‘A Little History of Philosophy’ by Nigel Warburton (book review)

Nigel Warburton has been a lecturer at both the University of Nottingham and the Open University, but in 2013 he decided to resign his position at the Open University and go freelance as a writer and philosophy teacher.  As far as I can gather from his tweets, Warburton is now running introductory philosophy courses in London that are open to the public.  It’s also worth mentioning that Warburton is responsible for a highly successful philosophy podcast, called Philosophy Bites, which features interviews with various contemporary philosophers.

A Little History of Philosophy offers readers a fascinating sweep through the history of philosophy.  The book is written in forty short chapters, with each chapter focusing on a different philosopher that the author feels is key to the history of philosophy.  Unsurprisingly, the book starts with the ancient Greeks, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, explaining the key ideas, methods, and life events of each philosopher.  The book then moves on to some key Christian thinkers, including Anselm and Augustine, before tackling Enlightenment philosophers, some scientists, and eventually some philosophers from the last century.

It must have been difficult for the author to choose who to leave out of the book.  I was impressed by the choice of philosophers for most of the book, but towards the end there were a few names that I must admit were new to me.  I actually enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half, and I think the key reason for this is that the philosophers covered towards the end of the book were relatively obscure.

I like Warburton’s writing style.  I firmly believe that the best philosophy is written in a clear, simple, and accessible style, and Warburton’s book achieves this.  I would recommend this book to those who are new to philosophy and looking for an overview of the subject, but also for those who are familiar with the great philosophers but are looking for a refreshing read.  My only real gripe is that I wasn’t included… 🙂

A Little History of Philosophy is available in paperback and Kindle versions, and the paperback version is currently £8.99 on Amazon.  Enjoy!

3 comments

  1. Hi Steve,

    It was good to hear from you. I agree whole-heartedly that philosophy should be written in a clear, simple, and accessible style. I think the best communicators apply these criteria to all their written and oral communications. What is the point in showing off your vocabulary to appeal only to the few privileged people who may understand it? I have my own definition of philosophy: it seeks to reveal the truths that are hidden in the fields of common life experience. Tell me what you think of it please – Dinos Constantinou

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