Cover image for The Columbia history of Western philosophy
The Columbia history of Western philosophy
Popkin, Richard H. (Richard Henry), 1923-2005.
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 836 pages ; 26 cm
Reading Level:
1360 Lexile.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
B72 .C593 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Richard Popkin has assembled 63 leading scholars to forge a highly approachable chronological account of the development of Western philosophical traditions. From Plato to Wittgenstein and from Aquinas to Heidegger, this volume provides lively, in-depth, and up-to-date historical analysis of all the key figures, schools, and movements of Western philosophy.

The Columbia History significantly broadens the scope of Western philosophy to reveal the influence of Middle Eastern and Asian thought, the vital contributions of Jewish and Islamic philosophers, and the role of women within the tradition. Along with a wealth of new scholarship, recently discovered works in 17th- and 18th-century philosophy are considered, such as previously unpublished works by Locke that inspire a new assessment of the evolution of his ideas. Popkin also emphasizes schools and developments that have traditionally been overlooked. Sections on Aristotle and Plato are followed by a detailed presentation on Hellenic philosophy and its influence on the modern developments of materialism and scepticism. A chapter has been dedicated to Jewish and Moslem philosophical development during the Middle Ages, focusing on the critical role of figures such as Averroës and Moses Maimonides in introducing Christian thinkers to classical philosophy. Another chapter considers Renaissance philosophy and its seminal influence on the development of modern humanism and science.

Turning to the modern era, contributors consider the importance of the Kaballah to Spinoza, Leibniz, and Newton and the influence of popular philosophers like Moses Mendelssohn upon the work of Kant. This volume gives equal attention to both sides of the current rift in philosophy between continental and analytic schools, charting the development of each right up to the end of the 20th century.

Each chapter includes an introductory essay, and Popkin provides notes that draw connections among the separate articles. The rich bibliographic information and the indexes of names and terms make the volume a valuable resource.

Combining a broad scope and penetrating analysis with a keen sense of what is relevant for the modern reader, The Columbia History of Western Philosophy will prove an accessible introduction for students and an informative overview for general readers.

Author Notes

Richard H. Popkin was professor emeritus, Washington University, St. Louis, and adjunct professor of philosophy and history at UCLA. He was the founding director of the International Archives of the History of Ideas, and president emeritus and founding editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy . Among his many books are The Third Force in Seventeenth-Century Thought ; The History of Skepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza ; Introduction to Philosophy (with Avrum Stroll); and The High Road to Pyrrhonism .

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This work ranges over the whole history of Western philosophy, from the pre-Socratics to 20th-century philosophy, both analytic and continental. In doing so, moreover, it does not restrict itself merely to major philosophers but includes more than the usual few sentences ordinarily accorded minor figures. The accounts, on the whole, are accurate and clearly written, though some of those about 20th-century continental philosophy are trapped within the muddled discourse of their subject matter. Although only the sections on medieval Christian philosophy and 20th-century analytic philosophy have single authors (S.F. Brown and A. Stroll, respectively), differences in writing do not distract. The section on skepticism, as might be expected from Popkin's authority on the subject, is especially good, as are Stroll's succinct explanations of technical matters. Highly recommended for academic and large libraries.‘Robert Hoffman, York College of CUNY, Stony Brook, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This one-volume history of philosophy is aimed at the general reader, as Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy and Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy were. Popkin (emeritus, Washington Univ.) updates and improves on those venerable classics by culling articles from more than 60 specialists in the history of philosophy without sacrificing readability. Coverage of medieval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian philosophy is particularly strong, areas that are sometimes given cursory treatment by historians who move quickly from Aristotle to Descartes. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (CH, Dec'98) provides more in-depth coverage of many of the philosophers and movements covered here, but this work is arranged chronologically and is more suited to students seeking an overview treatment. Special features include essays on the possible future directions of analytic and Continental philosophy, and an epilogue that discusses the status of women in the history of philosophy and the role of the history of philosophy in the study of philosophy. Recommended for undergraduate libraries that support courses in the history of philosophy and general humanities. General readers and all student levels. M. Meola Temple University

Table of Contents

Samuel Johnson and Jonathan Edwards
List of Contributors
1 Origins of Western Philosophic Thinkingp. 1
Introductionp. 1
The Pre-Socratic Philosophersp. 6
The Sophistsp. 20
Socrates and the Socraticsp. 23
Platop. 32
Aristotlep. 52
Brief Summary of Aristotle's Writingsp. 72
Hellenistic Philosophyp. 74
Middle Platonismp. 91
Gnosticismp. 100
Plotinus and Neoplatonismp. 102
Early Jewish and Christian Uses of Philosophyp. 111
The Greek Tradition in Early Christian Philosophyp. 118
The Latin Tradition in Early Christian Philosophyp. 128
2 Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophyp. 140
Introductionp. 140
Sa'adya Gaonp. 144
Jewish and Early Muslim Neoplatonismp. 149
Abu Nasr Muhammed al-Farabip. 153
Avicennap. 157
Al-Ghazalip. 163
Philosophical Mysticism in Islamic Thoughtp. 170
Introductionp. 172
Solomon ibn Gabirolp. 173
Judah Halevip. 177
Averroesp. 183
Moses Maimonidesp. 188
Jewish Averroismp. 196
Gersonidesp. 200
Hasdai Crescas, Joseph Albo, and Isaac Abrabanelp. 204
Moses de Leon and the Zoharp. 210
Isaac Luria and the Lurianic Kabbalahp. 213
Abraham Cohen Herrerap. 215
Conclusionp. 217
3 Medieval Christian Philosophyp. 219
Early Periodp. 219
Translation and Transmission of Greek Philosophyp. 230
Bonaventurep. 244
Thomas Aquinasp. 251
Latin Averroismp. 256
Scotus and Scotismp. 261
Late Scholasticismp. 267
Realism Versus Nominalismp. 271
4 The Renaissancep. 279
Between Ockham and Descartesp. 279
Aristotelianismsp. 280
Humanismp. 292
Platonismp. 303
Doubt and Innovationp. 315
5 Seventeenth-Century Philosophyp. 329
The Sceptical Crisisp. 329
Rene Descartesp. 336
Seventeenth-Century Philosophy After Descartesp. 346
Thomas Hobbesp. 346
Blaise Pascalp. 352
The Philosophy of the Royal Society of Englandp. 358
The Kabbala denudatap. 363
The Cambridge Platonistsp. 366
Baruch de Spinozap. 373
John Lockep. 382
Nicolas Malebranchep. 389
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnizp. 396
Pierre Bayle and Bishop Huet, the Master Scepticsp. 404
Europe and Non-European Culturesp. 412
China and Western Philosophy in the Age of Reasonp. 412
6 Eighteenth-Century Philosophyp. 422
Introductionp. 422
Isaac Newtonp. 423
The Newton-Leibniz Controversyp. 431
Deismp. 437
George Berkeleyp. 445
Immaterialism in the American Coloniesp. 452
David Humep. 454
The French Enlightenmentp. 462
Christian Thomasius and Christian Wolffp. 472
Moses Mendelssohnp. 475
Thomas Reidp. 480
Scepticism Before Kantp. 487
The Berlin Academyp. 490
Immanuel Kantp. 494
Vico, Hamann, and Herderp. 502
Eighteenth-Century Racismp. 508
7 Nineteenth-Century Philosophyp. 516
Introductionp. 516
Early Sceptical, Religious, and Literary Responses to Kantian Philosophyp. 518
The Flowering of Idealismp. 524
Johann Gottlieb Fichtep. 524
F. W. J. Schellingp. 528
G. W. F. Hegelp. 533
The Turn from Idealismp. 542
Arthur Schopenhauerp. 542
Soren Kierkegaardp. 546
Ludwig Feuerbachp. 549
Karl Marxp. 552
The Problem of Values in the Late Nineteenth Centuryp. 556
Francep. 567
Nineteenth-Century British Philosophyp. 575
American Philosophy in the Nineteenth Centuryp. 587
The Beginnings of Pragmatism: Peirce, Wright, James, Roycep. 592
John Deweyp. 600
8 Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophyp. 604
Introductionp. 604
Symbolic Logicp. 606
The Logistic Thesisp. 610
The Theory of Descriptionsp. 613
Logical Positivismp. 621
Ludwig Wittgensteinp. 629
Gilbert Ryle and J. L. Austinp. 642
Karl Popper and W. V. O. Quinep. 647
Direct-Reference Theoristsp. 652
Donald Davidson and John Searlep. 655
New Directionsp. 657
9 Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophyp. 667
The Early Decades: Positivism, Neo-Kantianism, Diltheyp. 667
Husserl and Phenomenologyp. 675
Martin Heideggerp. 682
Continental Philosophy of Sciencep. 691
Existentialism and Beyondp. 698
Hermeneutics: Gadamer and Ricoeurp. 705
Continental Theistic Philosophersp. 712
Continental Philosophy: Neo-Marxismp. 721
French Feminist Philosophyp. 730
Poststructuralism: Derrida and Foucaultp. 737
Continental Philosophy at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century A1 Charles E. Scottp. 745
Epiloguep. 755
Epilogue on the History of Philosophyp. 757
History of Philosophy and Reconstructing Philosophyp. 758
Women in the History of Philosophyp. 765
Philosophy and the History of Philosophyp. 772
Index of Namesp. 779
Index of Subjectsp. 801