Book Review – Philosophy, an Illustrated History of Thought

Philosophy coverIn this large format book (9.5″x11″) author Tom Jackson distills the essence of thought from great philosophers as they consider the “Ponderables” of life. The book contains 100 chapters of one-half to two pages each in a chronological exploration of philosophy. The book includes a separate, 24-page chart illustrating the history of thought (see first page of the chart at the end of this review below). This is a good reference work that allows you to get to the crux of the matter quickly.



The book covers all the classical philosophers who asked questions such as:

What is real? Leads us to Metaphysics: The Study of Existence

What can be known? Leads us to Epistemology: The Study of Knowledge

What should I do? Leads us to Ethics: The Study of Action

What is allowed and disallowed? Leads us to Politics: The Study of Society

What can life be like? Leads us to Aesthetics: The Study of Art

The book also explores some more-modern and unusual questions, some not usually included in works on the history of philosophy.

Chapter 45 examines “Feminism”.

Chapter 51 examines “Evolution by Natural Selection.”

Chapter 64 is “Schrodinger’s Cat” wherein a physicist creates a thought experiment to study a paradox on quantum theory.

Chapter 80 examines “Many Worlds Theory” how every effect has a cause.

Chapter 95 examines the “Gaia hypothesis – is it religion or science?”

Chapter 98 is titled “Philosophical Zombies” which examines perceptions.

Beyond the 100 chapters, the book gives a short definition of the various schools of philosophy. This book is entertaining and informative. I shall refer to it often.

I have enjoyed and reviewed two other books in Jackson’s “Ponderables” series:

The Elements, an Illustrated History of the Periodic Table

Physics, an Illustrated History of the Foundations of Science

Two other books in the series (which I have not read) are:

Mathematics, An Illustrated History of Numbers.

The Universe, An Illustrated History of Astronomy

Tom Jackson, is a science writer with over 80 books to his credit. He studied zoology at the University of Bristol, U.K. where he resides.

Philosophy is published by Shelter Harbor Press, New York. The book is available from Amazon and from Barnes & Noble.

Philosophy foldout