The Story of Philosophy

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The Story of Philosophy
The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant
AuthorWill Durant
CountryUnited States
PublishedMarch 17, 1926 (Simon & Schuster)

The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers is a 1926 book by Will Durant, in which he profiles several prominent Western philosophers and their ideas, beginning with Socrates and Plato and on through Friedrich Nietzsche. Durant attempts to show the interconnection of their ideas and how one philosopher's ideas informed the next.

There are nine chapters each focused on one philosopher, and two more chapters each containing briefer profiles of three early 20th century philosophers.

The book was published in 1926, with a revised second edition released in 1933. The work was preceded by a number of pamphlets in the Little Blue Books series of inexpensive worker education pamphlets.[1][2] They proved so popular they were assembled into a single book and published in hardcover form by Simon & Schuster in 1926.[3]

Philosophers profiled are, in order: Plato (with a section on Socrates), Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Baruch Spinoza (with a section on Descartes), Voltaire (with a section on Rousseau), Immanuel Kant (with a section on Hegel), Arthur Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

The final two chapters are devoted to European and then American philosophers. Henri Bergson, Benedetto Croce, and Bertrand Russell are covered in the tenth, and George Santayana, William James, and John Dewey are covered in the eleventh.

In a foreword to the readers in the second edition of the book, Durant expresses his acknowledgement for the criticism that the book received as to how it does not include philosophers from the Asian continent, most notably Confucius, Buddha and Adi Shankara.[4]

This work is the source of the popular quote, typically misattributed to Aristotle: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” The phrase was originated by Durant when discussing Aristotle's work.[5]

Publication data[edit]

  • Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: the Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers (1926) New York: Simon & Schuster, revised edition 1933


  1. ^ Schocket, Eric (2002). "Proletarian Paperbacks: The Little Blue Books and Working-Class Culture". College Literature. 29 (4): 71.
  2. ^ "Little Blue Books"
  3. ^ Rubin, Joan Shelley (1992). The making of middle/brow culture. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-8078-2010-5.
  4. ^ Durant, Will (1962). The Story of Philosophy (4th ed.). New York, NY: Time Reading Program. p. xxiii.
  5. ^ Fact Check: Did Aristotle Say 'We Are What We Repeatedly Do'? June 26, 2019, Retrieved April 11, 2021

External links[edit]