Have you ever wondered which philosophy you embody the most? Well, I can tell you that you probably don’t stand by just one. More often than not, people will mix several philosophies to live by, to match their own values. Philosophy has grown tremendously over the years and you may be shocked to find out how interconnected many philosophies actually are.
Will Durant’s book The Story of Philosophy is an exceptional account of the lives and stories of great western philosophers. He shares how these great people’s minds worked and how their philosophies came to be. Keep reading, because the story of philosophy will blow your mind.
Philosophers Are People Too
One thing that I liked in particular about the book, was how Will Durant explains the environment in which these famous philosophers grew up. I found this information invaluable because I got to understand how their upbringing played a pivotal role in their philosophies.
Often, people appreciate the ideas these people have come up with, but do not make an effort to understand how these ideas came to be. This leaves famous philosophers like Socrates and Plato, looking more like born-prodigies rather than ordinary people.
The Story of Philosophy allowed me to see these people in a different light. From their childhood to their love lives, you realize how similar these people were to you.
What The Book Is All About
The Story of Philosophy goes into detail about the lives and thought processes of:
- Francis Bacon
- Baruch Spinoza
- Immanuel Kant
- Arthur Schopenhauer
- Herbert Spencer
- Friedrich Nietzsche
- Henri Bergson
- Benedetto Croce
- Bertrand Russell
These philosophers each had their own unique stories, but what is amazing, is how Will Durant interprets and connects all of these philosophies, painting for you a clear picture of how ideas start and how they develop over the years.
There is a certain allure when it comes to philosophy. Yes, the ideas of these great minds have impacted the world in numerous ways, but who is to say that an idea cannot be further expanded upon or improved?
As I said before, you get to understand how ordinary these people were. There wasn’t a magic quality that all of these people shared which made them great. This leaves you, the reader, to realize how open these ideas still are. You are free to interpret these philosophies in any way you want to. Likewise, you also have the freedom to adjust them to match your values and way of life. This is what I find so beautiful about philosophy. It’s an art, not a science, meaning there is no definitive answer for anything and the only thing to get you to an answer is your own unique style of thinking.
There is no better treat for your brain than wisdom and this book definitely provides its fair share. The story of each philosopher leaves you with a lot to think about. After reading, you are sure to learn something new and hopefully apply some of this wisdom to make your life more meaningful.
There are countless gems in this book, but here are a few quotes that are sure to get you thinking:
“One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.”
“Morality, said Jesus, is kindness to the weak; morality, said Nietzsche, is the bravery of the strong; morality, says Plato, is the effective harmony of the whole.”
“We can choose what we shall be, by choosing now the environment that shall mould us; so we are free in the sense that we mould our own characters by our choice of friends, books, occupations, and amusements.”
“Where there is no strife there is decay”
“An emotion can neither be hindered nor removed except by a contrary and stronger emotion.”
You are bound to have plenty of those stop-and-think moments when reading this book. Several of these ideas can add a lot of value to your life and I personally feel like I benefited immensely from this book. I learned that the problem isn’t what’s happening in your life. All the things that happen are just exactly that: happenings. The problem is often how you see and react to the things that are going on around you.
Who Should Read This Book
Honestly, I think that this book should be read by everyone at least once. You don’t have to be an expert to appreciate the wisdom and the nature of philosophy allows it to be applied to almost any aspect in life.
The book serves as a brief summary of the history of philosophy, but you get so much more than that. If you’ve been going through some tough times or want to find your meaning in life, then the world of philosophy is an excellent world to explore.
The Story of Philosophy made me appreciate the important things in life. This book genuinely means a lot to me as it inspired me to learn even more about philosophy and helped me through some tough times in my own life.
Life is full of problems, but once I got deeper and deeper into the world of philosophy, I learned how much of these problems were actually because of me, not the outside world.
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If you really want the full experience, I suggest getting the audiobook and making notes as you listen.
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