Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English

Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English[EPUB] ✸ Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English 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 , an 'Astonishingenjoy its Invention of ePUB ´ 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 Witcraft: The Epub / 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 quite as colourful, diverse, inventive and cosmopolitan as their continental counterpartsWitcraft 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 characterspriests and poets, teachers, servants and crofters, thinking The Invention of eBook ✓ for themselves and reaching their own conclusions about religion, politics, art and everything elseThe book adopts a novel structure, examining its subject at fiftyyear intervals from the sixteenth century to the twentieth Researched over decades and illuminated by quotations 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.

Invention of Invention of ePUB ´ eBook 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 iOS for the iPad is the biggest iOS release ever magazine Radical Philosophy His work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books and elsewhere.

Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English PDF
    PDF Reader for the Connected World 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 quite as colourful, diverse, inventive and cosmopolitan as their continental counterpartsWitcraft 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 characterspriests and poets, teachers, servants and crofters, thinking The Invention of eBook ✓ for themselves and reaching their own conclusions about religion, politics, art and everything elseThe book adopts a novel structure, examining its subject at fiftyyear intervals from the sixteenth century to the twentieth Researched over decades and illuminated by quotations 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."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 768 pages
  • Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English
  • Jonathan Rée
  • 15 July 2019
  • 9780713999334

10 thoughts on “Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English

  1. says:

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

  2. 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 author!

    The book is quite 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 more 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 more 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.

  3. 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 interesting.

    Reading 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 Evans/George 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 sad.

    It’s an absolutely superb work – to me. I add the qualification 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 well.

    It’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 then).

    I 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 more 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 equal 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 there.

    I have quite 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 quite otherwise when we are melancholy and desponding; we then frequently 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 ‘more 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 equity, known as justice. Justice requires 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 Enquiry’ 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 quotes:
    “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 consequences: ‘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’.”

    Oops.

    Tocqueville: “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.” – FASCINATING.

    Vaihinger: “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’.”

    Pratchettesque, I thought, the definining principle of Discworld theology?

    In 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 2019?

    Croce: “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 guy.

    TS Eliot said of Russell: “he laughed like an irresponsible foetus” - this is now all I want to achieve in life.

    Auden: “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.’”

  4. 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 more 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 quite 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 questions.

    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 more 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 more 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.

  5. 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 works.

    Starting 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 thing.

    It means that every half century is treated (almost) equally 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 theology.

    Ree 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 periods.

    Often 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 1901.

    The 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 connections.

    There is a period after Smith and Hume and before James when philosophy in English is not quite 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 seeing.

    If 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 idealism.

    One 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 discourse.

    The 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 more precise interest in philosophy.

    The 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 ground.

    The 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 equally 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 Encyclopedia.

    But this should not put you off. First of all, it should get you wanting to know more and send you off to do more 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 relationships.

    Most histories keep their philosophers isolated and try too hard to explain what it was precisely that they thought. This history may be more 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 flowed.

    You may still need to read a more 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 new.

    It 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 right.

    And Ree is very good indeed at evoking the personalities of philosophers. You are under the illusion quite quickly that you know them enough to like or dislike them. In general, I found the 'greater' the philosopher, the more 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 more rather than less interesting for this.

    Because 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 account.

    To 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 Transcendentalists.

    We 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 century.

    Ree is also open-minded about the occasional breakthroughs into the elite mainstream of working class thinkers even if he has virtually nothing of consequence to say about the development of English Marxism. Where women are rare actors in the game, they are introduced well and fairly.

    Those 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 philosophy.

    He 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 obvious.

    One 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 variants.

    It 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 quickly 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 more about the missed bits and complexities - and so I recommend it.

  6. 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”).

  7. says:

    Thanks to Yale University Press for the Sample Chapter ARC at BEA 2019!

    I 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 book.

    Ree 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 more complex and requires 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 question 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!

  8. says:

    This is an excellent history with a unique approach and some interesting choices of protagonists. There is an oversampling of quotations, which can make the book feel long-winded; however, there are enough juxtapositions of philosophers and ideas to make the loquacity worth enduring.

  9. says:

    Across 700 pages of erudite and stylish prose, Jonathan Rée has written a very interesting and unique tome on the history of philosophy in the English language. This is a satisfying blend of analysis of ideas, influence, historical context, and the personal motivations that drove many familiar faces in philosophy but also many from the worlds of psychology, literature and religion.

    As such, some of the most interesting material in the book comes in an analysis of literary figure Mary Ann Evans (better known by her pen-name of George Eliot) as well as essayist and critic William Hazlitt. There are very fine sections on professional philosophers especially that on Hume, however some of these have been better treated elsewhere, at least as pertains to their contributions, but the analysis of their biography and its role on their work is quite superior in Rée's work. I was very pleased to be introduced to figures I had genuinely never heard of like Thomas Davidson and the Glenmore school.

    Figures like William James are given great prominence where other histories of philosophy ignore him mainly due to the fact that his prominence has been most historically noted in psychology. His force and revolutionary workings in the area of religion and the role of philosophy are greatly dealt with as are his influence on John Dewey and his detractors such as Russell.

    The most substantive section of the work deals with the so-called Cambridge school of the early 20th century and the trifecta of influence and disagreement that existed between Moore, Russell, and Wittgenstein. This work being a single volume by a single author, you of course expect a certain amount of bias and picking favorites and it is no secret here that Rée favors Wittgenstein, however he still does a fine job assessing the work of these three, the substance of their influence and disagreement with one another, the effect of their personal dealings on their professional work, and the lasting significance, if any, of their work.

    While this is not easy reading by any means, I would definitely recommend it to those who have already pursued similar histories dealing with a broader swath of philosophers that have been put forth by Bertrand Russell and more recently A.C. Grayling. This volume is entirely focused on those philosophers working in the English language but Rée allows many non-traditional names into his catalogue of, philosophers of the English language.

  10. says:

    fuck yes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *