Tim Whitmarsh

In Defence of Reason

The History of Philosophy


Viking 681pp £26 order from our bookshop

A C Grayling has carved out a niche not only as a lucid and accessible interpreter of philosophy for the general reader but also as a passionate advocate for the role that it can and should play in our lives. Above all, he has argued (in The Good Book, The God Argument and The Age of Genius) that philosophy offers an antidote to religion, which he sees as befuddling the wits and rendering us vulnerable to manipulation by the malign. Fans see him as a defender of rationality in an age of intellectual confusion; critics accuse him of an obsessive animus against religion and of buying too readily into an outmoded mythology of the Enlightenment. I doubt anyone has ever charged him, however, with fence-sitting, dullness or excessive diffidence. The History of Philosophy, with its echo of Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy, joins a roster of similarly boldly titled books on similarly bold themes.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,