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Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion Paperback – Aug 1 1996
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For thorough treatments of Ajivikas and the Apologists, the derivation and meaning of "angst" and "anthropopathism," and profiles of Apollo, Al-Kindi, and Antiochus of Ascalon, William Reese's Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion is the tome of preference. And it does a fine job with B through Z, as well. With more than 4,000 entries, the dictionary delves into Continental and Asian philosophies and religions, and provides biographies of more than 900 ancient, medieval, and modern philosophers. It's erudite, inclusive, accessible, and covers the major philosophers, gods, tenets, and terms of both the Eastern and Western worlds. --Stephanie Gold --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"[A] very good book. Probably one of the best of its kind now available."
—Philosophy East and West
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The drawbacks to such an approach are clear. After all, the book has to have some limitation to its length and it is covering many authors who wrote many thousands of pages on their own ideas, so the articles have to do quite a bit of summing up. Since it is absurd to expect deeper coverage from such a book anyway, I feel just fine highly recommending it.
For years, this book was my main source of information on Giordano Bruno (1548-1600). I suspect that it is right about "he was condemned to death, and burned alive in the Campo Dei Fiori on February 17, 1600." I have tried to make sense of a few of Bruno's books, like THE EXPULSION OF THE TRIUMPHANT BEAST, but I'm inclined to accept the list of main ideas in this dictionary as the sum of his accomplishments. Dying for the idea that "The universe is infinite" makes more sense than some of his monads, and "To consider reality in its multiplicity" is an achievement that I can appreciate.
On the other hand, the entry for Paul Tillich (1886-1965) illustrates a theologian's ability to distinguish "between three forms of reasoning~heteronymous, autonomous, and theonomous." I thought heteronymous would be pretty good, but Tillich thought that even "Autonomous reason takes its principles from within, but thereby reveals itself as vacuous and tautological." Being able to accept that Tillich would say that is part of being able to appreciate what this book is all about. I'm not saying that these guys are always right about anything.