I recently took an introductory history course and there we visited a lot of modern philosophers and thinkers and briefly studied their influence on the society and the influence of their life conditions on them. However, I am looking for a book that introduces philosophical views (like an introduction to philosophy) more in depth but with an eye on the (political, economical, natural) conditions. For example, the book Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy by Susan Neiman starts with the Lisbon Earthquake in the intro, but then separates from the historical context (from my uneducated view point). I am looking for answers to questions like "why we even came up with such ideas?" rather than merely knowing the idea itself. I would appreciate if someone could introduce a source that satisfies my need (or offer an alternative standpoint if I'm thinking quite wrong).

  • Check out socionomics.net for one way to study economic trends and ideas. Jun 5, 2018 at 21:42
  • Good question. It may be hard to find this in one book. This is why we must make friends with philosophy books, and history books of the appropriate era, and biographies of the philosophers also. Some biographies take the thought of the person very much into account, and these are called "intellectual biographies" in English. Also we have something known as "intellectual history" (English term) which covers the intellectual history of a certain time and/or place. So you have to make friends with a good library too, unless you can afford all these books! You are on the right path.
    – Gordon
    Jun 6, 2018 at 1:41
  • @Gordon thanks for your response. I understand that there is no one source that entails everything. But rather I'm looking for a starting point, that is nor too simplistic and neither too technical.
    – Mathist
    Jun 6, 2018 at 16:44
  • 1
    @Mathophile-Macthochist This is an example of an almost perfect scholarly book. Title: Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern : a companion to the second Viennese school, Author: Simms, Bryan R., Greenwwod Press, 1999. It covers the music of these men, but also in full historical context. I put it down as an example. But it's in musicology and not philosophy! Anyway, I am sure there are probably philosophy books like this, but I just don't know about them. Good luck in finding them. In the meantime you may have to read your history and philosophy, etc., in separate books.
    – Gordon
    Jun 6, 2018 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


Bertrand Russell: A History of Western Philosophy, 3 Volumes. It analyzes everything from the ancient Greeks to Nietzche, with the socio-political context included.

Marxist Philosophers in general talk a lot about the socio-economic aspects, but they are sometimes too ideological.

The philosophy of mathematics is very well developed, since it links with the foundations of mathematics. Russel, Wittgenstein, Frege, Quine, Brouwer etc. have made great contributions to set theory, logic and other topics in the foundations of mathematics.

Even psychologists have made great contributions to philosophical thought, Freud being the most famous example perhaps. Jung, Anna Freud are the other greats in this category.

For natural philosophy and the history of science, I would say it is the least developed of the lot. Darwin and evolutionary theorists are good regarding biology but physics and chemistry have been under-analyzed.

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