Already a classic in its first year of publication, this landmark study of Western thought takes a fresh look at the writings of the great thinkers of classic philosophy and questions many pieces of conventional wisdom. From the pre-Socratic philosophers such as Empedocles, whose account of the cosmos seems "a mixture of the physics of Stephen Hawking and the romantic novels of Barbara Cartland," through the celebrated days of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, up to Renaissance visionaries like Erasmus and Bacon, "philosophy" emerges here as a phenomenon unconfined by any one discipline. Indeed, as Gottlieb explains, its most revolutionary breakthroughs in the natural and social sciences have repeatedly been co-opted by other branches of knowledge, leading to the illusion that philosophers never make any progress. From the physics of angels to Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Gottlieb builds through example and anecdote a vivid portrait of the human drive for understanding. After closing The Dream of Reason, readers will be graced with a fresh appreciation of the philosophical quest, its entertaining and bizarre byways, and its influence on every aspect of life.
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