A Brief History of Thought

A Philosophical Guide to Living
A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living. HarperPerennial: HarperCollins. 2012. c.304p. tr. from French by Theo Cuffe. index. ISBN 9780062074249. pap. $14.99. PHIL
Ferry (philosophy, Univ. of Paris; Man Made God: The Meaning of Life) offers an "introduction" to philosophical reflection and reasoning that he intends to be accessible to children as well as casual adult readers. This volume, a best seller in France, is less likely to be of interest in the United States to anyone untutored in reading academic prose. What Ferry does provide, however, is context and extrapolation on such canonical philosophers as the Pre-Socratics, Augustine, Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. By referencing literary works published during the flow of Western philosophy's history and showing how they inform and are informed by contemporary developments in the philosophy of ethics, reality, education, and reason, he enriches his discussion in a manner that does indeed speak well to educated lay readers who have not heretofore tried to access the main tenets of Western thought's development. By offering inspired but credible associations between specific philosophical conceptions and the "good life," he also provides a way for readers to personalize this intellectual voyage.
VERDICT For readers set to explore Western philosophy or those who enjoy such introspective writers as Viktor Frankl (Man's Search for Meaning).
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