Philosophy in 90 minutes

On 10/07/2012, in Philosophy, by wouter

Philosophy in 90 Minutes

by Luke Muehlhauser on March 9, 2011 in Resources


Philosophy lecturer Paul Strathern has written short introductions to famous philosophers, similar to my Painless Introductions series.

His books are more chatty and biographical than mine, and also longer. There are also some inaccuracies that seem to have slipped in due to an urge to make the books fun and sensational. For example, he says that “Plato’s Academy was to flourish in Athens until it was finally closed by the emperor Justinian in 529 A.D.,” which is false. The Academy was destroyed in 86 B.C., and a new Academy was not built for over 400 years.

Nevertheless, Strathern’s books are among the most enjoyable introductions to philosophy currently available, and cover several philosophers for which I may never write a Painless Introduction, for example Foucault.

Here are Strathern’s books:

There is also a series by John and Mary Gribbin called Scientists in 90 Minutes:


During his lifetime, Jean-Paul Sartre enjoyed unprecedented popularity for a philosopher, due partly to his role as a spokesman for existentialism—at the opportune moment when this set of ideas filled the spiritual gap left amidst the ruins of World War II. Existentialism was a philosophy of action and showed the ultimate freedom of the individual. In Sartre’s hands it became a revolt against European bourgeois values.

In Sartre in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Sartre’s life and ideas and explains their influence on man’s struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Sartre’s work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Sartre within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.


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