Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy Paperback – Mar 20 2007
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Wanting to understand the most fundamental questions of the universe isn't the province of ivory-tower intellectuals alone, as this book's enormous popularity has demonstrated. A young girl, Sophie, becomes embroiled in a discussion of philosophy with a faceless correspondent. At the same time, she must unravel a mystery involving another young girl, Hilde, by using everything she's learning. The truth is far more complicated than she could ever have imagined. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
This long, dense novel, a bestseller in the author's native Norway, offers a summary history of philosophy embedded in a philosophical mystery disguised as a children's book-but only sophisticated young adults would be remotely interested. Sophie Amundsen is about to turn 15 when she receives a letter from one Alberto Knox, a philosopher who undertakes to educate her in his craft. Sections in which we read the text of Knox's lessons to Sophie about the pre-Socratics, Plato and St. Augustine alternate with those in which we find out about Sophie's life with her well-meaning mother. Soon, though, Sophie begins receiving other, stranger missives addressed to one Hilde Moller Knag from her absent father, Albert. As Alberto Knox's lessons approach this century, he and Sophie come to suspect that they are merely characters in a novel written by Albert for his daughter. Teacher and pupil hatch a plot to understand and possibly escape from their situation; and from there, matters get only weirder. Norwegian philosophy professor Gaarder's notion of making a history of philosophy accessible is a good one. Unfortunately, it's occasionally undermined by the dry language he uses to describe the works of various thinkers and by an idiosyncratic bias that gives one paragraph to Nietzsche but dozens to Sartre, breezing right by Wittgenstein and the most influential philosophy of this century, logical positivism. Many readers, regardless of their age, may be tempted to skip over the lessons, which aren't well integrated with the more interesting and unusual metafictional story line. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This event signals Sophie's first contact with Philosophy. And as days go by and her birthday gets closer, all sorts of weird things start happening : a dog starts delivering her envelopes, letters for a certain Hilde Møller start arriving at her mailbox, a greek city appers before her eyes on video tape, and a misterious man is determined to teach her Philosophy. Sophie and her friend Jorunn will be drawn into a great adventure and at the same time she (and you, the reader), will start a grand tour on philosophy, from mankind's first myths up to the XXth. century.
Sophie's world accomplishes two things: it takes complex ideas and explains them in the most simple language possible (try opening a Kant or Hegel book and reading 10 pages without any formal philosopical background, like me), while keeping enough of a mystery in Sophie's journey to keep you turning pages. There's even a "Philosophical plot twist" that will make you think...
This book is not for those who study philosophy. It is for those who think philosophy is complex and out of reach. Highly commendable.
At the very least, this book presents historical philosophy in a way that makes it easy to understand. Sophie's lessons are delivered in a very unorthodox way and the mystery offers Sophie and the reader the incentive to continue with the lessons. The character of Sophie herself is incidental as it is the reader that becomes Sophie and part of the mystery.
Although not "great literature", I was completely captivated by the book and it is something that, if I had discovered it as a youth, would have changed my world.
Intermingled with this overview of philosophy is the story of two young girls; Sophie and Hilde. How their stories overlap I will leave for you, the reader, to discover. But be warned: You will probably find the story quite odd and that occasionally the author's opinion on issues such as the UN, environmentalism, etc. come through strongly, but it is not without purpose.
'Sophie's World' is a great introduction to the history of philosophical thought and gives a clear picture of what many of the most significant philosophers are remembered for. It's not perfect, but what is perfection anyway?
In "Sophie's World" you will find an interesting novel, intertwined almost seamlessly with the History of Philosohy. Is that possible?. For Jostein Gaarder, yes. This former philosophy teacher, born in 1952 in Oslo (Norway), reached success with this book, which has managed to attract even those not commonly interested in Philosophy and also, somehow, to become part of the bibliography of many undergraduate philosophy courses.
The plot of the book is rather simple. It centers on Sophie Amundsen, a fourteen year old girl approaching her fifteen birthday, who one day begins to receive letters from someone she doesn't know. In those letters, her unknown correspondent begins to tell her about the History of Philosophy, the subject he studies. Sophie's goes on receiving those letters throughout the novel, and they become an essential part of the plot, which is a mystery with unexpected turnarounds.
I would like to point out that I noticed a change in Sophie's attitude towards the world and what was happening around her, as the novel is nearer to its end. After learning in those letters about the History of Philosophy (that could also be called the History of Thought), she starts to think in a different, more analytical way. In my opinion, the reader suffers the same process that changes Sophie, and that is not a bad thing at all.
It is important to remark upon the fact that the letters that Sophie's correspondent sends her are written in a clear way, so that she (a teenager) would be able to understand them.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A good 101 of course and excellently written, but I thought some of the connecting threads were rather weak. Thoroughly enjoyable.Published 5 months ago by Douglas Bates
A great way to be introduced to the great philosophers but has to be read slowly as there is a lot of information for those of us who are not familiar with the great thinkers.Published 18 months ago by Val
A great book for growing minds. The author creates a fascinating world of philosophy and animates the imagination with an intriguing plot.Published 21 months ago by Joel Duff
Everyone should read it , young & old !The book I purchased was in good shape & I received it promptly .Published on Nov. 24 2013 by Gordon Ivany
one of the best books I ve ever read.
it reveals most difficult ideas with plain languages. ez to understand.
philosophy is for everybody