Nonfiction Review: A Brief History of Thought

December 20, 2017 Uncategorized 2

Nonfiction Review: A Brief History of ThoughtTitle: A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living
Author: Luc Ferry
Source: Library
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: This was a worthwhile read and presented clearly enough that I feel better educated for having read it, but it was also dense enough that it wasn’t a fun read.

This book is a crash course on the history of philosophy. The author covers six main schools of thought in chronological order, including “the timeless wisdom of the ancient Greeks[,] Christianity, the Enlightenment, existentialism, and postmodernism”. He presents the basics of each of these philosophies in a nice, structured framework with lots of quotes so the reader can become familiar with classic texts in the field.

Initially, this book was pretty hard to follow. The author writes in a conversational style. This became approachable later on but initially felt meandering. The book was also harder to get into because the author introduced specialized vocabulary that he could have done without. Some of it was never used after the initial definition. However, things improved when the author outlined his theory of the three components of a philosophy and started presenting each philosophy within that framework. The framework really helped me understand each philosophy and how they related to each other. The chronological presentation with descriptions of the historical relationships between the philosophies also made them easier to understand.

Even once I got into this book, it was dense. I had to read slowly to understand what the author was saying. I also have to admit that I mostly picked this up to fill in a number for my Dewey Decimal Challenge, not because I was particularly excited about the topic. I do feel better educated for having read this. I’m glad that I’ll be able to understand references to philosophers discussed here in the future. I think the author did a good job making a difficult topic approachable. That said, this wasn’t what I’d call a fun nonfiction read.

2 Responses to “Nonfiction Review: A Brief History of Thought”

  1. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Hahaha, yeah, there’s a very solid reason that I did not major in philosophy. I was lucky to have a philosophy class in high school where we learned the basics of a whole bunch of the major philosophers, and I feel like that’s enough for one lifetime. It was a fun class! But philosophy is not my jam.
    Jenny @ Reading the End recently posted…Something on Sunday, 12/17My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      That’s exactly what this was like for me! I got the basics, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it and don’t really want to read about philosophy any more 🙂

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