Good single volume history of philosophy?
#1
I'm aware of Copleston's 11 volume history of philosophy, but I am not interested in that level of depth right now. Any single volume introduction anybody can recommend? It would be best if the author is Catholic.
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#2
Anthony Kenny's An Illustrated Brief History of Western Philosophy looks very good.  I haven't read it though, and I don't think he's Catholic; although he used to be a Thomist in his younger years.  Hamlyn is another option, again not Catholic.  Incidentally, this gives me an idea for a book!
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#3
The two classic introductions, I suppose, would be Will Durant's Story of Philosophy and A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell; both have their strengths, but I'd steer clear of Russell's work unless your interest is Bertrand Russell.

My personal favorite is From Socrates to Sartre: The Philosophic Quest by TZ Lavine. It was this work that first turned me on to philosophy in high school. After you've found an introduction, a good next step would be to secure a volume along the lines of Monroe Beardsley's The European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche to get your feet wet in the texts themselves.
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#4
I second steering clear of Russell's "History".  Certainly avoid it as your first introduction to the subject.  Also, From Socrates to Sartre is very good, but I didn't recommend it because I didn't think it was comprehensive enough.  She really only talks about a handful of thinkers and skips many of the seminal ones.  Finally, while I agree that you should eventually start reading the texts themselves (the sooner the better), it is my opinion that you should begin with Plato's Dialogues.

P.S. I don't remember: was Durant a Catholic?
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#5
Thanks for the recommendations.

Durant was brought up a Catholic:

"It is a fascinating but difficult subject, for almost every word that one may write about it can be disputed or give offense. I have tried to be impartial, though I know that a man's past always colors his views, and that nothing else is so irritating as impartiality. The reader should be warned that I was brought up a fervent Catholic, and that I retain grateful memories of the devoted secular priests, and learned Jesuits, and kindly nuns, who bore so patiently with my brash youth. But he should note, too, that I derived much of my education from lecturing for 13 years in a Presbyterian Church under the tolerant auspices of sterling Protestants like Jonathan C. Day, William Adams Brown, Henry Sloane Coffin and Edmund Chaffee, and that many of my most faithful auditors in that Presbyterian Church were Jews, whose search for education and understanding gave me a new insight into their people. Less than any other man have I excuse for prejudice, and I feel for all faiths the warm sympathy of one who has come to learn that even the trust in reason is a precarious faith, and that we are all fragments of darkness groping for the sun. I know no more about the ultimates than the simplest urchin in the streets." - http://www.willdurant.com/bio.htm
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#6
If you can find it, Thonnard's "Short History of Philosophy."

Extremely thorough, about 1000 pages. I don't know if it's still in print anywhere, though, but I definitely recommend it.


http://www.amazon.com/history-philosophy...B0007IUPJG
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#7
(07-21-2009, 03:36 PM)JonW Wrote: Also, From Socrates to Sartre is very good, but I didn't recommend it because I didn't think it was comprehensive enough.  She really only talks about a handful of thinkers and skips many of the seminal ones.  Finally, while I agree that you should eventually start reading the texts themselves (the sooner the better), it is my opinion that you should begin with Plato's Dialogues.

This is true. As I hinted, my choice of the work is largely sentimental; but I also think the author does an admirable job giving character to the ideas of a few of the heavyweights, not to mention FSTS is one of the more engaging introductions out there. You're probably correct about starting out w/ Plato. My choice would be a little more idiosyncratic: Berkeley's Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues; I always recommend Berkeley's works as a jumping-off point because here you have a set of philosophically provocative theses (however mistaken*) married to texts which are small masterpieces of prose in their own right; they also work as crafty introductions to the English empiricist tradition.

*see A.C. Grayling's Berkeley: the Central Arguments for a recent attempt to retool a few of these arguments and resurrect aspects of his work having live philosophical interest.  
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#8
http://www2.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/hop.htm  History of Philosophy by William Turner, S.T.D.
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#9
The one book that got me really interested in philosophy (though I still don't know much) was Santayana's "Reason in Common Sense", because he talked in a very practical and sure-footed way about all the "biggies", and had interesting arguments of his own, which I always prefer to attempts at objective summaries etc, because objective summaries are always dishonest at some level. His ideas about the Greeks and the Empiricists in particular really got me thinking, which is what philosophy's mainly about, and I think most philosophy outside of those guys is either some kind of tangent from them or just so much sophistry, as far as I can figure.
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#10
(07-21-2009, 06:11 PM)stvincentferrer Wrote: Durant was brought up a Catholic:
And retrurned to the Church and received the Last Sacraments on his deathbed, IIRC.
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