A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell Book Review
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What’s up to all my philosophy lovers out
It’s your boy, Ian, here today to break down
Bertrand Russell’s a history of Western philosophy.
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But first, we have to talk about Bertrand
Russell, the logical positivist, the boogeyman
of early American Analytics.
In West, early 20th century American philosophy.
And this book is really good.
And when I read a historical book on Western
on philosophy or Psycho Analysis, most of
the time I want it to be biased.
I don’t want to read the Cambridge history
of Western philosophy.
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I want the biased reasoning I want.
Bertrand Russell, one of the most impactful
Maybe not and maybe not in the top ten, but
at a time.
And for all the pseudo hipsters out there
who like to read Bertrand Russell’s critiques
of Christianity, for all of them, he’s a big
figure and he drops bombs in this text.
Biased bombs and that’s what we want.
And I’m going to talk about some of the ones
I think, that fall flat on their faces and
some that I think are really good.
So I would recommend, though, if you have
never read a history of Western philosophy
that you start with Will Durant’s The Story
This book is a lot better.
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A lot better.
Will Durant is a beautiful writer.
I think one of the best writers of the 20th
century across all genres.
And he really he covers fewer people.
He covers, I think, eight or nine philosophers.
And it’s a little bit shorter and a little
bit easier Bertrand Russell, though, give
us a very historical breakdown.
And one of the shining moments of this text
is at the very start, and he breaks down all
the Greeks, the pre Socratic and of course
Aristotle Plato, Socrates, and then the philosophers
coming after them.
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And then of course the Dark Ages.
And I think that Bertrand really shines here
because a lot of people, especially if you’re
going to be reading a history of Western philosophy,
most of most of the time, like I said, two
things are happening.
You want to know Bertrand Russell’s thoughts
on all these philosophers, and he’ll give
them to you.
00:02:06:46 – 00:02:22:55
He’ll give you his biased opinion.
And then and then that’s the funny thing about
this text is this text starts to go on as
we start hitting the middle to the end.
Search 30 more to what Russell thinks instead
of what these philosophers think.
And almost to the point of like, this should
just be one of his books.
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But at the start, he really keeps it calm,
especially through the Greeks and then the
Catholic philosophers because you viewer philosopher,
you are a fan of philosophy.
You will find that there is a goldmine in
And then of course in the Catholic philosophers
Augustine and Aquinas in that whole crew.
I think that Russell really captures the Greeks
very well because at some level he has everything
to give to Plato and Aristotle, Plato and
Aristotle, and he drops a bomb, though that
really blew my mind when I was reading it,
and I kind of passed by the first time I read
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But then I just read read this for this review.
And he said that the key question, Socrates
existence and you know, Jesus is existence
We contemplate that we, you know, into us
We like to argue about that.
But I’ve never heard anyone question Socrates
I remember one time I was in this philosophy
class and very I was just going to tell the
00:03:21:41 – 00:03:41:11
She was very good looking, right?
And like all the guys, like on the first,
like in the first week, we’re just got googly
eyes about it, right?
And then we were reading it was like an ancient
Greek philosophy class.
And then she raises her hand, right?
Like on the first day we’re actually talking
in like the second week and she’s she starts
talking about Sokratis, and I’m like, Who
the fuck is Sokratis?
00:03:41:20 – 00:04:02:13
I think she’s like talking about some priests
and she’s talking about Sokratis.
And then I realized slowly among everyone
else that she’s talking about Socrates.
And anyway, that’s just a quick side.
Funny story about that.
Another time at one in the morning at a park
in Las Vegas.
And that girl ended up I feel like I felt
like liking me, but I was way too stoned to
even notice or care.
00:04:02:25 – 00:04:20:24
And at 1 a.m., at a park in Las Vegas, one
time, I was doing calisthenics crazy.
And I’m doing calisthenics in a ring workout
on the bars.
And I see this girl on a bench reading a book,
and then I’m walking by her to go back to
my car and I see a turn.
I’m like, Yo, what’s up?
What are you reading?
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And she’s reading an Einstein book.
Einstein’s book, trying to prove the theory
And I’m like, and I’m like, Why are you reading
that into my head?
I was thinking like, you’re not smart enough
to read that.
You called him Socrates, Socrates, and many
other things throughout the semester.
And then she said, Yeah, anyway.
And that was just a synchronicity but so Kratz
so Kratz is I’m going to call him right now.
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The existence is questioned by Bertrand Russell.
And he says, What do you think the reasoning
Oh, there’s always yeah, there’s really not
that much historical evidence for him.
You know, it’s a little bit far back.
The only historical evidence that we have
really is that Plato said that Socrates Socrates
existed and Socrates, Socrates.
Russell says that the only reason Plato is
the only storyteller in the world that can
make us believe that Socrates existed.
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I don’t know if they said that.
Right, but Plato is such a good writer that
he could actually make us believe that this
guy who never existed existed.
And if you think about it, if you were going
to start a movement, if you want to be remembered,
you have to have a storyline.
What is Plato without the story of Socrates
and all those different, you know, all the
stories, all of his dialogs, a lot of Plato’s
dialogs are based off of Socrates and you
need a character, you need someone to rumble
with in your dialects.
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If you think about it, it’s actually really
You always need an adversary.
The biggest selling fights in the UFC or whatever
the you need another person.
Sugar Ray Leonard in the 1990s was one of
the best boxers in the world, but no one remembers
them because he just was way too good and
he never had an adversary.
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You always need an adversary to, you know,
create numbers to great people to care.
And even though he’s not an adversary, he
was Socrates was an adversary of the surface
and Plato was thus taking the torch and fighting
not just against the surface, but against
the people that killed Socrates.
His mentor got killed.
What’s a better storyline as the philosopher
rising up out of the ashes, other than your
mentor got killed?
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That’s like some movie shit, man.
It’s so great.
I mean, Bertrand Russell come out here throwing
the shots and like I said, we really can’t
Just like how we can’t prove the historicity
really of Jesus.
And I know all my Christians out there are
going to go crazy over that, but we really
can’t because the first non-Christian source
to talk about Jesus talked about Jesus 128
years after the fact, if I have that correct.
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So really, Socrates, that really blew my mind.
I’ve never heard of that before, that calling
Socrates into question.
But if you really think about the logical
positiveness, which really in a short summary
is that truth doesn’t exist, that really objective
truth doesn’t exist.
And that’s what Bertrand Russell in the Analytic
American thought philosophers were trying
to, you know, shoot down in their own personal
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If you think about it, Aristotle and thus
Plato and thus Socrates are a big part of
The the connection, the René Descartes separation,
you know, between man and nature really starts
with the categorization than the taxonomies
in nature done by Aristotle, thus influenced
by Plato’s forms.
And we don’t have a very Heraclitus, Heraclitus
We don’t really appreciate narrow nature like
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I think Bertrand Russell has a very beautiful
section on Heraclitus, and he actually gives
You know, a lot of these Greek philosophers
when you look at their philosophy, they’re
kind of wacky, right?
Like, I don’t want to say they’re wack, but
like, oh, it’s all the elements, you know,
they don’t their ideas don’t really hold up,
but they’re like the ideas of elementary school
or middle schoolers of today.
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If they had a philosophize or things about
the world, they never knew science.
But Bertrand Russell really gives them a lot
of credit for what they thought and their
I really like that.
Unlike Will Durant that Russell shows the
evolution of thought of Western thought, and
I think he does that.
And Margaret across the whole book even with
his transgressions and his self-promotion,
he still shows that line of thinking and gives
respect to the people for what they did at
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Because what these guys were doing, these
Greek philosophers at the time was magical.
We don’t really get to experience that magic
anymore with all these nuanced wars and PhDs
and all the illiterate masses.
We don’t get to see these big breakthroughs
because no one cares anymore.
No one reads the philosophical journals anymore.
We think Slavoj Zizek is the best philosopher
of all time because once again, he’s the guy
on the board.
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He’s the side of the card.
He had a Jordan Peterson, his jacket bigger.
They had there’s an adversary, right?
That’s how they got their name out there even
But we don’t see these debates.
We don’t see philosopher debates other than
if they’re polarizing figures like those two
in the public eye anymore, because to become
a great philosopher now you have to be deeper
then can’t you have to know all of it and
then take it to the next level and to take
things to the next level.
00:08:48:21 – 00:09:22:01
During the 21st century, it’s almost like
becoming a crazy computer engine programing
You kind of get a little detached.
And in that detachment you can’t become a
That’s where I think Bertrand Russell really
And he’s like, one of that last generation
was with George Santayana saying that wrong,
Who really had a personality who had some
force, who could really come out as philosophers
and walk the walk and be like making big progress,
you know, making substantial claims of being
the top of their field and being a public
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Like I said, I’m challenging you right now.
Tell me someone that is at the top of their
field and a huge public figure right now in
terms of philosophy like a lot of these guys
are, you know, going through, you know, locked
in human Rousseau and Conte and Hegel and
Schopenhauer, you know, maybe not Marx, but.
And do we all of these people at our time
were big deals, maybe not all of them, but
you guys get what I’m saying here.
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So Russell is a really cool figure for that.
And I think that’s why his ego and his personality
comes out now and I yeah, I think it’s really
So if we move on from the Greeks, which I
think that Russell makes a once again, a very
good stab at, I think that very well worth
reading I learned a lot that a lot of these
people I will, you know, haven’t read before,
even though I considered myself I’ve read
the complete works of Plato, read a lot of
Aristotle sort of myself, pretty well versed,
taking some five philosophy classes.
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I didn’t know, you know, there were, you know,
five or six people in here I knew about but
didn’t really get the whole history on.
And I gained a new perspective on some people.
Also, like Heraclitus who I really admire
because if you look at the story of philosophy
right here, he has this really cool section
of the table of philosophical affiliations
and kind the lines of thinking.
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And if you look at Heraclitus up at the top,
it got it kind of just jumping.
He goes, Heraclitus, Marcus Aurelius, Spinoza
Schelling, Schopenhauer, or Nature.
And then Nietzsche.
If you want the path to Nietzsche, you have
to go through kind of Hegel, Schopenhauer,
You know, it’s it’s that idealism, mind you
know, for everyone who’s read it, who’s read
it, I’m assuming, you know, I’m talking about
that God, that God maybe isn’t singular, that
it’s God maybe can be multifaceted and of
many consciousnesses or just isn’t this one
thing and that’s coming from Heraclitus is
more subjective view of nature.
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But if we look at, Oh, I lost the page, oh,
no, I didn’t.
If we look at Russell Russell, we, we or like,
for instance, the Sophists, you know, inspire
Socrates, which inspired Plato and Aristotle,
then Aquinas, then Bacon, then Cont.
And then, you know, going down to James and
Dewey, these associations are really cool.
And, and Russell and I, once again, it gives
me some different perspectives.
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And when you start to understand and connect
the philosophical affiliations, that’s what’s
really good about these books that are you
going to read about Heraclitus or about all
these guys that are talked about, especially
at the start of this text?
You’re probably not going to be just judging
on your life unless you’re really into philosophy.
But and I guess I should have said this a
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One, but if your philosophy is hard philosophy,
is it a walk in the park like pop psychology,
even pop philosophy?
You once you start diving into real, full,
philosophical or psychoanalytical thought,
it’s hard because a lot of it actually builds
off of the start.
It builds off of the grease.
If you don’t understand the Greeks and you
can’t really understand the Catholic philosophers,
then you can’t.
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And then in today, if you think about like
if you read Derrida or Fusco, they’re always
talking about Plato.
Plato’s still coming up and you read Heidegger.
It’s like a response to Plato and to the idealism
in all these different people.
So it never ends.
And you to really dove into it, you don’t
really know where to start.
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And starting at the start with the Greeks
can be really hard and working away all the
way through it.
So philosophy can be hard, but something that
you can do is that you can get inspired, you
can learn the stories that you love and become
That’s what I did first with these two books,
and especially with the story philosophy.
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I read all the authors, at least a couple
of their works.
I learned about it now in the in that book
because all of them have a great personal
story also that will their aunt tells well.
So now if we move on to the classic philosophers
more, you know, mid, middle of the floor,
philosophical around medieval philosophers
and earlier than not Aquinas, Augustine, surprisingly,
once again, I read this book a couple of years
00:13:01:06 – 00:13:22:48
I felt way more versed in philosophy.
Now, Russell, I when you know, you read Russell
you know knowing Russell you expect him to
attack them, you expect him to attack these
But he does it because they take it to the
They are monks they are in the game.
They are doing the, the hard work of taking
and remixing Plato and the Greeks because
nobody did it.
00:13:23:07 – 00:13:43:26
Nobody for hundreds of years took it all to
the next level.
You can’t start from nothing.
That’s what people don’t realize, that you
can’t start from nothing, that you have to
start and stand yet to climb up the mountain,
then stand on the shoulders of the greats
and then, you know, be the next pillar in
the in the chain of thought if you want to
be great or to understand what is going on.
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And that’s what Russell really does because
he gives praise.
And that’s something that we a lot of people
in philosophy now suck in.
If you’re listening to that right now, you
have to give praise.
You have to be positive about all philosophers,
all writers, all people, even if you disagree
with them, even if you think they’re a jerk
or crazy or a jerk, you have to or they’re
00:14:01:42 – 00:14:21:43
You have to give them like if you hate communists
and you can’t give praise to Karl Marx, and
you’re just not a deep thinker because you
don’t realize that that had to happen.
Communism and Marxism had to happen.
Maybe not in the way that happened, but the
philosophy had to manifest from the path and
trajectory that excuse me, philosophy got
started on these things.
00:14:21:48 – 00:14:41:23
Once you understand, it’s all just cause and
effect at some level.
And you can’t be angry about it because if
you’re angry about it, you don’t understand
the power of it.
If you can’t sit and understand Marx, you
can’t understand the last 70 years of philosophy,
you’re going to be stuck back with Russell
you’re not going to understand the post-modernist
and all the crazy stuff happening in philosophy
now, even if things are all just a bunch of
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And it is.
But back in the day, some of these people
are a bunch of crazy people, crazy elitists.
Like you have to separate yourself from the
fact in philosophy, and a lot of people love
to get in these wars.
I, you know, I’ve spent so much time in university
and people like, Oh, you like him?
I mean, I’m like, Dude, I like everybody,
00:14:58:29 – 00:15:22:02
And that’s what these books are so important
for, man, is that it shows you what why it
matters what it brings the human element back.
It hopefully can separate you through the
story because that’s what matters.
It’s the story of philosophy.
His story, Bertrand’s story of Western philosophy,
and they are trying to make you see, they’re
trying to open up the flower and help you
bloom into the philosophical mind.
00:15:22:02 – 00:15:44:50
And if you’re 17 minutes into this video and
soliciting, then that means that you probably
already have done that.
So Russell accolades to him for giving praise
to the two of the Catholic philosophers, giving
them the Justice that they deserve.
I can guarantee you that if you haven’t read
it, go check it out.
I mean, and he shows you why Aquinas and Augustine
and those guys and that whole camp are once
again very important.
00:15:44:56 – 00:16:04:26
You can’t yeah.
You can’t be where we’re at now, really.
I mean, I guess you could, but without what
they did, can you have the Renaissance?
Can you have the Enlightenment period?
Can you have Francis Bacon?
And without Francis Bacon, none of that happens.
Yeah, or boy Francis, my Mr. Bacon.
Bertrand doesn’t really give.
I would you know the sort of philosophy.
00:16:04:26 – 00:16:22:10
So reading this compared to the sort of philosophy,
the philosophers that he covers fall a lot
shorter that Bertrand gives a very clear he
likes to give a clear history.
He doesn’t like to tell the story.
You don’t really know if you read the story
philosophy section on Francis Bacon because
he’s a really interesting figure.
Some of these philosophers actually really
00:16:22:10 – 00:16:48:32
I think that’s a part of the history, like
I said, that it makes you care, makes you
really care when they’re interesting.
So moving on a little bit further, he does
a very big analysis of Hume and Locke and
it up and you can kind of see his biases starting
to come out in the modern philosophy section.
I’m looking right now and you start to see
like Francis Bacon gets five pages Spinoza
gets nine pages, but Hume gets 17 pages and
you start to see it’s like really, really
00:16:48:34 – 00:17:14:36
But you think about it, Oh, Hume’s very important
I’m sorry if I mispronounce.
It is very important for Bertrand Russell’s
thought patterns and his where he’s going
with his philosophy.
You need that.
So that’s what he really focuses on like this.
He even mentioned Schelling, who I think is
very important for nature.
He barely I mean, he does a slight analysis
of six pages on Schopenhauer so in this final
section and now I think it’s now time.
00:17:14:47 – 00:17:31:10
I think he does a great job.
I think he does a really great job.
He shows he shows the whole history.
He brings in a lot of people that most history
of philosophy books don’t bring in.
He summarizes their thoughts very well.
But it’s kind of a travesty.
And this is kind of he’s writing in the in
the World War two period of it while he’s
writing this during World War Two.
00:17:31:24 – 00:17:50:27
And, you know, there’s, of course, a very
negative view in nature until the fifties
and sixties with an author, a famous philosopher,
a writer, writer, I can’t remember right now.
Nietzsche had a dark stain that nobody really
understood and brought his actual work to
And all the opinions were generally negative.
And I would agree here, and you would think
that anyone actually just read the work would
00:17:50:27 – 00:18:06:39
But the will to power when you have a bunch
of Nazis killing tens of millions of.
Well, yeah, tens of millions of people, I
guess, total across, you know, tens of million
people die in a war that they start is a lot.
And with fascism is general everywhere and
then communism sparking up and colorful dictators
00:18:06:53 – 00:18:31:39
You know, I understand why it’s not very good
but at some level for us to where we are going
as human beings now with this infinite potential
in this mostly free world is mostly preaching
Until the recent, you know, war happening,
we can learn a lot through Nietzsche for personal
development, for our own life about the way
the technology and technology’s position,
which is very Superman like, very ubermensch
00:18:31:39 – 00:19:00:43
And we need to understand that and come to
terms with that before we start going into
But no one seems to care and nobody seems
to care and want to understand a lot of these
concepts which are now so important that the
real thing that we’re going to need moving
And I think, you know, obviously Russell doesn’t
understand this is that we need a big set
of ethics if we’re going to start making robots,
if there are going to be weapons and robots
that can kill people and go crazy, we need
to have very good ethics for the people controlling
them or for even the robots or A.I.
00:19:00:53 – 00:19:24:25
We need to be able to understand that and
reason with it and understand what we are
And it doesn’t seem like we are doing that.
It seems like we are just heading straight
into the void, having this Machiavellian point
of view toward the earth.
There’s a there’s Descartes, and that’s it
kind of all stems from this Cartesian split
from nature that we still haven’t mended yet,
that in the poetic world and in parts of literature,
we’ve mended that.
00:19:24:25 – 00:19:42:44
But in actual our actual consciousness, we
are still fragmented.
We are still fragmented, traumatized human
beings engaging in abuse.
And so if you guys enjoyed this review, leave
a like subscribe to the channel and then go
check out my video on a little black book
on the Human Shadow by Robert Bly.
It will delve into some of the problems that