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Encyclopedia > History of Western Philosophy (Russell)

A History of Western Philosophy And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1945) by the philosopher Bertrand Russell is a guide to Western philosophy from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the early 20th century. The "History of Western Philosophy" contains both the ideologies of other philosophers as well as Russell's own interpretation of those ideas. Year 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar). ... Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970), was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, and pacifist. ... Western philosophy is a modern claim that there is a line of related philosophical thinking, beginning in ancient Greece (Greek philosophy) and the ancient Near East (the Abrahamic religions), that continues to this day. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the...



The book was written during the Second World War, having its origins in a series of lectures on the history of philosophy that Russell gave at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia during 1941 and 1942. [1] Much of the historical research was done by Russell's third wife Patricia. In 1943, Russell received an advance of $3000 from the publishers, and between 1943 and 1944 he wrote the book while living at Bryn Mawr College. The book was published in 1945 in the USA and a year later in the UK. Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ... The Barnes Foundation is an educational art institution in Lower Merion Township, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States. ... For other uses, see Philadelphia (disambiguation) and Philly. ... For other uses, see 1941 (disambiguation). ... Year 1942 (MCMXLII) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link will display the full 1942 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1943 (MCMXLIII) was a common year starting on Friday (the link will display full 1943 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1943 (MCMXLIII) was a common year starting on Friday (the link will display full 1943 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1944 (MCMXLIV) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Bryn Mawr College (pronounced ) is a highly selective womens liberal arts college located in Bryn Mawr, a community in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, ten miles northwest of Philadelphia. ... Year 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar). ... Motto: (traditional) In God We Trust (official, 1956–present) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington, D.C. Largest city New York City Official language(s) None at the federal level; English de facto Government Federal Republic  - President George W. Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence - Declared - Recognized...


The book is divided into three books, each of which is subdivided into chapters; each chapter generally deals with a single philosopher, school of philosophy, or period of time.

Ancient Philosophy

Pythagoras of Samos (Greek: ; born between 580 and 572 BC, died between 500 and 490 BC) was an Ionian Greek mathematician[1] and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. ... Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ancient Greek - Herákleitos ho Ephésios (Herakleitos the Ephesian)) (about 535 - 475 BC), known as The Obscure (Ancient Greek - ho Skoteinós), was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor. ... Parmenides of Elea (Greek: , early 5th century BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Hellenic city on the southern coast of Italy. ... Empedocles (Greek: , ca. ... Anaxagoras Anaxagoras (Greek: Αναξαγόρας, c. ... Protagoras (in Greek Πρωταγόρας) was born around 481 BC in Abdera, Thrace in Ancient Greece. ... This page is about the Classical Greek philosopher. ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Aristotle (disambiguation). ... This article is about the ancient Greek school of philosophy. ... This article is about the psychological term. ... Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus (c. ... Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy, founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early third century BC. It proved to be a popular and durable philosophy, with a following throughout Greece and the Roman Empire from its founding until all the schools of philosophy were ordered closed... Plotinus (Greek: ) (ca. ...

Catholic Philosophy

Jewish philosophy refers to the conjunction between serious study of philosophy and Jewish theology. ... Islamic philosophy (الفلسفة الإسلامية) is a branch of Islamic studies, and is a longstanding attempt to create harmony between philosophy (reason) and the religious teachings of Islam (faith). ... For other uses, see Ambrose (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Jerome (disambiguation). ... Augustinus redirects here. ... Saint Benedict redirects here. ... “Saint Gregory” redirects here. ... J. Scotus Eriugena commemorated on a Irish banknote, issued 1976-1993 Johannes Scotus Eriugena (ca. ... Aquinas redirects here. ...

Modern Philosophy

Machiavelli redirects here. ... Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (also Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam) (October 27, probably 1466 – July 12, 1536) was a Dutch humanist and theologian. ... For the Elizabethan play, see Sir Thomas More (play). ... For other persons named Francis Bacon, see Francis Bacon (disambiguation). ... Hobbes redirects here. ... Descartes redirects here. ... Baruch de Spinoza (‎, Portuguese: , Latin: ) (November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. ... Leibniz redirects here. ... For other persons named John Locke, see John Locke (disambiguation). ... For the second husband of Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, see George Berkeley (MP). ... For other persons named David Hume, see David Hume (disambiguation). ... Rousseau redirects here. ... Kant redirects here. ... Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (IPA: ) (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher and, with Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, one of the representatives of German idealism. ... Byron redirects here. ... Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his work The World as Will and Representation. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a nineteenth-century German philologist and philosopher. ... This article discusses utilitarian ethical theory. ... Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 – March 14, 1883) was a 19th century philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. ... Henri-Louis Bergson (October 18, 1859–January 4, 1941) was a major French philosopher, influential in the first half of the 20th century. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, whose thoughts and ideas have been greatly influential in the United States and around the world. ...

Reaction and Aftermath

Russell's humorous and accessible style of writing made the book an immediate commercial success, which is still in print since its first publication. When Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, the History of Western Philosophy was cited as one of the books that won him the award. The success of the book provided Russell with much-needed financial security for the last quarter-century of his life. The Nobel Prize in literature is awarded annually to an author from any country who has produced the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency. The work in this case generally refers to an authors work as a whole, not to any individual work, though individual works are sometimes... Year 1950 (MCML) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...


"A precious book ... a work that is in the highest degree pedagogical which stands above the conflicts of parties and opinions." - Albert Einstein [2] “Einstein” redirects here. ...

"Parts of this famous book are sketchy ... in other respects it is a marvellously readable, magnificently sweeping survey of Western thought, distinctive for placing it informatively into its historical context. Russell enjoyed writing it, and the enjoyment shows; his later remarks about it equally show that he was conscious of its shortcomings." - A. C. Grayling [3] Anthony Clifford Grayling MA, DPhil (Oxon) FRSA (born 3 April 1949) is a British philosopher and author. ...

"Embodies what seems to me the worst features of Lord Russell's previous more journalistic works, but it is of a poorer quality than any of these." - Yorick Smythies, a supporter of Russell's former pupil Ludwig Wittgenstein [4] Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (IPA: ) (April 26, 1889 in Vienna, Austria – April 29, 1951 in Cambridge, England) was an Austrian philosopher who contributed several ground-breaking ideas to philosophy, primarily in the foundations of logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind. ...

"Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy is amusing, but suffers from defects ... First, it deals largely with ancient philosophy, and is curt and selective in its treatment of the post-Cartesian tradition. Secondly, it is dismissive towards all those philosophers with whom Russell felt no personal affinity. Thirdly, it shows no understanding of Kant and post-Kantian idealism. It is, for all that, a classic of wit, elegance and resolute idiosyncrasy." - Roger Scruton [5] Roger Vernon Scruton (born 27 February 1944) is a British philosopher. ...

"Mr. Russell's qualities as a writer and thinker ... are of a high order: deftness of wit, vigor of mind and suppleness of style. Yet their presence ... do not save the book ... from being perhaps the worst that Mr. Russell has written.... As one would expect, the author is at his best when dealing with present day ideas, if for no other reason than his large share in their inception.... By contrast, his treatment of ancient and medieval doctrines is nearly worthless." - Leo Roberts [6]

"A History of Western Philosophy errs consistently in this respect. Its author never seems to be able to make up his mind whether he is writing history or polemic.... [Its method] confers on philosophers who are dead and gone a kind of false contemporaneity which may make them seem important to the uninitiate. But nevertheless it is a misreading of history." - George Boas[7] George Boas (28 August 1891 – 17 March 1980) was a Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University. ...

"History of Western Philosophy, a vulgar, but representative book." - George Steiner [8] (Francis) George Steiner, a prominent literary critic, was born in Paris, France, on April 23, 1929. ...

Russell himself had something to say about the book: I regarded the early part of my History of Western Philosophy as a history of culture, but in the later parts, where science becomes important, it is more difficult to fit into this framework. I did my best, but I am not at all sure that I succeeded. I was sometimes accused by reviewers of writing not a true history but a biased account of the events that I arbitrarily chose to write of. But to my mind, a man without bias cannot write interesting history — if, indeed, such a man exists.[2]


  1. ^ Russell, B: "The History of Western Philosophy", page xi. Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1972
  2. ^ a b Russell, B: "The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell", Routledge, 2000
  3. ^ Grayling, A. C.: "Russell: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)", Oxford University Press, 2002
  4. ^ Monk, R: "Bertrand Russell: 1921-1970, The Ghost of Madness", Free Press, 2001
  5. ^ Scruton, R: "Short History of Modern Philosophy ", Routledge, 2001
  6. ^ Roberts, L: "Review of History of Western Philosophy", Isis, 38(1948): 268-270
  7. ^ Boas, G: "Review of History of Western Philosophy", Journal of the History of Ideas, 8(1947): 117-123
  8. ^ Steiner, G: "Martin Heidegger", University Of Chicago Press, 1991

See also

Lectures on the Philosophy of History (also translated as Lectures on the Philosophy of World History) is the title of a major work by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. ... Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (IPA: ) (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher and, with Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, one of the representatives of German idealism. ... This article needs to be wikified. ... Frederick Charles Copleston, (April 10, 1907, Taunton, Somerset, England – February 3, 1994, London, England) was a Jesuit priest and writer on philosophy. ...

  Results from FactBites:
History of Western Philosophy (Russell) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (213 words)
Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy : And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day has the ambitious goal of tracing Western philosophy from the earliest times to Russell's, which was the nineteen sixties.
A great deal of the work is focused on the foundations of modern Western philosophy on Ancient Greek philosophy; these themes permeate the work.
Russell seems truly depressed to have to report the floundering of intellectual endeavour through early Christian times and the Dark Ages.
  More results at FactBites »



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