Witcraft[EPUB] ✸ Witcraft By Jonathan Rée – Tbjewellers.co.uk 'Astonishing enjoy its riches slowly and savour every generous erudite and undogmatic page' Boyd Tonkin Financial Times'We English men have wits' wrote the clergyman Ralph Lever in 1573 and 'we have a 'Astonishing enjoy its riches slowly and savour every generous erudite and undogmatic page' Boyd Tonkin Financial Times'We English men have wits' wrote the clergyman Ralph Lever in and 'we have also framed unto ourselves a language' Witcraft is a fresh and brilliant history of how philosophy became established in English It presents a new form of philosophical storytelling and challenges what Jonathan Rée calls the 'condescending smugness' of traditional histories of philosophy Rée tells the story of philosophy as it was lived and practised embedded in its time and place by men and women from many walks of life engaged with the debates and culture of their age And by focusing on the rich history of works in English including translations he shows them to be uite as colourful diverse inventive and cosmopolitan as their continental counterparts Witcraft offers new and compelling intellectual portraits not only of celebrated British and American philosophers such as Hume Emerson Mill and James but also of the remarkable philosophical work of literary authors such as William Hazlitt and George Eliot as well as a carnival of overlooked characters priests and poets teachers servants and crofters thinking for themselves and reaching their own conclusions about religion politics art and everything elseThe book adopts a novel structure examining its subject at fifty year intervals from the sixteenth century to the twentieth Researched over decades and illuminated by uotations from extensive archival material it is a book full of stories and personalities as well as ideas and shows philosophy springing from the life around it Witcraft overturns the established orthodoxies of the history of philosophy and celebrates the diversity vitality and inventiveness of philosophical thought.

Jonathan Rée is a freelance philosopher who used to teach at Middlesex University in London but gave up lecturing in order to have time to think and was for many years associated with the magazine Radical Philosophy His work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement the London Review of Books and elsewhere.

Witcraft ePUB ´ Hardcover
  • Hardcover
  • 768 pages
  • Witcraft
  • Jonathan Rée
  • 15 July 2016
  • 9780713999334

10 thoughts on “Witcraft

  1. says:

    Linguistic Promiscuity The Politics of WordsNever trust language no matter who is using it The problem doesn’t lie with the speaker or writer; it’s in the language Language may be useful beautiful inspiring even true But it is never real Language has nothing to do with reality uite the opposite it always separates us from reality Witcraft is an entertaining and erudite demonstration of just how language obfuscates; and how that obfuscation is also immensely revelatory about the reality of its users Perhaps the book is a bit too erudite for the casual reader in its level of detail But it’s main points seem clear enoughBecause words are connected only to other words not to non words their meaning is never fixed Words bob randomly on the tumultuous sea of language Sometimes they float on the surface appearing to have ‘obvious’ references to non words; but these tend not to last as long as the words themselves which are constantly rearranging their relations to other words Sometimes they sink a bit into the depths and are known only to professionals whose domain is that of arcana and esoterica like doctors and lawyers archaic fossils which are kept in use as tribal symbols like religious creeds And very often they drop to the ocean bottom and lose their connections to other words entirely except for linguistic historians like ReéNothing makes the semantic fluidity of words obvious than translation The connections among words in one language never correspond to the connections in another So for example Heimat in German might be translated into English as ‘homeland;’ but the connotations in German of its use under National Socialism aren’t captured at all And there simply is no English word which can do any better uite literally to translate any word accurately would reuire a reestablishment of the entire lexicon of both languages a clear cultural impossibilityLess obvious but dangerous as a conseuence is the implicit translation we make of historical texts For example the 16th century English adjective ‘naughtie’ doesn’t refer to the trivial misbehaviour of a child but to mature predatory evil And it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with its homophone ‘noughtie’ designating a person of the early 21st century which I have recently found to be mis spelled as the former term Sometimes of course the change takes place far rapidly For example Even as recently as twenty years ago ‘gay’ implied happiness not homosexualityChanges in the significance of any single word affect the entire language This is especially obvious in technical languages such as those used in philosophical discourse For all its precision it is simply not possible to represent the terms of discourse in Ancient Greek upon which much of philosophy is based into modern languages Even the word for ‘word’ in Greek logos λόγος can be translated within a semantic range that includes ‘order’ ‘reason’ ‘opinion’ ‘expectation’ and ‘principle’ just to name a few possibilities This puts a definite cramp in the exhortation to ‘be reasonable’ by the participant in any philosophical argument No one has any firm idea what the exhortation could mean; or likely but euivalently each participant will have their own ideaIn fact even in our native language we are translating all the time when we listen or read Every individual has his or her uniue constellation of connotations Our words always mean something different to others We call this sort of simultaneous translation interpretation The result is an unavoidable linguistic indeterminacy or promiscuity as Reé calls it thus demonstrating his point that obviously has practical conseuences; although language does its best to hide the obvious For example in my own field of theology the great Arian controversy between the Eastern and Western churches about the divine status of Christ in the second and third centuries was he eual to his Father or not was resolved with a monumental linguistic fudge It was decreed by the participants of the Council of Nicaea that Greek ousia ουσία and the Latin substantia were euivalent and that Christ’s and the Father’s were the same In fact the two terms were contraries perhaps even opposites The pretence about agreement kept everyone together though if only for a time And the Nicene creed is recited in many Christian churches today with the terms in uestion translated as ‘being’ which according to Plato was merely another designation of logos Some words do get aroundThe law is as eually fond as religion in trying to maintain the fixity of language For example legal historians like to connect the modern corporation and therefore its status with the Roman corporatio Linguistically this seems plausible but it is entirely wrong The Romans knew nothing like the modern corporation and would probably be appalled at its status as an artificial person The corporation does in fact have its roots in Roman law but in an obscure convention that was ultimately picked up by the new orders of Catholic friars in the 13th century which wanted to use property without owning it It took almost exactly a century of legal battles in the Roman Curia the international court of the day to arrive at an articulation of the institution that would come to dominate our worldFor Reé imprecision and inaccuracy are unavoidably built into any philosophical discourse Indeed any use of language confronts the same problems But for Reé it is in philosophy that these problems are meant to be addressed “Most branches of culture – from poetry and prose to music politics law and unreflective forms of thought – are deeply imprinted with the distinctions concepts rhythms strategies and styles of the language they inhabit But philosophy is different It stands in a refractory relationship to all the languages in which it is practised and it has always been linguistically promiscuous” In this sense the role of philosophy is counter cultural namely to call out those folk like the Red ueen in Alice in Wonderland many politicians some scientists and of course Donald Trump who pretend that they are the ultimate arbiters of language and what it really means In general those who insist most on their ability to describe and analyse the world in their own terms are probably the least reliable Their real agenda may not be visible but that they have one is made clear by their insistence on the correctness of their own language

  2. says:

    If you're into stuff like this you can read the full reviewEvery Simple Shewsay Witcraft The Invention of Philosophy in English by Jonathan RéeI'm re reading “Witcraft The Invention of Philosophy in English” by Jonathan Rée One of his theses is that philosophy has long been a multilingual study and much of its peculiar character derives from attempts by speakers of one language to make sense of terms used in another For example scholars of Latin who knew no Greek might not realize that the terms they were coming across oratio definitio ratiocinatio sermo disputatio verbum and proportio were all translations of a single Greek word logos

  3. says:

    Excellent stuff particularly when dealing with the pre 19thc Essential reading for anyone interested in the subject

  4. says:

    I very much enjoyed this massive erudite book which has been an on and off part of my life for several weeks now A huge undertaking of research thinking and writing I am somewhat in awe of the authorThe book is uite hard to categorise It is about philosophy as a subject but it is not philosophy book yet it includes some very clear explanations of some philosophical ideas It is not just a history of ideas yet it contains a lot that would be considered as history of ideas It is not a biography but contains some wonderful biographical descriptions of philosophers particularly Wittgenstein in the last chapter It is mostly a history of how philosophy as a subject developed in English speaking countries Well really the UK and the USA At times I thought the book was wonderful and by putting some philosophers and their ideas into the historical and social context made them accessible and vibrant to me For example I had covered some materials on Dewey and pragmatism on my undergraduate philosophy degree and found it rather dry and unappealing I will go back and look at it now I liked the exploration of the tension between philosophers seeking an academic subject and those seeking something of use in everyday life to everyone On top of all this there are a few parts which are genuinely funny not something you often say about a philosophy book I think this will mostly interest people with a relatively deep interest in philosophy but I judge it as accessible to anyone interested in how ideas develop and how a subject is created even if you have not read much philosophy before I was certainly introduced to a host of thinkers I had not come across before and some names who I know but had not really considered as philosophers The author has some biases in favour of certain philosophers over others but when you read the book you will understand why

  5. says:

    Sometime in my adolescence I read Sophie’s World which really is as good an introductory primer to the history of Western philosophy as any At least for me it gave me the grounding for the timeline and Big Basic Thoughts that I’ve been working off ever since In my last year of school I went to an open day in UCC and attended a lecture on philosophy as part of the Arts curriculum I still remember the panache of the lecturer and thinking how lovely it would be to study something so interestingReading this book reminded me of that not alone because I went on to spend five years of undergrad and ten years of postgrad studying a subject I did NOT find interesting but because there’s so few women in it Not for want of Rees’ trying mind you – I’m not trying to excoriate him There’s a whole section in which Mary Ann EvansGeorge Eliot is the lynchpin figure He brings in WAGS as much as possible plus the opinions of female students and bit players The fact remains however that the men got to sit around thinking big thoughts discussing philosophy while hiking and spending all day writing for the greater good while invisible women ran around them cooking and cleaning and washing their socks and making sure I imagine that they had enough candles and paper and pens into the bargain At any point in time I am not part of this amazing picture in cloisters or coffee houses or Oxbridge tutorial rooms I’m cleaning them And the reflection just made me sadIt’s an absolutely superb work – to me I add the ualification because there’s mention throughout the book of philosophy that was written for the intelligentsia and philosophy primers that were written for the great unwashed and there’s a clear distinction between the two In this case I’m obviously the neophyte who’s read shamefully little primary source philosophical works and in no particular order either So to me this engrossing mammoth tale starting in 1601 and hopping to flashpoints of history up until 1951 is a masterpiece Ree is unbelievably well read not just in the classics of philosophy an achievement in itself considering how long I took with Descartes’ Meditations – and that’s only ONE of his books but in a multitude of peripheral works as well He introduces the big players with the eclat of the reveal in a mystery novel but they’re surrounded by fascinating supporting actors It’s a reminder too that the writers of these great works needed readers critics and teachers to disseminate their work Ree pays much needed homage to them as wellIt’s also fascinating and a bit comforting to see how absolutely fervid people were about the difference between Protestantism and Catholicism in the 1600s and 1700s to the point of dying for their particular belief and how that just went away People will definitely look back at say nationalism or Brexit in four hundred years and go ‘lol look at those fools” I mean if we are not all wiped out or robots by thenI can’t say I grasped every concept fully because he wasn’t trying to write a history of philosophical contexts so much as a history of points of change in philosophical thought I thought the choice of anchoring years and people worked really well so that it wasn’t a straightforward timeline but one that swung round and round a fixed point in each chapter It made it exciting I particularly loved the George Eliot chapter but it’s clear that the author’s main love is for Wittgenstein Given how much I love Bertrand Russell mainly because of that anecdote about him being asked by a policeman ‘can’t you READ’ it was both amusing and painful to read this slightly jaundiced fully balanced view of him As far as it’s possible Ree is fair and balanced but the fact that say he picked William James to be a touchstone and not someone else or George Eliot rather than Mill is a bias in and of itself The writing is so clear and well formed it disappears Reading it is like swimming in water so clean you forget it’s there Except for the amount of times he refers to a volume of a book as ‘luxurious’ That happens A LOT There are many although not an eual number of ‘delectable’ females“In his closing pages Spinoza explained how selfhood becomes attenuated as wisdom decreases dissolving eventually into the selfless bliss of amor dei intellectualis or the ‘intellectual love of God’”I feel like this ‘loss of selfhood boundaries’ is a common theme in philosophy that has made its way to mindfulness Also Ethics is sitting on my bookshelf reproachfully“From hence these opinions were most plausible not which were most true but which were most defensible”“The problem of the unity of the self – whether it comes before or after experience – was not going to go away”Stillingfleet has a point thereI have uite liked Adam Smith since I read The Wealth of Nations and found out he isn’t Milton Friedman so when he said this I really empathized“It is uite otherwise when we are melancholy and desponding; we then freuently find ourselves haunted as it were by some thought which we would gladly chase away but which constantly pursues us”“Shaftesbury and Hutcheson were on the right track when they ascribed moral perceptions to a moral sense virtue and vice are indeed ‘ properly felt than judg’d of’ and moral distinctions are based on ‘feeling or sentiment’ rather than intellect”This“History shows us that our ‘natural’ sentiments come to be supplemented by articifial notions most notably the idea of universal euity known as justice Justice reuires us to discipline our instinctive morality and bind ourselves to general rules which oblige us to respect property whoever it belongs to and to keep promises and obey legitimate authority”Hume “We are disconcerted by gaps in our experience and ‘feign the continu’d existence of the perceptions of our senses to remove the interruption; and run into the notion of a soul and self and substance to disguise the variation” And“The realization that we are ‘nothing but a bundle of different perceptions which succeed one another with inconceivable rapidity’ the fiction of a permanent self”ARGH“The ultimate goal of morality was ‘common Interest’ rather than personal virtue and it commanded our allegiance not for reasons of natural law or religious duty but simply because as Hume puts it ‘Utility pleases’”‘An Enuiry’ is also staring at me from the bookshelf“Even when no one can observe us we will worry about how others would regard us ‘if they were better informed’ We thus build up within ourselves an imaginary agent of justice or what Smith calls a ‘cool and impartial spectator’”Hazlitt on painting “People like his father would never understand why it took so long wondering ‘what you have to do but set down what you see’ But practice was teaching him ‘how little we see or know even of the most familiar face beyond a vague abstraction’ It is not easy to see what you are looking at ‘the difficulty is to see what is before you’ he said”“’It may be doubted’ Evans wrote ‘whether a mind which has no susceptibility to the pleasure of changing its point of view of mastering a remote form of thought can possess the flexibility the ready sympathy or the tolerance which characterizes a truly philosophic nature’”You tell ‘em George Other great uotes“Cupid listens to no entreaties; we must deal with him as an enemy either boldly parry his shafts or flee”“’No claim upon God’ she retorted; if he created us then clearly we have ‘the strongest possible claim’”‘John Sibree had chosen honesty over compromise without regard to the conseuences ‘these are the tragedies for which the world cares so little’ she said ‘but which are so much to me’”From Mill and Godwin“In Britain and elsewhere democracy was becoming ‘the ruling principle of the nation’ forcing progressive politicians to replace rational considerations of justice with ‘forcible appeals to the masses’”OopsTocueville “Political leadership in a democracy involved fawning on the populace and inciting a ‘perpetual practice of self applause’ rather than offering instruction and honest advice Liberal education which should provide a bulwark against popular tyranny was languishing because prosperous Americans expected their sons to embark on a career by the age of fifteen and no one would undertake further study unless it was going to be ‘lucrative’’”Mill “The doctrine that the existing order of things is the natural order and that being natural all innovation upon it is criminal is as vicious in morals as it is now at last admitted to be in physics and in society and government”“as if morality were an infallible oracle rather than an amalgam of tired dogmas hopelessly compromised by their entanglement with religion”William James “Every intellectual opinion was fraught with risk according to James and there was no power in the universe neither religious nor scientific that could save us from ‘believing too little or believing too much’”“The God that most believers care for is not an ‘external inventor’ who created the universe on an unfathomable whim but a ‘cosmic and tragic personage’ craving our love and trying to love us in return”“A bias towards rationality and verbal explicitness might itself be an irrational impulse”Wittgenstein on Frege “He once showed me an obituary on a colleague who it was said never used a word without knowing what it meant; he expressed astonishment that a man should be praised for this”“Morality was about codes of conduct and judgements of vice and virtue and choices between alternative courses of action but ethics was concerned with an issue that precedes codes judgements and choices why should anyone worry about what to do or what kind of life to lead”“whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent”“If I say I cannot run a mile for instance it makes sense for you to tell me to try harder but not if I say I cannot feel someone else’s pain the first case turns on my personal limitations but the second on the rules for language games involving pain”“Mathematical demonstrations are a matter not of ‘discovery’ but ‘invention’ and they depend on ‘gossip’ as much as proof while aesthetic judgements often involve rigorous ideas of accuracy and correctness rather than vague notions of loveliness or refinement” – FASCINATINGVaihinger “We know for example that there are no such thingas perfect atoms or irrational numbers or things in themselves or God empty space or the social contract; but we proceed as if they existed because they help us in ‘finding our way about’”Pratchettesue I thought the definining principle of Discworld theologyIn 1846 Kierkegaard thought that we are ‘tormented by journalists and overawed by ‘the phantom of the public’ and Wittgenstein was worried about the same feeling in 1914 WHAT WOULD THEY HAVE MADE OF 2019Croce “the anti historicism of the reactionaries who want to impose ‘order’ and ‘discipline’ on a world they see as corrupt and fragmented and on the other the anti historicism of revolutionaries who dream of a pristine new society ‘a future without a past’” I need to read this guyTS Eliot said of Russell “he laughed like an irresponsible foetus” this is now all I want to achieve in lifeAuden “when ethics is stirpped of ‘the point of view of getting to know the world through sin’ it shrivels to ‘a short summary of police ordinances’”

  6. says:

    Probably only for those with a decent amount of philosophy in their past but with that caveat this is one of the best histories of philosophy you're likely to read It's beautifully written and also 'innovative' a term that I don't usually use Ree aspires to write a less top down history and or less succeeds particularly in the first few chapters Each chapter is nicely structured an individual is the focus and Ree branches out from there showing as best he can what philosophy was like in the Anglosphere during that person's life This is uite a literary feat and for that alone anyone who writes anything should have a look at the book Intellectually too it's compelling particularly because Ree just admits that most of the history of philosophy has been adjacent to religion and religious uestions I dock a star for the last chapters I can just about see why one would choose William James and Wittgenstein as your representatives of early and mid twentieth century philosophy but both chapters are too long and too focused on those two men That's a particular shame for James since his thought is really representative of recent philosophy than the thinking of his time and something on the growth of analytic philosophy about which Ree is rightly ambivalent would have been interesting The Wittgenstein was just too long and has been told so often that it was hard to care about this particular version of it

  7. says:

    This is not the type of history that we are used to Ree has adopted an unusual methodology He takes the history of philosophy in English which includes the US in fifty year slices He does not try to be a completist within a dogged narrative of 'this then that' Broadly speaking it worksStarting in 1601 in lengthy chapters he moves precisely in time 1651 1701 1901 1951 and tells a story centred on what it might have been like to think philosophically in that year looking back over the events since the last date He refuses to be rigid in his approach and this is a good thingIt means that every half century is treated almost eually so we can see which periods were times when English language philosophy was vibrant on its own terms and influencing the world and when it was weak localised and a derivative branch of something else often literature or theologyRee cannot cover everything People who do tend to produce dry catalogues The chapters are centred on the relationships and interconnections between key figures so you get a sense of philosophy being conducted within milieux that refer back in time to previous periodsOften one figure dominates the narrative Understandably philosophy in the first half of the twentieth century is dominated by Wittgenstein but for example he uses Adam Smith for the 50 years to 1751 Mary Ann Evans George Eliot for the 50 years to 1851 and William James to 1901The choice of Mary Ann Evans seemed odd at first One might suspect that Ree had fallen prey to political correctness and would have lost a star accordingly except that though not a wholly interesting philosopher herself she was at the centre of a web of important connectionsThere is a period after Smith and Hume and before James when philosophy in English is not uite world beating other than Mill but where ideas expressed in English are still interesting and influential and when philosophy becomes tightly entwined with other ways of seeingIf Mary Ann Evans is justified by her connection to Mill the other dominant literary figure Hazlitt for the period before 1801 is justified by his role as intellectual bridge between the nonconformist religiosity of the eighteenth century and German idealismOne is struck by the constant interconnections between English language philosophical thinking religion political activism and literature religion in particular Religion and not philosophy often dominated national intellectual discourseThe long period from the late eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century when intellectual life was a dialogue between philosophical activism literature and religion is book ended by two periods with a precise interest in philosophyThe first was the formation of English empiricism seeded by Bacon but reaching its greatest potency in the eras of Locke and Hume The second was the period in which American pragmatism continental origin Logical Positivism and Wittgenstein contested the same groundThe former reminds us of the critical importance of Scottish education and religious struggles in the formation of British culture The latter tells us of the eually central importance to English philosophy of Vienna in the twentieth century Ree is not a light read Philosophy is a difficult subject at the best of times Many of these thinkers were dealing with complex technical issues I suspect there will be times when the average intelligent reader will just have to admit he is stumped and read it up in the Stanford EncyclopediaBut this should not put you off First of all it should get you wanting to know and send you off to do reading on your own account Second it is good not to be patronised with over simplifications The real story here lies in the history and flow of relationshipsMost histories keep their philosophers isolated and try too hard to explain what it was precisely that they thought This history may be elusive on such systems but you get a sense of thought developing over time how it changed in a social context and how influence ebbed and flowedYou may still need to read a conventional history for a fuller framework but what you will get from this book is a strong sense of how philosophy related to the wider culture of its time how thought relates to personality and how much of a challenge it can be to think something newIt also shows us continuities over time You are sure to find someone in each chapter who relates directly or intellectually to someone in the previous chapter who relates in the same way to someone in the chapter before that and so on Philosophy is a tradition in its own rightAnd Ree is very good indeed at evoking the personalities of philosophers You are under the illusion uite uickly that you know them enough to like or dislike them In general I found the 'greater' the philosopher the interesting and likeable to me they tended to be That is not to say that philosophical controversies could not get very waspish and sometimes downright nasty If you embed your identity in an idea you can feel very threatened by criticism although the best always tended to doubt themselves and take constructive criticisms seriously There are 'great men' I am afraid Mary Ann Evans becomes great as an intellectual leader and literary figure rather than as a philosopher but they are now embedded by Ree in the history of their times They are rather than less interesting for thisBecause he adopts this approach of embedding philosophy in its time he has the opportunity to re introduce those forgotten philosophers who were important bridges between the 'greats' and who made significant contributions on their own accountTo take one example although there is not enormous coverage of the pragmatism that followed William James considerable and worthwhile time is spent on the intellectual circles that underpinned him and which were connected to Emerson and the TranscendentalistsWe see the same with nonconformist struggles to accommodate the new deistic philosophies of the late eighteenth century and its associated political radicalisms and much earlier still the humanists' determination to finish off the 'school men' in the late sixteenth centuryRee is also open minded about the occasional breakthroughs into the elite mainstream of working class thinkers even if he has virtually nothing of conseuence to say about the development of English Marxism Where women are rare actors in the game they are introduced well and fairlyThose two examples immediately tell you of the price paid by Ree in going for densely told detail of the mainstream struggles over intellectual dominance His notion of mainstream and determination to discuss connection in depth excludes whole tracts of English language historical philosophyHe is probably right to throw a lot of religious radical political thought and literary matters at us because they arise naturally from his specific tales of relations but it does mean gaps American Pragmatism and Marxism were just the most obviousOne final observation he is good on the flow of ideas from overseas into the British system and from Britain to the Americas and back again and the way that English philosophers used the 'new philosophies' to develop distinctive national variantsIt might take time for a continental philosopher to be translated cogently into English but there were many capable of reading texts in the original language and interpreting them even appropriating them Any truly creative idea such as those of Descartes was uickly assimilated Overall it is a very useful supplementary text for studying the history of philosophy but it is not an encyclopedia It is one long and highly educative exercise in intriguing us and making us to want to know about the missed bits and complexities and so I recommend it

  8. says:

    Thanks to Yale University Press for the Sample Chapter ARC at BEA 2019I will preface this review by noting that I received only a sample selection of this book which included only the first 468 of the total 768 pages of the book The Table of Contents revealed that the actual book ends at page 615 after which are the in text citations for the book That means I am missing about 150 pages of argument and analysis as well as the entire references Therefore I cannot verify the academic claims of the book against its sources nor do I have the full content of the book I will be judging it based on the arguments and analysis provided in the sections I received which I believe stand strong enough to be able to pass general judgement on the whole bookRee makes an insightful point that the history of philosophy until now has been dry and weak focusing on the general points made by a handful of prominent philosophers This perspective has no meaningful reasoning beyond upholding a very specific view of philosophy as clear Hegelian dialectic between great figures Ree notes that the true history of Western moral philosophy in light of the insights seen in other forms of history from below is much complex and reuires analyzing how the works of prominent philosophers impacted writers scientists artists politicians and theologians of the time He makes a point to reference not only the works of famous philosophers Aristotle Kant Hume Descartes Burke Locke Hegel Mill Marx etc but also the people they directly influenced Shakespeare Darwin William Hazlitt etc Ree uses this to answer a uestion that people don't like to ask how is it that so many prominent philosophers had such a massive impact on moral reasoning when the overwhelming majority of people only know of them in passing and have almost certainly never read their work The answer those philosophers influenced the work of many other prominent writers and thinkers and as such their reasoning was reproduced and embedded into the social consciousness without anyone really realizing so until decades after the fact An insightful read but dense and academic If you can handle academic text and have some background in philosophy highly recommend and I can't wait till it comes out in full so I can finish it

  9. says:

    Tour de force I wish he had spent less time on James Russell and Wittgenstein but it was still immensely instructive and enjoyable I especially enjoyed his account of the 19th century philosophy I was surprised to find so many rationalist republican Unitarian mostly necessitarian followers of Locke researching and writing philosophy in the era Most of them don't get mentioned in mainstream histories of philosophy It also highlights often neglected fact of how crucial Christian scholarship especially Protestant and Puritan Christian scholarship for the emergence of early Modern Philosophy More contentiously it confirmed my belief that British Philosophical tradition can be understood as a series of footnotes on Locke of course I'm stealing here from Alfred North Whitehead “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato”

  10. says:

    This is an excellent history with a uniue approach and some interesting choices of protagonists There is an oversampling of uotations which can make the book feel long winded; however there are enough juxtapositions of philosophers and ideas to make the louacity worth enduring

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