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Wizard's Lair Bookstore

Esoteric Books: 90 Minute Philosophers

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The books referenced on this page dip into a popular new series of philosophy texts that promise to explain the work of history's great thinkers in just an hour and a half: you be the judge.

Sartre in 90 Minutes ~ Usually ships in 2-3 days
by Paul Strathern / Paperback / Published 1998

Probably the easiest introduction to existentialism you'll ever find, "Sartre in 90 Minutes" manages to produce an intellectually credible — and slyly humorous — summary of Jean Paul Sartre's life and work in just over 70 pages. Paul Strathern ably shifts from descriptions of the open relationship between Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to analyses of the contributions of Heidegger and Kierkegaard to Sartre's belief that life is what you make it. The jokes tend to be cynical and snarky in tone; after the publication of "Being and Nothingness," for example, "word soon began to spread from the few who actually read the book to those who wished to talk about it as if they had." The philosophical exegesis, however, is spot on, the equivalent of a very good college lecture by an instructor who genuinely wants to make sure students understand the material. If you're at all interested in Sartre and existentialism, pick this book up for a quick, painless introduction.

Amazon Price: $4.76 ~ You Save: $1.19 (20%)

Thomas Aquinas in 90 Minutes ~ Usually ships in 24 hours
by Paul Strathern / Paperback / Published 1998

Paul Strathern takes on "a shadowy figure amongst the incense clouds of theology," who also happens to be "the finest philosophical mind in Europe for a thousand years (since St. Augustine)," St. Thomas Aquinas. Strathern applies his trademark humor to the "Summa Theologica" ("Christianity's answer to the Talmud") and the "Summa Contra Gentiles," whose "imaginary reader is generally reckoned to be an intellectual Arab. After being subjected to hundreds of pages demonstrating the incontrovertible truth of the Christian religion, it is assumed that he has no alternative but to forswear Islam and embrace Christianity. How many intellectual Arabs subjected themselves to this grueling experience and reached the same conclusion is unknown." Underneath the gags, however, you'll gain a reasonable summation of Aquinas's impact on the scholasticism of his era and the validity of his continued, if somewhat diminished, relevance to present-day philosophy.

Amazon Price: $4.76 ~ You Save: $1.19 (20%)

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