Author: Will Durant –
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing –
Genre: Philosophy –
Overall rating: 4/5 –
Writing: 5/5 –
Duration: 19:27 (very long) –
Narrator: Grover Gardner –
Narrator/performance: 3/5 –
Impressions: n/a –
Performance errors: 0/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 5/5 –
Audience: General, Specialized
This review refers to the 1926 book titled The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers by Will Durant. It took me months to finish listening to this work. It is actually composed of two parts easily distinguishable for a listener – the history of European philosophy and a short history of early American philosophy closer to the end. I found the second part particularly interesting.
The entire book is phenomenally well-written: “(…) the laws are the God that holds up the bridge in the hollow of his hand. Aristotle hints something of this when he says that by Ideas Plato meant what Pythagoras meant by “‘”number”, when he taught that this is a world of numbers (meaning presumably that the world is ruled by mathematical constancies and regularities). Plutarch tells us that according to Plato “God always geometrizes”; or, as Spinoza puts the same thought, God and the universal laws of structure and operation are one and the same reality. To Plato, as to Bertrand Russell, mathematics is therefore the indispensable prelude to philosophy, and its highest form; over the doors of his Academy, Plato placed, Dantesquely, these words, “Let no man ignorant of geometry enter here.”” (editing corrected from Google Books). This classic is worth a read in any form.
The audiobook was difficult to finish most probably due to the quality of reading. The narrator’s voice sounds stony with a hint of iron and the style is polished to a point where it starts to blend the content. Phrases are strangely cut into smaller pieces, some words are almost skipped over. It takes some adjusting and getting used to.
When compared to other audiobooks about philosophy, this piece of work would score quite high, despite these reservations. This is not exactly a popularization of philosophy (although it may serve as such) but a regular long-form essay. It is also almost 100 years old. The fact that it could be put into an audiobook (in 2010) confirms its universal reach and value.