Happy New Year! The January Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species. Discuss it now.
The February Philosophy Book of the Month is The Fourth Age by Byron Reese (Nominated by RJG.)
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I was one of the people who eagerly voted for Durant's book. I read the book years ago as a student. Upon reading it again, I realize that while this is a very good introduction to some great thinkers (and other thinkers whose importance seem to have dwindled over the decades), this book isn't really a philosophical text, but rather an inventory of the history of philosophy. That is, there are no arguments or positions in this book that connect the various chapters. For this reason, this book has made a poor choice for the book of the month. Of course, we can disagree about what he has to say about certain philosophers (Does he get Plato "right"? Does his neglect of Kant's third Critique pose a problem for the reader?) or even his choice of philosophers (no Husserl, Heidegger or Sartre?), but Durant himself does not have a *position* that the book as a whole is meant to argue for.
This book is worth reading as an introduction to philosophy, but what else can be said about it from a critical standpoint?
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I read the book years ago and also the author's books on civilization. Durant and his wife were historians, not philosophers. I distinctly remember that in Durant's final volume "The Lessons of History" he raised the question of historical laws. He answered that the only law that he recognized as a permanent feature of human reality was COMPETITION. Individuals and groups must compete!
I agree with Chinny's remarks.