The Story of Philosophy (Durant, 1926)

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The Story of Philosophy
by Will Durant

The Story of Philosophy: the Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers is a book by Will Durant that profiles several prominent Western philosophers and their ideas, beginning with Plato and on through Friedrich Nietzsche. Durant attempts to show the interconnection of their ideas and how one philosopher’s ideas informed the next. There are nine chapters each focused on one philosopher, and two more chapters each containing briefer profiles of three early 20th century philosophers.




INTRODUCTION: On the Uses of Philosophy


  1. The Context of Plato
  2. Socrates
  3. The Preparation of Plato
  4. The Ethical Problem
  5. The Political Problem
  6. The Psychological Problem
  7. The Psychological Solution
  8. The Political Solution
  9. The Ethical Solution
  10. Criticism

CHAPTER TWO: Aristotle and Greek Science

  1. The Historical Background
  2. The Work of Aristotle
  3. The Foundation of Logic
  4. The Organization of Science
  5. Metaphysics and the Nature of God
  6. Psychology and the Nature of Art
  7. Ethics and the Nature of Happiness
  8. Politics
  9. Criticism
  10. Later Life and Death

CHAPTER THREE: Francis Bacon

  1. From Aristotle to the Renaissance 
  2. The Political Career of Francis Bacon 
  3. The Essays
  4. The Great Reconstruction
    1. The Advancement of Learning 
    2. The New Organon
    3. The Utopia of Science 
  5. Criticism
  6. Epilogue


  1. Historical and Biographical
    1. The Odyssey of the Jews
    2. The Education of Spinoza
    3. Excommunication
    4. Retirement and Death
  2. The Treatise on Religion and the State
  3. The Improvement of the Intellect
  4. The Ethics
    1. Nature and God
    2. Matter and Mind
    3. Intelligence and Morals
    4. Religion and Immortality
  5. The Political Treatise
  6. The Influence of Spinoza

CHAPTER FIVE: Voltaire and the French Enlightenment

  1. Paris: Oedipe
  2. London: The Letters on the English
  3. Cirey: The Romances
  4. Potsdam and Frederick
  5. Les Délices: The Essay on Morals
  6. Ferney: Candide
  7. The Encyclopedia and the Philosophic Dictionary
  8. Écrasez l’lnfame
  9. Voltaire and Rousseau
  10. Dénouement

CHAPTER SIX: Immanuel Kant and German idealism

  1. Roads to Kant
  2. Kant Himself
  3. The Critique of Pure Reason
  4. The Critique: Transcendental Esthetic
  5. The Critique: Transcendental Analytic
  6. The Critique: Transcendental Dialectic
  7. The Critique of Practical Reason
  8. On Religion and Reason
  9. On Politics and Eternal Peace
  10. Criticism and Estimate
  11. A Note on Hegel

CHAPTER SEVEN: Schopenhauer

  1. The Age
  2. The Man
  3. The World as Idea
  4. The World as Will
    1. The Will to Live
    2. The Will to Reproduce
  5. The World as Evil
  6. The Wisdom of Life
    1. Philosophy
    2. Genius
    3. Art
    4. Religion
  7. The Wisdom of Death
  8. Criticism

CHAPTER EIGHT: Herbert Spencer

  1. Comte and Darwin
  2. The Development of Spencer
  3. First Principles
    1. The Unknowable
    2. Evolution
  4. Biology: The Evolution of Life 
  5. Psychology: The Evolution of Mind
  6. Sociology: The Evolution of Society
  7. Ethics: The Evolution of Morals
  8. Criticism
    1. First Principles
    2. Biology and Psychology 
    3. Sociology and Ethics
  9. Conclusion

CHAPTER NINE: Friedrich Nietzsche

  1. The Lineage of Nietzsche
  2. Youth
  3. Nietzsche and Wagner
  4. The Song of Zarathustra
  5. Hero-morality
  6. The Superman
  7. Decadence
  8. Aristocracy
  9. Criticism
  10. Finale

CHAPTER TEN: Contemporary European Philosophers

  1. Henri Bergson
    1. The Revolt against Materialism
    2. Mind and Brain
    3. Creative Evolution
    4. Criticism
  2. Benedetto Croce
    1. The Man
    2. The Philosophy of the Spirit
    3. What is Beauty?
    4. Criticism
  3. Bertrand Russell 
    1. The Logician
    2. The Reformer 
    3. Epilogue

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Contemporary American Philosophers


  1. George Santayana
    1. Biographical
    2. Skepticism and Animal Faith
    3. Reason in Science
    4. Reason in Religion
    5. Reason in Society
    6. Comment
  2. William James
    1. Personal
    2. Pragmatism 
    3. Pluralism
    4. Comment
  3. John Dewey
    1. Education
    2. Instrumentalism
    3. Science and Politics


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