A comprehensive introductory primer that provides succinct presentations of all the major trends in western philosophy dating back to ancient Greece, with a focus on how we structure and organize our world.
Wheeler, a naval flying instructor with limited formal training in philosophy, creates a helpful bridge to the writings of leading thinkers throughout history–from the unitary monist perspective of Parmenides in ancient Greece through the dualistic orientation of René Descartes in 17th-century France. He continues with the empirical and rationalistic viewpoints of John Locke and David Hume in 18th-century England towards the modern body of work by Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Friedrich Nietzsche and numerous others. Wheeler examines the logical arguments underpinning the gestalt of the leading philosophers and places it within the social and political context of their specific eras. He weaves a thread of continuity of unitary thinking from Parmenides through Benedict de Spinoza in 17th-century Holland, Michael Faraday in 19th-century England, and Albert Einstein of the 20th century, demonstrating in the process the ultimate ontological existence of reality, and how the disciplines of science and philosophy influence one another and shape our concepts of ourselves at the present moment and in relation to the entire universe.
Wheeler's command of the material is impressive, and he is a welcome guide through the labyrinthine pathways of historical philosophy.