Book Review of Sophie’s World – A Novel About the History of Philosophy
Why I picked this book?

Sophie’s World – A Novel About the History of Philosophy – this book is suggested by a famous and successful teacher for anyone who wants to study philosophy. Apart from history, philosophy is another subject that interests me, and I always wanted to read philosophy but was never able to find out where to start. There are so many philosophers with different schools of philosophy, and it is confusing if you plan to self-study about philosophy. The teacher suggested starting with this book as it will give you a history of philosophy, starting from the early Greek philosophers to the twentieth-century philosophers, and a brief about their philosophy. So, I decided to read this one.

The book

Sophie’s World – A Novel About the History of Philosophy, the name is self-explanatory. It takes the readers on a journey of the history of philosophy and how. The story of Sophie and his mysterious philosophy teacher, who came to know that she and his teacher are just characters in a novel that Albert Knag is writing for her daughter, Hilde Moller Knag as her fifteenth birthday present. As you move ahead in the book, you realize that even Albert Knag and his daughter are characters in the novel by Jostein Gaarder. While reading the novel the readers get to know about philosophy and philosophers through what Sophie learns from his teacher and what Hilde learns from reading about Sophie and his teacher. An interesting way of introducing the readers to philosophy.

What is the most important thing in life? If we ask someone living on the edge of starvation, the answer is food. If we ask someone dying of cold, the answer is warmth. If we put the same question to someone who feels lonely and isolated, the answer will probably be the company of other people. But when these basic needs have been satisfied – will there still be something that everybody needs? Philosophers think so. They believe that man cannot live by bread alone. Of course everyone needs food. And everyone needs love and care. But there is something else – apart from that – which everyone needs, and that is to figure out who we are and why we are here.

Sophie’s World is a fine example of storytelling, and how great storytelling can hook people to reading. The author starts with the pre-Socratic era, the philosophers of that era, what was their thought processes, what they thought about, and what did they establish.  Then he moves on to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle and goes through the famous and significant philosophers and philosophy of the past two thousand and five hundred years.

What is interesting is the way in which the author tells the history of philosophy through Sophie and Hilde. Halfway through the book, the readers won’t even realize that Sophie is not real, but a character in the book, and then it takes another half that even Hilde is a character conceived by the author. The book is written in such a way that it creates curiosity, and the readers find themselves involved and engaged in the book, always wondering what now.

A very well-written book, which takes the readers on the journey of the history of philosophy and introduces them to various philosophers from different periods. And gives the readers a starting point to read more about any philosophy or philosopher they find interesting. The readers will get a chance to read about all the famous and significant philosophers of all time. A great book to learn the very basics of philosophy.

Since some philosophers lived in a different age – and perhaps in a completely different culture from ours – it is a good idea to try and see what each philosopher’s project is. By this I mean that we must try to grasp precisely what it is that each particular philosopher is especially concerned with finding out. One philosopher might want to know how plants and animals came into being. Another might want to know whether there is a God or whether man has an immortal soul.

Anyone who has interest in philosophy and wants to know and read about philosophy and philosophers should read this one before they start reading philosophy. A great book to give you a basic idea about the different era of philosophy, different philosophers and their philosophy.

About The Author

Jostein Gaarder was born in Oslo in 1952. Sophie’s World, the first of his books to be published in English, has been translated into 60 languages and has sold over 40 million copies. He is the author of many other bestselling, beloved novels and children’s books, including The Orange Girl, The Christmas Mystery and The Ringmaster’s Daughter. He lives in Oslo with his family.

Our Verdict

Sophie’s World is a wonderful, interesting and informative book to give the readers a basic understanding of various philosophies and philosophers right from 500 BC to the twentieth century.

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