a little history of philosophy


A Little History of Philosophy
by Nigel Warburton

Random line: A human being can choose what to do, what to become. We are all free. No one but you can decide what you make of your life. If you let other people decide how you live, that is, again, a choice. It would be a choice to be the kind of person other people expect you to be. (Chapter 33)

art student step 1= doing paintings, thinking of expanding into new media, focusing on locking down some formal skills, possible interest in collage and encaustics

art student step 2 = lots of writing, interest in video and experimental performance, feeling trapped by creating actual images or things, research 

art student step 3 = production at a standstill after your sophomore year gallery show, lots of art historical reading, dank art memes

art student step 4 = everything gets gayer for you at this impasse, you almost HAVE to be a little gay to reach this step, basically an art history/philosophy major at this point, existential crisis and peer envy combined with a sense of superiority as your research leads you to a deeper understanding of what art is

art student step 5 = hell, and/or derrida. weed. artist’s block, shitty essays, and ego death.

art student step 6 = emergence from the total shattering of your dreams and personality with an outpouring of new work that is at once much more informed and less self-conscious, buying slightly more expensive booze, knowing all 20 people at a gallery opening, letters of recommendation from trusted mentors but probably just as many letters of rejection from residences 

art student step 7 = final form. either you become one of those ladies with red cat-eye glasses and 4 feet of hair who smokes a lot of cigarettes, knows everyone, and never leaves town to work on her own career, or you go for that shit and get weird with it. don’t do cocaine during any of these steps. 

It wrinkles my brain to think of how ancient the Earth is. All of recorded human history makes up less than 0.000001% of Earth’s history… That’s like if you had an Olympic-sized swimming pool and all that was left in it was a teardrop that fell from your cheek because of how overwhelmed you felt about the vastness of the cosmos. That little, salty, shitty tear is all of human history.


“But children grow up too, and they too must learn from history how easy it is for human beings to be transformed into inhuman beings through incitement and intolerance.”

— from A Little History of the World by E H Gombrich

titles by Yale University Press now available at BooksActually :

~ A Little History of the World by E H Gombrich
~ A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
~ A Little History of Science by William Bynum
~ A Little Book of Language by David Crystal

“Descartes sets out in his quest for certainty by thinking first about the evidence that comes through the senses: seeing, touching, smelling, tasting and hearing. Can we trust our senses? Not really, he concluded. The senses sometimes trick us. We make mistakes. Think about what you see. Is your sight reliable about everything? Should you always believe your eyes?

A straight stick put in water seems bent if you look at it from the side. A square tower in the distance might look round. We all occasionally make mistakes about what we see. And, Descartes points out, it would be unwise to trust something that has tricked you in the past. So he rejects the senses as a possible source of certainty. He can never be sure that his senses aren’t tricking him. They probably aren’t most of the time, but the faint possibility that they might be means he can’t completely rely on them. But where does that leave him?”

— Nigel Warburton, A Little History of Philosophy


Also in the series, David Crystal’s A Little Book of Language & E H Gombrich’s A Little History of the World

Gift Ideas for Christmas 2012 № 13 :

for the SMART ALEC —

A Little History of Philosophy
by Nigel Warburton


Philosophy begins with the nature of reality and how we should live. These were the concerns of Socrates, who spent his days in the ancient Athenian marketplace asking awkward questions, disconcerting the people he met by showing them how little they genuinely understood.

This engaging history introduces the great thinkers in Western philosophy and explores their most compelling ideas about the world and how best to live in it. In forty brief chapters, Nigel Warburton guides us on a tour of the major ideas in the history of philosophy. He provides interesting and often quirky stories from the lives and deaths of thought-provoking philosophers - from the ancients, who debated freedom and the spirit, to Peter Singer, who asks the disquieting philosophical and ethical questions that haunt our own times.