Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English

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Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English
An ambitious new history of philosophy in English that broadens the canon to include many lesser-known figures

"[This] lively chronicle of philosophy in English is a splendid accomplishment sufficient unto itself. Highly intelligent, always even-handed, quietly but consistently witty, Witcraft is an excellent guide along the twisted and tricky path of human thought."--Wall Street Journal

Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote that "philosophy should be written like poetry." But philosophy has often been presented more prosaically as a long trudge through canonical authors and great works. But what, Jonathan Rée asks, if we instead saw the history of philosophy as a haphazard series of unmapped forest paths, a mass of individual stories showing endurance, inventiveness, bewilderment, anxiety, impatience, and good humor?

Here, Jonathan Rée brilliantly retells this history, covering such figures as Descartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Mill, James, Frege, Wittgenstein, and Sartre. But he also includes authors not usually associated with philosophy, such as William Hazlitt, George Eliot, Darwin, and W. H. Auden. Above all, he uncovers dozens of unremembered figures--puritans, revolutionaries, pantheists, feminists, nihilists, socialists, and scientists--who were passionate and active readers of philosophy, and often authors themselves. Breaking away from high-altitude narratives, he shows how philosophy finds its way into ordinary lives, enriching and transforming them in unexpected ways.

Publication Date: 
October 20, 2020