To philosophy newcomers, Warburton's book is a clear and entertaining introduction which spans the history of Western philosophy with ease. To students of philosophy, this book is a comforting reminder that you did learn something tangible after all, and you'll turn the pages lovingly as you recall Pascal's wager for the existence of god, Machiavelli's implacable dictation on leadership, Freud's internal examination and Descartes' ability to inspire existential angst in even the strongest-willed among us.
In forty or so short, concatenated chapters, Nigel Warburton manages to unravel strings of important thoughts and thinkers which shaped the way we think today. He begins, as any history of Western philosophy is want to do, with Socrates, and despite the painfully few females in the later pages, neatly ends with Peter Singer.
Chapter header illustration in A Little History of Philosophy
The intellectual bibliographies are simply written and overflowing with examples and metaphors which make clear the often complex theories within. This can become repetitive as Warburton has clearly chosen a formula and doesn't show any signs of deviating from it as you progress from chapter to chapter, making it somewhat uncomfortable to read in full. However, if you are looking to begin your experience with the chewy science of philosophy in a few snippets, A Little History of Philosophy ought to be among your book collection.
A Little History of Philosophy is one of many of Nigel Warburton's introductory guides to philosophy. It retails for about $20.95 and is available both in stores and online.