Madsen Pirie has a new book, 101 Great Philosophers. It’s an amazingly compact account of the ideas of those who made modern thought. It’s a heroic venture, romping through the giants of Western civilization at a cracking pace which allows only 400 words on each of them. The result is a highly condensed overview of philosophy and philosophers, enough to give even a beginner a working grasp of what it’s all about, but with enough meat to interest philosophers themselves in his take on the subject.
It takes a cool analytical brain to do this (which Madsen has), and he has produced a book that will lead many into a subject they had previously only wished they knew more about. I rather think that academic philosophers will disparage it, largely because it demystifies their subject. Their careers are made by writing technical papers for each other that bear little on what philosophy can offer to our lives.
In an age when people demand condensed information they can absorb quickly, I think Madsen has produced a book that delivers the goods. Its available from Amazon, and it’s a fascinating and highly informative read.