The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
By Will Buckingham, Douglas Burnham, Peter J. King, Clive Hill, Marcus Weeks, John Marenbon

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Product Description

An essential introduction to the history, concepts, and thinking behind philosophy that demystifies what can often be daunting subject matter, laid out in DK's signature visual style.

Are the ideas of René Descartes, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes still relevant today? The Philosophy Book unpacks the writings and ideas of more than 100 of history's biggest thinkers, taking you on a journey from Ancient Greece to modern day. Explore feminism, rationalism, idealism, existentialism, and other influential movements in the world of philosophy.

From Socrates to Confucius to Julia Kristeva, The Philosophy Book breaks down difficult concepts using innovating graphics that pop off the page alongside creative typography. Cutting through the haze of academia and untangling complicated theories to show how our social, political, and ethical ideas are formed, The Philosophy Book contextualizes the information around time periods, innovative thinkers, method, and philosophical approach.

With graphics, clear writing, a philosopher directory, and a vocabulary glossary, The Philosophy Book is a perfect and comprehensive introduction to a complicated and fascinating subject.

Series Overview: Big Ideas Simply Explained series uses creative design and innovative graphics, along with straightforward and engaging writing, to make complex subjects easier to understand. These award-winning books provide just the information needed for students, families, or anyone interested in concise, thought-provoking refreshers on a single subject.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #7791 in Books
  • Brand: Dorling Kindersley Publishing Staff
  • Published on: 2011-01-17
  • Released on: 2011-01-17
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 9.63" h x 1.06" w x 8.06" l, 2.60 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 352 pages


  • The Philosophy Book

Editorial Reviews


"[The Big Ideas Simply Explained books] are beautifully illustrated with shadow-like cartoons that break down even the most difficult concepts so they are easier to grasp. These step-by-step diagrams are an incredibly clever learning device to include, especially for visual learners." –

"This graphically lively presentation, which also features color reproductions, colorfully framed pull quotes, photos, and a variety of fonts, offers students an overview of the ideas and concepts generated by people who have spent their lives "wondering about the world." – School Library Journal

"In The Philosophy Book, the ideas and thoughts of more than one hundred of the most influential philosophers from the ancient world through today are presented in a succinct, yet highly readable, format. From all corners of the world and from different traditions and approaches to philosophy and the art of reasoning, the contributors to this excellent book highlight the impact of each philosopher on his society and how it affected the development of subsequent ideas. Students of philosophy or those interested in human thought will thoroughly enjoy this book. This volume is an excellent addition to a general philosophy collection." – Voice of Youth Advocate/VOYA Magazine

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

177 of 186 people found the following review helpful.
2Love the book, not the "ebook"
By Amazon Customer
I purchased the hardcopy of this book a year ago and enjoy using it as a resource for the class I teach. However, I wish I had read the one review about this Kindle edition. They were correct, you cannot enlarge or highlight the text. If you have a 7 inch tablet or smart phone, you can forget trying to read the text. This ebook will not even open on the Kindle desktop app so that I can put it on a larger screen. I gave it two stars mainly because I do like the book itself, but the inability to read this as true ebook is a huge frustration.

I too would like to get a refund for this purchase. Is that possible?

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
4Good comprehensive overview.
By jlw
Synopsis of the history of philosophical thought through the ages. Introductions to many lesser know thought leaders who have impacted society and other philosophers. Categorizes each idea/philosopher and cross-references to others with similar or opposing ideas so one can easily do further research into any particular idea. Also good as a reference source for a quick review of a particular idea.

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
4This Book Offers One Possible Framework
By Pretend Person
This book offers one possible framework for organizing the history of philosophy. The method chosen here is to organize the corpus around individual philosophers. This method is necessarily biographical in nature and is the simplest approach to take. It is much easier to present biographical information rather than philosophical perspective. Other possible methods by which to frame this corpus of thought include organizing it around philosophical ideas, or schools of thought, or branches of philosophy, or from a purely historical perspective.

However, the methodology taken here works as presented. It combines approachable prose and creative artwork with contextual points of reference and helpful supplemental information. However, these attributes are achieved at the price of simplification, perhaps over simplification in some respects. With a project of this scope, there is the ever present risk of reducing philosophical ideas to clichés. Each essay starts with a tag line offered as a paradigm summary of each philosopher’s thought or body of work. This is at once the greatest virtue and the greatest vice of this book. Each opening statement temptingly offers a nice tag line or paradigm summary that is easy to get a hold of and commit to memory but herein awaits the danger of reducing philosophy to a series of clichés. The intellectual history of the human race cannot be reduced to a series of clichés though the lure of this temptation is as obvious as it is forgivable.

The problem with short paradigm summaries, tag lines and clichés is not that they necessarily contain false ideas, but rather that they are superficial articulations of more profound or deeper ideas. They fool us into thinking that we know more than we really do. There are dimensions of thought that are missing from formula summaries and simple clichés. Philosophy does not fit nicely into simple formulas expressed in neat summaries. Easy tag line summary give us a notion of philosophical thought at variance with actual philosophical thought. Our intellectual patrimony is more atypical and the intellectual world itself is a much deeper place than can be expressed in tag lines no matter how catchy those tag lines are found to be.

With these cautions in mind, this book provides a very nice introduction to an older teen or young adult audience with an interest in philosophy and an ambition to take their study further. The book is worth the modest price given the content as well as the fun and color presentation.

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