One Hundred Philosophers.

Title: One Hundred Philosophers.
Author/s: King, Peter, J.
Material type: Book.
Publisher/date: Barron’s Educational Series (2004).
Format: Paperback (192 pages).
ISBN: ISBN-10: 9780764127915, ISBN-13: 978-0764127915
Area and topic: History of philosophy and ideas.
Intended audience/ reading level: General/accessible.
Purchasing and information: 1) amazon.com 2) fishpond.co.nz
Unique and/or salient feature/s: ‘One Hundred Philosophers’ is a  very brief overview of 100 important Western philosophers. Entries range from the pre-Socratics of ancient Greece to the Analytic philosophers of the present day. The text also includes over 250 illustrations and a glossary of philosophical terms. 
Synopsis and/or additional information: The following information is sourced from the above links (see ‘Purchasing and information’) and the text.

  • ‘Each thinker is summarized in a single illustrated page, or in many instances, in a two-page spread. Each entry includes the philosopher’s birth and death dates, titles of major works, major influences, a capsule biographical sketch, and a brief summary of his or her most important ideas. In addition to philosophers in our own Western tradition, readers will find Chinese sages, including Confucius and Lao-tzu, the Indian Buddhist philosopher Ngarjuna, and thinkers representing other cultures’.
  • In addition to those already mentioned, other important names discussed are:  Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Sartre, Quine, Kuhn, Davidson … and more.
Strengths: With slick presentation (complete with illustrations), One Hundred Philosophers would make a nice coffee table book. Each entry offers  a simple and concise overview of the life and relevance of the philosopher being presented as well as a short summary of the ideas and position/s they are most known for. Secondary school students will understand the content with little difficulty and teachers may find the book helpful as a preliminary introduction to specific philosophers and their main ideas.
Limitations: Although written in chronological order, the entries are so brief and focused purely on the philosopher being discussed (and their main ideas) that there is little in the way of historical context, reflection on the relationship between the philosophers and their ideas and reference to the historical development of philosophy. Such important yet missing features could assist a deeper and richer understanding and appreciation of the positions discussed, and make clear why such positions are so interesting, significant and (in many if not most cases) quite revolutionary.

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