A History of Western Philosophy
Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy serves as the perfect introduction to its subject; it remains unchallenged as the greatest account of the history of Western thought. Charting philosophy’s course from the pre-Socratics up to the early twentieth century, Russell relates each philosopher and school to their respective historical and cultural contexts, providing erudite commentary throughout his invaluable survey. This engaging and comprehensive work has done much to educate and inform generations of general readers; it is written in accessible and elegantly crafted prose and allows for an easy grasp of complex ideas.
The Decline of the West
Since its first publication in two volumes between 1918-1923, The Decline of the West has ranked as one of the most widely read and most talked about books of our time. A twentieth-century Cassandra, Oswald Spengler thoroughly probed the origin and “fate” of our civilization, and the result can be (and has been) read as a prophesy of the Nazi regime. His challenging views have led to harsh criticism over the years, but the knowledge and eloquence that went into his sweeping study of Western culture have kept The Decline of the West alive. The Decline of the West remains essential reading for anyone interested in the history of civilization.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a landmark in intellectual history which has attracted attention far beyond its own immediate field. Its author, Thomas S. Kuhn, wastes little time on demolishing the logical empiricist view of science as an objective progression toward the truth. Instead he erects from ground up a structure in which science is seen to be heavily influenced by nonrational procedures, and in which new theories are viewed as being more complex than those they usurp but not as standing any closer to the truth. Science is not the steady, cumulative acquisition of knowledge that is portrayed in the textbooks. Rather, it is a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions . . . in each of which one conceptual world view is replaced by another.