introduction to Philosophy by 100 Great Philosophers
By Peter Krieft
Words on Fire, 2023
Special Edition Box Set | 4 Paperbacks, 1072 Pages Total
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