Will Durant's The Story Of Philosophy

786 words - 4 pages

William James Durant, a prominent American author, historian and philosopher, published The Story of Philosophy in 1926. He thought of philosophy as an all-encompassing study and endeavored the unification and humanization of all historical knowledge, which had grown too vast and had become infinitely categorized into miniscule specialties, in order to vitalize it for modern day use. Durant was a gifted writer of magnificent prose and also a storyteller who had harvested an incredible readership. His brilliant writing, which, rather than being dull, formal academic jargon, is witty and colorful, even catering to the senses. Durant’s publisher, Max Schuster, remarked that Durant's writing pleaded “to be read aloud”; it was also remarked that Durant’s fluid technique resulted in "prose so beautiful it rivals poetry.”
Durant’s profoundly varied studies culminated in his authoring of a book that concerned the universal history of human philosophy. What inspired the fantastic scholar Plato to plant his novel notions into the mind of Aristotle, and what led the resultant influence of Aristotle to impact Alexander the Great? This is one of the innumerable gems of history covered in Durant’s manuscript The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers. One of the most striking aptitudes of Durant’s work of historiography is its quality of identifying numerous celebrated western philosophers and providing psychological profiles for these figures, thereby describing their teachings and thoughts applicable to the metaphysical world. Such men were absolute geniuses and influenced the totality of humankind’s sentiments in such a way as to irrevocably alter the course of history, either for the better or worse.
In his acclaimed, revolutionary piece, Will Durant expounds upon these most dynamic philosophers in the following order: Plato, Aristotle, Sir Francis Bacon, Baruch Spinoza, Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, and Friedrich Nietzsche. The final two chapters are then ascribed to European and American philosophers, respectively. The first nine chapters focus solely on one philosopher each with few exceptions of overlap between such titanic intellectuals; Durant performs a well-developed transition between philosophers, therefore illustrating the gradual progression of ideologies with respect to temporal advancement and societal development, each individual thinker’s insights contributing to an utterly unique paradigm shift. Additionally, Durant provides his readers with an informative discourse of various periods...

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