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Ideas : a history of thought and invention, from fire to Freud

Author: Peter Watson
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, ©2005.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : 1st edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
In this hugely ambitious and stimulating book, Peter Watson describes the history of ideas, from deep antiquity to the present day, leading to a new way of understanding our world and ourselves. The narrative begins nearly two million years ago with the invention of hand-axes and explores how some of our most cherished notions might have originated before humans had language. Then, in a broad sweep, the book moves  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Peter Watson
ISBN: 006621064X 9780066210643 9780060935641 0060935642
OCLC Number: 60558715
Description: xix, 822 pages ; 25 cm
Contents: Lucy to Gilgamesh: the evolution of imagination --
Isaiah to Zhuxi: the romance of the soul --
The great hinge of history: European acceleration --
Aquinas to Jefferson: the attack on authority, the idea of the secular and the birth of modern individualism --
Vico to Freud: parallel truths: the modern incoherence.
Responsibility: Peter Watson.

Abstract:

In this hugely ambitious and stimulating book, Peter Watson describes the history of ideas, from deep antiquity to the present day, leading to a new way of understanding our world and ourselves. The narrative begins nearly two million years ago with the invention of hand-axes and explores how some of our most cherished notions might have originated before humans had language. Then, in a broad sweep, the book moves forward to consider not the battles and treaties of kings and prime ministers, emperors and generals, but the most important ideas we have evolved, by which we live and which separate us from other animals. Watson explores the first languages and the first words, the birth of the gods, the origins of art, the profound intellectual consequences of money. He describes the invention of writing, early ideas about law, why sacrifice and the soul have proved so enduring in religion. He explains how ideas about time evolved, how numbers were conceived, how science, medicine, sociology, economics, and capitalism came into being. He shows how the discovery of the New World changed forever the way that we think, and why Chinese creativity faded after the Middle Ages. In the course of this commanding narrative, Watson reveals the linkages down the ages in the ideas of many apparently disparate philosophers, astronomers, religious leaders, biologists, inventors, poets, jurists, and scores of others. Aristotle jostles with Aquinas, Ptolemy with Photius, Kalidasa with Zhu Xi, Beethoven with Strindberg, Jefferson with Freud. Ideas is a seminal work.

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