Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

A History of Philosophy (Copleston)

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Originally published  1946
Page count  5,344
Author  Frederick Copleston
Genres  History, Non-fiction
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Publisher  Continuum (Worldwide), Doubleday (US & Canada), Paulist Press (US & Canada)
Publication date  1946–1974 (volumes 1–9), 1956 (volume 11), 1986 (volume 10)
Pages  5,344 (volumes 1–11) (2003 Continuum editions)
Subjects  Western philosophy, History
Similar  Frederick Copleston books, Non-fiction books, Western philosophy books

A History of Philosophy is an eleven-volume history of Western philosophy written by English Jesuit priest Frederick Charles Copleston.


Copleston's History provides extensive coverage of Western philosophy from the Pre-Socratics through Dewey, Russell, Moore, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. The first nine volumes, originally published between 1946 and 1974, were written for Catholic seminary students with the goal "of supplying Catholic ecclesiastical seminaries with a work that should be somewhat more detailed and of wider scope than the textbooks, commonly in use, and which at the same time should endeavour to exhibit the logical development and interconnection of philosophical systems." A tenth volume was added in 1986, and the eleventh is actually a collection of essays which appeared in 1956 as Contemporary Philosophy.

Throughout the eleven volumes Copleston's Roman Catholic (Thomist) point of view is never hidden. All the same, it seems generally accepted that Copleston's treatment is fair and complete, even for philosophical positions that he does not support.

Summary of contents

The following is a summary of contents (not a full table of contents) for the eleven volumes:

Volume 1: Greece and Rome

  • Pre-Socratic philosophy
  • The Socratic period
  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Post-Aristotelian philosophy
  • Volume 2: Augustine to Scotus

  • Pre-mediaeval Influences (including St. Augustine)
  • The Carolingian Renaissance
  • The Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Centuries
  • Islamic and Jewish Philosophy
  • The Thirteenth Century (including St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus)
  • Volume 3: Ockham to Suarez

  • The Fourteenth Century (including William of Ockham)
  • Philosophy of the Renaissance (including Francis Bacon)
  • Scholasticism of the Renaissance (including Francisco Suárez)
  • Volume 4: Descartes to Leibniz

  • René Descartes
  • Blaise Pascal
  • Nicolas Malebranche
  • Baruch Spinoza
  • Gottfried Leibniz
  • Volume 5: Hobbes to Hume

  • Thomas Hobbes
  • John Locke
  • Isaac Newton
  • George Berkeley
  • David Hume
  • Volume 6: Wolff to Kant

  • The French Enlightenment (including Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
  • The German Enlightenment
  • The Rise of the Philosophy of History (including Giambattista Vico and Voltaire)
  • Christian Wolff
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Volume 7: Fichte to Nietzsche

  • Johann Gottlieb Fichte
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
  • Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Karl Marx
  • Søren Kierkegaard
  • Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Volume 8: Bentham to Russell

  • British Empiricism (including John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer)
  • The Idealist Movement in Great Britain (including Francis Herbert Bradley and Bernard Bosanquet)
  • Idealism in America (including Josiah Royce)
  • The Pragmatist Movement (including Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey)
  • The Revolt Against Idealism (including George Edward Moore and Bertrand Russell)
  • Volume 9: Maine de Biran to Sartre

  • From the French Revolution to Auguste Comte (including Maine de Biran)
  • From Auguste Comte to Henri Bergson
  • From Henri Bergson to Jean-Paul Sartre (including Maurice Merleau-Ponty)
  • Volume 10: Russian Philosophy

    This and the following book are only included in the Continuum edition. The Doubleday edition only contains the original nine volumes.

  • Ivan Kireevsky, Peter Lavrov, and other Russian philosophers
  • Philosophy in Dostoevsky and Tolstoy
  • Religion and Philosophy: Vladimir Solovyov
  • Plekhanov, Bogdanov, Lenin and Marxism
  • Nikolai Berdyaev and other philosophers in exile
  • Volume 11: Logical Positivism and Existentialism

    Included as Volume 11 in the Continuum edition, this is actually a collection of essays, which appeared in 1956 as Contemporary Philosophy. It covers Logical positivism and Existentialism.


  • Copleston, Frederick (1946–1975). A History of Philosophy. Great Britain: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-6948-5. 
  • References

    A History of Philosophy (Copleston) Wikipedia

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