Author: Luc Ferry
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
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.