What We Are Reading Today: Dante by John Took

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Updated 11 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Dante by John Took

For all that has been written about the author of the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) remains the best guide to his own life and work. 

Dante’s writings are therefore never far away in this authoritative and comprehensive intellectual biography, which offers a fresh account of the medieval Florentine poet’s life and thought before and after his exile in 1302.

Beginning with the often violent circumstances of Dante’s life, the book examines his successive works as testimony to the course of his passionate humanity — his lyric poetry through to the Vita Nova as the great work of his first period; the Convivio, De vulgari eloquentia and the poems of his early years in exile; and the Monarchia and the Commedia as the product of his maturity. 

Describing as it does a journey of the mind, the book confirms the nature of Dante’s undertaking as an exploration of what he himself speaks of as “maturity in the flame of love,” says a review on the Princeton University Press website. 

The result is an original synthesis of Dante’s life and work.


What We Are Reading Today: The World Philosophy Made by Scott Soames

Updated 20 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The World Philosophy Made by Scott Soames

Philosophical investigation is the root of all human knowledge. Developing new concepts, reinterpreting old truths, and reconceptualizing fundamental questions, philosophy has progressed — and driven human progress — for more than two millennia. 

In short, we live in a world philosophy made. In this concise history of philosophy’s world-shaping impact, Scott Soames demonstrates that the modern world— including its science, technology, and politics— simply would not be possible without the accomplishments of philosophy.

Firmly rebutting the misconception of philosophy as ivory-tower thinking, Soames traces its essential contributions to fields as diverse as law and logic, psychology and economics, relativity and rational decision theory. Beginning with the giants of ancient Greek philosophy, The World Philosophy Made chronicles the achievements of the great thinkers, from the medieval and early modern eras to the present. 

It explores how philosophy has shaped our language, science, mathematics, religion, culture, morality, education, and politics, as well as our understanding of ourselves.

Philosophy’s idea of rational inquiry as the key to theoretical knowledge and practical wisdom has transformed the world in which we live. From the laws that govern society to the digital technology that permeates modern life, philosophy has opened up new possibilities and set us on more productive paths. The World Philosophy Made explains and illuminates as never before the inexhaustible richness of philosophy and its influence on our individual and collective lives.