Of all the topics in the history of philosophy, the history of different forms of thinking and contemplation is one of the most important, and yet is also relatively overlooked. What is it to think philosophically? How did different forms of thinking—reflection, contemplation, critique and analysis—emerge in different epochs?

This collection offers a rich and diverse philosophical exploration of the history of contemplation, from the classical period to the twenty-first century. It covers canonical figures including Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Kant, as well as debates in less well-known areas such as classical Indian and Islamic thought and the role of speculation in twentieth-century Russian philosophy.

Comprising twenty-two chapters by an international team of contributors, the volume is divided into five parts:

• Flourishing and Thinking from Homer to Hume
• The Thinking of Thinking from Augustine to Gödel
• Images and Thinking from Plotinus to Unger
• Bodies of Thought and Habits of Thinking from Plato to Irigaray
• The Efficacy of Thinking from Sextus to Bataille

Thought: A Philosophical History is the first comprehensive investigation of the history of philosophical thought and contemplation. As such, it is a landmark publication for anyone researching and teaching the history of philosophy, and a valuable resource for those studying the subject in related fields such as literature, religion, sociology and the history of ideas.

chapter |5 pages


Patterns of thinking

part I|40 pages

Flourishing and thinking from Homer to Hume

chapter 1|12 pages

Thinking like a hero

chapter 2|15 pages

The primacy of practice and the centrality of outlook

Reflections on Chinese ethical traditions

chapter 3|11 pages

Thinking, theorizing and theoria

part II|68 pages

The thinking of thinking from Augustine to Gödel

chapter 4|11 pages

The myth of the mental

An Augustinian critique of Dreyfus and McDowell

chapter 5|15 pages

Romantic thinking

part III|62 pages

Images and thinking from Plotinus to Unger

chapter 9|18 pages


Philosophical thinking as self-creation

chapter 10|13 pages

Thinking’s history

Descartes and the past tense of thought

chapter 12|15 pages

The mythic imagination as an ‘experiment in philosophy’

Erich Unger’s contribution to the phenomenology of thinking

part IV|74 pages

Bodies of thought and habits of thinking from Plato to Irigaray

chapter 13|11 pages

Thinking about the unthinkable

Hypothesizing the khôra in the Timaeus

chapter 14|15 pages

Thought in motion

Lucretius’ materialist practice

chapter 15|14 pages

Thinking philosophically in the Middle Ages

The case of the early Franciscans

part V|69 pages

The efficacy of thinking from Sextus to Bataille

chapter 18|13 pages

Thinking without commitment

Two models

chapter 19|13 pages

Thinking, acting, and acting by thinking

Marx and Althusser

chapter 20|14 pages

‘Thoughts and purposes have come to me in the shadow I should never have learned in the sunshine’

The development of philosophical thinking in the literature of Frances E. W. Harper

chapter 21|14 pages

The void of thought and the ambivalence of history

Chaadaev, Bakunin, and Fedorov

chapter 22|13 pages

The destruction of thought