Great Philosophers
A Brief History
  • Publication Date: December 16, 2008
  • ISBN: 9781551119632 / 1551119633
  • 128 pages; 6" x 9"

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Great Philosophers

A Brief History

  • Publication Date: December 16, 2008
  • ISBN: 9781551119632 / 1551119633
  • 128 pages; 6" x 9"

Great Philosophers tells the story of Western philosophy through the thought of its main protagonists, the great philosophers. The narrative begins with the Presocratic philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides and ends in recent times, as each philosopher wrestles with the problems and solutions of his or her predecessors. Along the way, Jeffrey Reid provides an engaging introduction to many of the principal ideas of luminaries such as Plato, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Sartre.

Great Philosophers not only provides an ideal introduction to philosophical thought, but also an original understanding of the discipline of philosophy itself. The book aims not only to recount an important tradition, but also to reveal something about how it has affected who we are.


“Jeffrey Reid has written a stimulating introduction to a number of key figures in the history of western philosophy. He shows that philosophy, far from being a discipline of abstract argumentation, is concerned with issues of central importance to anyone interested in living a life that is fully aware of its own limitations and possibilities.” — John Burbidge, Trent University

Great Philosophers is an excellent text for use in the classroom: it is clear, accurate, and engaging in its interpretation. The selection of figures, from the Presocratics and other Greek philosophers, through Hannah Arendt and Charles Taylor, will allow students to get a good sense of the full range of thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition. I recommend it very highly.” — Robert Metcalf, University of Colorado, Denver


  • Great Philosophers: Who are they?
  1. The Presocratic Philosophers
    • Heraclitus
  1. Plato and Socrates
    • Socrates
  1. Descartes
    • Aristotle and the Medieval Schools
  1. Hobbes
  1. Rousseau
  1. Hume
  1. Kant
  1. Hegel
  1. Kierkegaard
  1. Marx
  1. Nietzsche
  1. Sartre
  1. Hannah Arendt and Charles Taylor

Jeffrey Reid is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa. His books include The Anti-Romantic: Hegel Against Ironic Romanticism (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Real Words: Language and System in Hegel (University of Toronto Press, 2007). He teaches the Great Philosophers course at the University of Ottawa.