Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English (Hardback)Jonathan Ree (author)
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'We English men have wits,' wrote the clergyman Ralph Lever in 1573, and, 'we have also framed unto ourselves a language.'
Witcraft is a fresh and brilliant history of how philosophy became established in English. It presents a new form of philosophical storytelling and challenges what Jonathan Ree calls the 'condescending smugness' of traditional histories of philosophy. Ree tells the story of philosophy as it was lived and practised, embedded in its time and place, by men and women from many walks of life, engaged with the debates and culture of their age. And, by focusing on the rich history of works in English, including translations, he shows them to be quite as colourful, diverse, inventive and cosmopolitan as their continental counterparts.
Witcraft offers new and compelling intellectual portraits not only of celebrated British and American philosophers, such as Hume, Emerson, Mill and James, but also of the remarkable philosophical work of literary authors, such as William Hazlitt and George Eliot, as well as a carnival of overlooked characters - priests and poets, teachers, servants and crofters, thinking for themselves and reaching their own conclusions about religion, politics, art and everything else.
The book adopts a novel structure, examining its subject at fifty-year intervals from the sixteenth century to the twentieth. Researched over decades and illuminated by quotations from extensive archival material, it is a book full of stories and personalities as well as ideas, and shows philosophy springing from the life around it. Witcraft overturns the established orthodoxies of the history of philosophy, and celebrates the diversity, vitality and inventiveness of philosophical thought.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 768
Weight: 1265 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 48 mm
'A generous and undogmatic account of English philosophy that will delight open-minded readers.' - The Financial Times
'Ree's book may well be the most fun we've ever had with anglophone philosophy. The French Maoist Alain Badiou once told me that English philosophy has its 'cote somnifere', by which he meant it was yawnsomely dull. Ree's book serves as a 750-page retort to that, an intellectual adventure story in which the usual suspects - Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Mill - all figure, but get sidelined by his heroes - the oddballs, underdogs and outcasts, many of them women, some of them scary decapitators, who were obliged to operate outside the patriarchal, class-bound academy.' - Stuart Jeffries, The Spectator
'This book is a game-changer. It fills a giant hole that we did not know was there. We will never be able to think of English philosophy in quite the same way again.' - Professor David Wood