I was reading in the recent past the multivolume History of Philosophy of F.Copleston.

It is essentially the only interesting history of philosophy (along with the multivolume Routhledge History of Philosophy) for someone who has already an overview of the major philosophers since because of it length it elaborates a bit more than shorter books of history of philosophy like the one of B. Russell.

However, my problem with even this kind of history of philosophy is that it is presented in a too chronological way. The philosophers who are presented in the books are primarily related in terms of their chronological succession and not so much by their philosophical proximity.

In other words, is there any history of philosophy book which is not so much a genealogical tree of the philosophers (and hence chronological primarily in terms of the philosophers ) but which is a genealogical tree of the philosophical arguments (and hence thematic in terms of the philosophical questions and answers)?

Therefore, I want to have an overview of the history of philosophy as a genealogical tree where the roots are (let's say) 20 fundamental questions and then from each of these there are separate branches and leaves which represent the subsequent questions which arise from these fundamental questions and the answers of the philosophers who attempted to answer them etc.

  • I can understand the desire, but it seems naive to me. Philosophy is not science, there are no "20 questions" that retain meaning or significance across the ages. Part of what every major philosopher does is replacing all the "fundamental questions", and developing their own apparatus for answering their own. Those who apply similar arguments to similar questions are epigones, so what you are describing would only work for a history of epigones to a master-founder, or perhaps for some very special issues like the problem of universals or the ontological argument.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 0:17
  • Randall Collins' book Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change may be one answer to your query. He builds network models of the thematic relationships between philosophers.
    – DJohnson
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:04
  • Arthur C. Danto, "Connecions to the World, The Basic Concepts of Philosophy" (Analytic Tradition but his Philosophy of Art is Hegelian, the book does not discuss his philosophy of art); "Heidegger in France" Janicaud, archive.org/details/dominique-janicaud-heidegger-in-france ; J. Maritain "Elements of Philosophy" also in English on Amazon, archive.org/details/elementsdephilos01mari; this is subjective but it hits on some main themes.
    – Gordon
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 14:58
  • Robert Scharff, Philosophy of Technology, collection of essays archive.org/details/… Danto's book probably comes the closest of these to what you seek.
    – Gordon
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


You can see the four-part work of Anthony Kenny : A New History of Western Philosophy.

See e.g. :

  • Thanks, that's a good one. However, highlighting relations between for example Freud and Derrida is essentially quite trivial/common nowadays. I would like something which may eventually (but convincingly) relate for example Derrida with a philosopher of the Middle Ages (if there is any relation between them).
    – Outcast
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 23:00
  • Secondly, and more importantly, keep in mind that still this history of philosophy is again history of the philosophers (Bentham to Nietsche, Derrida to Freud etc) whereas I would like something more like a history of the philosophical arguments (Question_1 -> Answer_1 -> Question_2 ->Answer_2 etc)
    – Outcast
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 23:03
  • (P.S. I upvoted your post because I acknowledge your effort to answer my question)
    – Outcast
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 1:07

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