A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry is a fascinating account of the history of western thought. Ferry begins by answering the thorny question, “What is philosophy?” One of the answers that emerges has to do with the so-called quest for salvation. Ferry brilliantly surveys the history of philosophy and presents various answers to the question from the ancient Greeks to the Renaissance and Enlightenment thinkers, and concludes by examining the thought of Nietzsche and Heidegger. Ferry demonstrates how Christianity dominated and displaced Greco-Roman pagan thought and played a key role in the history of ideas.
While Ferry does not accept the conclusion of historic Christianity at the end of the day, his honest and open-minded treatment of the dominant philosophical questions is commendable and encouraging. Strawman arguments are nowhere to be found in this work. At play is an author who is honestly wrestling with ideas and assessing the facts as he sees them. The broad sweep of historical thought that he presents is very helpful.