A Mind-Map to Western Philosophy


Now that I re-read the title, I’m inclined to think I should change it because this is a very bold title.

But we live in bold times, and bold times call for bold titles.

Recently I read about a “Most Influential Books” list via Daniel Miessler’s post “Episteme”. I commented that it was a bit presumptuous to believe that the reader of the 100 list would be able to get anything out of some of the selections without other key concepts and items discussed in the previous authors’ work. For example, to make sense of Hume or Berkeley, you really need to know Aristotle’s Categories and Descartes’ Meditations. The former is not singled out and the latter didn’t make the list ( cogito ergo sum doesn’t rate? ).

I gave some thought as to how I could give a rough sketch of Western intellectual development in a broad-strokes sense that worked visually. Enter FreeMind. FreeMind is a mind-mapping software ( Free! ) that exports to PDF.

So I took an attempt at producing a PDF that gives context for these books.

Here’s a sample

MindMap for Western Philo by Steven G. Harms

Full PDF Here

Where possible, I have put a number entry, which corresponds to that book’s entry in the 100 list.

For Updates / Suggestions:

  • Leave comments here
    • I will make changes for errors ( Merleau-Ponty never said “changing it changes”! ) or typos
    • Splitting hairs on which school / thought line ( X was born in Romania, why listed as a German? ). Large errors, OK, but keep in mind I’m trying to frame whole books, not write the definitive history of Western Philo
    • Ditto dates. Yes Wittgenstein lived before WWII, but he also lived after. Again, I’m grouping by broad similarity, not hair-splitting difference

I hope this gets some of you reading! If you want two great Anthologies

  • Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, From Thales to Aristotle. Cohen, Curd, Reeve eds. Hackett press.