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Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud

Ideas A History of Thought and Invention from Fire to Freud Peter Watson s hugely ambitious and stimulating history of ideas from deep antiquity to the present day from the invention of writing mathematics science and philosophy to the rise of such concepts

  • Title: Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud
  • Author: Peter Watson
  • ISBN: 9780060935641
  • Page: 375
  • Format: Paperback
  • Peter Watson s hugely ambitious and stimulating history of ideas from deep antiquity to the present day from the invention of writing, mathematics, science, and philosophy to the rise of such concepts as the law, sacrifice, democracy, and the soul offers an illuminated path to a greater understanding of our world and ourselves.

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    1 thought on “Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud

    1. I have finally finished this tome. Over the 18-months it took to read I have from time to time added précis to this review, but now I have finished I have removed them. This book is a thousand pages of dense reading and nothing best summarizes its magnificence than the quotations from the fronts-piece:There are no whole truths;.All truths are half-truths.It is trying to treat them asWhole truths that plays the devil.(Alfred North Whitehead, Dialogues. 1953.)While it may be hard to live with gen [...]

    2. Ideas by Peter Watson Wow! It doesn't get more ambitious than this. This is a book about the history of ideas. How can anyone tackle such an ambitious topic in one book? Well, somehow someway Peter Watson does exactly that. The author jumps from one interesting topic to another with mastery: language, science, weaponry, religion, society, economics, inventions, music It was an investment in knowledge. An investment that pays off at the end. I can't remember the last time, I've learned so much fr [...]

    3. Second review (finished 1/27/2013)I read this book off and on during 2012 and the first part of 2013. It was even better the second time I read it.March-ish I took a few days off from life and checked into a spa in Sonoma, and this was the only book I brought to read in between massages and soaking in spring water. Come to think of it, this is probably the one book I would bring to a desert island if I had to limit it to one book.Then October-ish I picked it up again and started re-reading the s [...]

    4. What a tome ! Weight wise, content wise, scope wise and depth wise. I don't remember when was last that I read a book which had so much to offer each page crammed with insights, facts, analysis that reading 3 pages in one go satiates the mind. The book of 'ideas' defines the 'ideas' since the birth of mankind and civilisation, as broadly as one can: as the sub title says ' a history of thought and invention, from fire to freud'. The sheer expanse of ideas explored and the depth of this explorati [...]

    5. If someone asked me what the greatest book I've ever read was, I'd tell them I didn't want to answer that question, but if pressed, this would be it. Boorstin's The Discoverers got me interested in what they call 'Intellectual History', but this book cemented it as my number one sub-field of history. I will now read any book I find described as such, and I have Peter Watson to blameank.Let me put it another way: an ex-girlfriend got this book for me as a christmas gift. It was probably the best [...]

    6. Ambicioso ensayo que no llega a germinar: este libro no es la historia de las ideas de la humanidad, sino de Peter Watson. Se trata de una exposición de las principales corrientes de pensamiento de la humanidad, desde un prisma progresista, nihilista, antioccidental y anglocéntrico. No obstante, el estilo es brillante: de un párrafo a otro, el fluir del texto es increíble, a pesar de sus más de mil páginas.

    7. My rating for this book reflects how much I enjoyed it. I am conscious of my own limited knowledge to be really able to say whether this is the history of ideas it sets out to be - but at the very least it is an excellent piece of writing based on an almost inconceivably wide set of sources. This is a huge book, and if you love to think broadly then definitely worth the investment in time to read.There are a couple of niggles - it does seem to have a bias to western European orientated ideas and [...]

    8. I'm sure even 700+ pages on the history of human ideas does not complete the entire picture, but this book does a fantastic job of putting civilization in perspective. Ideas is full of fantastic conversation material, and illustrates history not just by highlighting particular dates and wars, but by explaining the various sea changes along the timeline of human progress. While reading, I felt strangely connected to my fellow humans with the sense that 'we're all in this together' - and also real [...]

    9. Content-wise, it's fantastic; incredible that one person could write such an exhaustive treatment. It's a true intellectual history, not just a history of philosophy--where philosophy affects everyday thought, it's covered, where it doesn't, it's merely acknowledged. It also presents a compelling thesis about the most important ideas and defends it well, but resists oversimplification. The only problem is that, while I can't say it's badly written, it certainly required a lot of re-reading. Obsc [...]

    10. A good survey with some of the latest data and analysis. Not a bad book all-in-all but not enlighteningI've read most of this in other books over the yearsbut this is a survey piece so that should be expected. I was never, genuinely, engaged by the book but don't have anything bad to say about it. I believe this is a book for younger readers (20 somethings) that have not spent a lifetime reading. For them there would be lots of interesting directions to pursue in the future but for those, such a [...]

    11. This book looked a bit too academic for me when I first saw some copies sold in various bookstores in Bangkok some years ago. Then I decided to read it because of its title concerned with 'A History from Fire to Freud', therefore, I think I should know and understand more from what Peter Watson searched and wrote for his readers to try reading on our intellectual developments in the East and the West. I like this part in the Author's Note (p. xix): In a work such as Ideas it is comforting to thi [...]

    12. I borrowed this book from the library as an e-book. Much of what I read in it varied from interesting to fascinating. It was a slow read partly because of the length. But I did have trouble following the flow as the general impression for me was that it jumped around. It was generally chronological and within any particular sub-topic it gave me plenty of things to think about in the evolution of ideas. Purely for the material I would give it 5 stars but I had to check it outat least five times f [...]

    13. I've never been big on reading history, but this book is different. Well documented with the best current sources from many different disciplines. Where there are differing theories about a given topic The book explains them, points out the dominant ones, and leaves the conclusions to the reader. I read the book cover to cover. I keep a copy on my current e reader to refer back to when a particular political, philosophical, or theological discussion comes up and triggers a new thought.I also pur [...]

    14. Literary Merit: 2.95 starsSister and I got this ages ago, ( I am writing a review now, detailed review will be updated soon) upon recommendations. It is well composed, interesting and well written, I began to like this as I read along the different chapters and then I began to realize that it is heavily opinionated. The author has led his beliefs on religiosity, God and politics come in between when narrating history and thus the value neutrality of this texts finishes right there. If you really [...]

    15. In spite of its writing style, which is so academic that I have to underline or highlight to keep myself paying attention, this is a truly exciting book, as ambitious as the title implies.I read it in bursts --between fiction and poetry reads--because it's too heavy to retain the information if I put in long stretches. If you liked, you could read just the parts that interested you-- though to some extent each chapter builds on the one before.

    16. Have made it to part two and now on chapter five, 'Sacrifice, Soul, Saviour: the spritual breakthrough'. This book reminds me of everything I loved about uni when I was seventeen. I'm being escorted through the millenia by a gentleman and a scholar, getting a little window into the mysteries of how we came to be who we are today, and nourishing a little dream of academia.

    17. Took me a long time to get through this book, but it gives a very thorough account of the history of the world by considering the history of ideas and the human intellectual development. If you're just interested in world history, then Guns, Germs and Steel might be a better start. If you want to have a full account of how human thought and culture developed, this is an excellent book.

    18. You can't finish this. The only possible thing to do is to stop in some moment. This is history non-fiction as hardcore as it gets.

    19. The part I value the most about this book, is how it enables you to grasp the livelihood of cultures' charge and the vastness of phenomena it inspirits.

    20. What more a history zealot can ask for: all in one. That's how satisfying the presence of Peter Watson's Ideas on your bookshelf feels like. It fulfills a two pronged desire of every history student: to know about the events of the past and find out why did they happen that way. This treatise is so colossal that it quenches both aforementioned thirsts. From Lucy to Gilgamesh, the reader is on a time-travel all the way back to the world of millions of years ago. One gets to meet with their ancest [...]

    21. One of the most comprehensive books I ever read. It is impossible to imagine how one author could collect this much knowledge. If you want to understand history from the perspective of thought and ideas this the best you can get. History not thought from the perspective of great men but from ideas. Why was the discovery of America so important for European thought? When was individualism discovered? Who was the last person to know everything? Do the rules of the heavens apply to the world of peo [...]

    22. I cannot deny history like this book combined with idea and innovation is just the magic I want, reading this book is like messaging the brain, it helps me to build a much more clear timeline of the past with knowledge of why.

    23. Worth a read for a overview of philosophic thought in the western cannon. Does skip over some key people with only very brief mention, e.g. Shakespeare.

    24. This is a huge book (over 1000 pages of text, not including the endnotes and indexes) dealing with one of the biggest subjects of all: the evolution of Human Ideas throughout the ages up to the 19th century CE. This might tend to put one off; but one should not succumb to this feeling.This is a masterwork of its type. The range is astonishingly extensive, and surprisingly comprehensive; the writing style easy and accessible. Watson seems to have provided us with an exhaustive compilation of just [...]

    25. Peter Watson macht in seinem monumentalen Werk vor, wie Geschichte interessant gemacht werden kann. Irgendein Ereignis der Vergangenheit ist nicht für sich selber interessant und um aus der Vergangenheit zu lernen, können wir trotzdem den größten Teil von ihr vergessen. Aber um zu verstehen, warum wir sind, wo wir sind, müssen wir die Motivationen und Antriebe unserer Vorväter, ihre Ideen, nachvollziehen. Peter Watson gibt dem interessierten Leser einen Einstieg und Leitfaden zu diesem spa [...]

    26. For me, the most important aspect of these "survey" type books is in the organization. When I accept as reasonable the organizing principles, I tend, generally speaking, to process the material much more efficiently and enjoyably. In this case, I had a little trouble buying into the notion of the building a system of thought around the three ideas of the soul, Europe and the experiment. As a result, I found parts of this book to be a bit of a slog. The flip side of this unfamiliar structure is t [...]

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