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Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy (FSG Classics)
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Product Description

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.

A page-turning novel that is also an exploration of the great philosophical concepts of Western thought, Sophie’s World has fired the imagination of readers all over the world, with more than twenty million copies in print.

One day fourteen-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find in her mailbox two notes, with one question on each: “Who are you?” and “Where does the world come from?” From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the philosophy she is learning—but the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined.

Customer Reviews:

  • universal wisdoms
    The ideas expressed in "Sophie's World" encompass the wisdom, myths and battles between good and evil throughout history. Highly thought-provoking, clever writing....more info
  • Sophie's World
    I enjoyed the story of the book very much and the history of western thought was well represented. When reading it, the reader is snared into the paradox of the "author" as part of the story, and from there wisdom, inquiry and knowledge is ingeniously imparted to the subject.

    I will recommend this book to anyone searching for knowledge of western thought in order to acquire wisdom....more info
  • horrible, boring, downright stupid
    Please save yourself the time and money and refrain from this book which is borderline antisemitic and is plain BORING. I never heard of this author and now I understand why.
    It did serve me well when I needed some paper to start off my grill fire this summmer, but I supoose that I could have found cheaper source than that.
    In short - pure and unadulterated boredome!!...more info
  • Western Philosophy Cliff's Notes with a twist
    I think the breadth of philosophy covered here was very nicely strung together. Gaardner's explanations and examples are great--they clarify some esoterics.

    I feel I benefited from this book, because my curiousity has been piqued. This may very well be why this book was written in the first place: To ignite readers' interest in philosophy. That being said, I'm going to be checking out books written by or about a few key people mentioned, most notebly: Hume, Kant, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Hegel....more info
  • not new as the seller said
    I was informed by the seller that the book was new, but actually it is neither new nor in good condition. ...more info
  • One word - Goethe
    "He who cannot draw on 3000 years is living from hand to mouth" - Goethe.

    To draw on the past 3000 years read Sophie's World. An alternative title for the book could be "Evolution of Western Philosophy for Dummies".

    Great book!...more info
  • An introduction to the mystery of thinking
    Philosophy is the love of knowledge: but more than that it is about using your imagination; about stretching the limits of your understanding and deciding what is real and what is not. Sophie's World is a good introduction to Philosophy and gives some idea of the mystery which surrounds what is and what is not whilst at the same time giving an overview of different Philosophical thought throughout the ages. It reminded me somewhat of Alice in Wonderland. I thought it was a good read and understandably it is a best seller....more info
  • Sophie's World: A Very Interesting Book
    The book Sophie's World by Jostien Gaarder is an extremely great read. The book offers a brief course on the history of philosophy. Along with the course, is an exciting mystery story that pulls you in and makes you want more. I would definitely recommend this book for someone who wants to learn about philosophy, or even for someone who is even slightly interested by it. But if you're not interested in the topics covered in it at all, or if they turn you off for whatever reason and you probably will not enjoy this book, because those topics are brought up a lot. But if you are even slightly interested, or just think, "Hey, this sounds like it might be a cool book," you will really enjoy reading it.
    The book starts out with a fourteen-year-old girl named Sophie walking home from school with her best friend Joanna. They are discussing robots. Joanna says that the human brain is a lot like a robot, but Sophie does not agree with her. She feels like a person has to be more than just a piece of hardware. When she gets home, she looks in the mailbox to discover a white envelope. She opens it only to find one small slip of paper inside of it. Written on the paper is, "Who Are You?" This gets Sophie thinking. She knew that she was Sophie Amundsen, but is she more than that? Is she less than that? After all, it's a really big world. Soon afterwards she gets an another envelope in the mail with a piece of paper reading, "Where does the world come from?" written on it. This starts a mad rush of thoughts to go through Sophie's head. She starts to constantly think about the notes from the philosopher and what they mean. Before long, she is on a correspondence course with the mysterious philosopher, learning more and more about the history of philosophy as the book goes on. The story will keep you pulled into the book, and will make sure you don't get bored while you're reading it.
    One thing that I really enjoy about this book is that unlike most mystery stories, where you don't know anything until the very end, you find out the answers to the various questions in the story slowly as the book goes on. So if you're one of those people who likes to skip ahead to the very end of a mystery book to see what happens in the end, this book is not for you. This aspect of the book keeps you compelled and alert, making sure to watch out for possible hints in the philosopher's letters and lessons about what some of the answers might be. I find that this is a good aspect because it makes sure that you concentrate on what is going on.
    Sophie's World is an extremely interesting book. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who is at all interesting in philosophy or for anyone who just wants to read a really great book. It teaches a very important history and pulls you in at the same time. If you get on a roll reading it, it gets hard to put down. I'll end by saying that I read this book for a school project, in which I was only required to read the first half of the book, but it's so interesting I'm going to finish it....more info
  • Excellent
    I finished this novel in three days, as I was so intrigued by the ideas presented. The five hundred plus pages seem infinite at first, but the philosophical theories are so excellently formed that they just fly by.
    Sophie's World is an excellent read for any person who is interested in philosophy, and wants to know theories wihout actually having to read Plato or Descartes. The author obviously knows his stuff, so you are thinking constantly while reading about the theories presented, and most importantly, are intrigued to know more about the snippets of each philosopher.
    It would be a daunting task for anyone, to write the history of philosophy in just five hundred pages. However, Jostein Gaarder rises to the challenge magnificently.
    Before you run to buy this book, it is important to know that this is not a novel for people who like action or "brain candy" stories. At times, the theories do become slightly dry, and you almost wish there was more of a story.
    This is the whole reason that I knocked off a star. I wish that Gaarder had spent as much time developing his story and characters, as much as he did his research. When I finished reading, I was satisfied that I had learned an infinite amount of philosophy in just three days, but felt cheated that I did not learn about Sophie, the magical woods, the major, etc. In a sense, the research needed to be incorporated with the story, instead of textbook form, to create an even better work.
    Except for that small flaw, I loved this book. Stories like these make me have faith in the literary world once more.
    After reading, as there are only snippets about each philosopher, it might be good to research and read more about the ones whose theories were the most interesting. Therefore, a bigger picture can be gained even more. ...more info
  • Incredible
    Thank you, Mr Gaarder.
    This book opened a world of ideas for me.
    It succeeded in its purpose of making philosophy a much more accesssible part of life, not merely a study of meaning, purpose, thought and ideas, but actually real and applicable. Having followed more than one philosophy course in the past, I found this book to be at least as useful and infomative, if not more so.
    An incredible resource, reference book and a good story too; this is what he does, Mr Gaarder, he takes a concept, a principle, field, or a historical person, and breathes life into it. Love it!...more info
  • overrated, mediocre fiction, but nice to philosophy
    no one should mistake this for masterful fiction. it is not. rather gaarder's story is a nice delivery vehicle for a basic and interesting introduction to philosophy.
    so if you are looking for great literature, look elsewhere. if you are looking for an easy to read and relatively entertaining [though lengthy] introduction to western philosophy, pick this up....more info
  • worst book i've read
    This book was terrible! I actually enjoy philosophy but even the philosophic parts were terrible. This book was incredibly slow and dry and the plot was ridiculous. I can see what the author was trying to get at but it was just completely awful, if i could give this book negative stars i would....more info
  • Philosophy...Through The Eyes of a Child
    Sophie's World is a book about the history of philosophy. It is through the eyes of a fourteen year old girl named Sophie Amundsen, who is the main character of the book. She has had a perfectly normal life until one day she gets a mysterious letter from a complete stranger. He becomes Sophie's philosophy teacher. His name is Alberto Knox. Throughout the book, Alberto writes letters to Sophie. Each day, Sophie has her philosophy course through the letters that he writes to her. Sophie sometimes dozes off into her own world where she only thinks about philosophy and where the world came from. Sophie's deep interest in philosophy and history makes her friendship with her friend, Joanna, fall apart, and also make her mom think that she is on drugs. In my opinion, Sophie is a wonderful, bright girl who has a brilliant mind and a logical way of thinking.
    Part of this book is about the science of philosophy, and another part is the history of philosophy. While I read the science part of the book, it was a review for me, because I had already learned the material in biology. When I read the history of philosophy, it got me really interested. I especially liked when Alberto was talking about the myths that people believed in long ago. There was a myth that I really enjoyed reading. It was about a god named Thor and his hammer. Thor was a god of fertility, and he controlled the weather with his hammer. For instance, if he was swinging his hammer, that meant he was bringing rain on earth. It was interesting to see how people long ago believed how the world worked around them.
    I didn't like how the book had big amounts of science information at once, because those parts were not so interesting to me. It felt like I was reading a science textbook instead of a novel. Other than that, the book is very interesting and exciting. If you don't know anything about philosophy, and you want to learn it in an enjoyable and exciting way, this is the book for you.
    ...more info
  • Pleasant and satisfying
    This is a great introduction to philosophy, wrapped in a novel. The novel itself is weak, and in my opinion a little bit creepy. But it did help me keep reading. The great strength of this book, the thing that may make you want to share it with others, is the explanation of philosophy. It's understandable and very interesting, and more or less covers the entire history of the philosophy of Europe and North America. Reading this book, one can see how the big ideas emerged over time, in religion, science, art, government, culture, and so on. It makes history seem lively and real, and old ideas seem relevant and important today.

    Not everything in this book agrees with every other thing I've read about Western philosophy, but I appreciated the readability and the way it ties things together. Some good companion readings might include Robinson's "Introducing Philosophy" and Paul Strathern's "90 Minutes" series (e.g., "Aristotle in 90 Minutes"). I do think I'll read this book again, and I've given several copies as gifts. If you want one book to read as an introduction to Western thought, this would be a good choice....more info
  • I love this book
    I've never studied philosophy before so I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It changed the way I think about life. ...more info
  • Great Book!!
    10,000 times better than reading a textbook on the material. Definitely a smart purchase!!...more info
  • Great Condition
    The book is in perfect condition. However, shipping took a couple days longer than stated....more info
  • I felt the need to say this, so that others may be informed
    I've never written a review on Amazon before, even though I love Amazon, it's great, and have been using it for years. However. I honestly felt the need to post this, after I saw the rating this book has been given.

    This book is terrible.

    On the back of this book, if memory serves me right, some critic called it a tour de force. That is completely, inexcusably wrong. It is not a tour de force. It's a tour de vomit, i.e., if you took a tour of the history of vomit, sludged through it, then you would have also experienced this book. It is just terrible. The "plot" with "Sophie" that runs through the entirety of this book made me physically cringe. I felt embarrassed for both myself and the author. I hid the cover so that no one could see what I was reading. I only finished it because I am a diligent student who finishes what he starts. Like Jumanji. I had to do it. I almost wanted to see just how godawful this book could get.

    When I finished it I felt like I had just slept with my mother.

    If you want to learn about different philosophers' philosophies, then go to a library or use wikipedia. Wanting to know about the history of philosophy is a noble endeavor, wanting to read this book is not. Sophie's World reads like it was written by something the cat dragged in. Something a very boring, uncreative, and morbidly obese cat dragged in. Jostein Gaarder must have some sort of brain-wasting disease. If that is true, then I feel bad for him and I'm sorry for being so harsh. If it is not true then he should be deeply ashamed of himself. And he should issue a public apology for writing this... thing.

    I'm certain the SW fans are going to tag this review as unhelpful, and that's their thing, but to YOU, the potential reader of this book, I beg you, do more research, don't read this book! If there are any spelling errors in this review it is only because I read Sophie's World and became stupider because of it....more info
  • Love it!
    To date I've bought 27, yes twenty-seven, copiesof this book. Jostein Gaarder did a great job writing it. Sophie is a young girl, who finds herself enrolling in... a correspondence course of sorts regarding philosophy... before long she finds herself in an Alice-in-Wonderland sort of aventure through her life, and someone named Helga's. The book was written for children, by a childrens teacher to help them learn philosophy and to help develop a philisophical view on life. I've given a copy of this book to many many people that I know and they've all enjoyed it. I suggest reading it a few times after you purchase it. Now stop reading my review and BUY THIS BOOK!

    -Ryan Mercer...more info
  • A beautiful book that establishes a stepping stone towards philosophy for beginners.
    Sophie's world is a wonderful book that shares an appealing adventure of a little girl named Sophie Amundsen in search of herself and her role in the world that bore her. Sophie comes home from school one day to find a letter from a mysterious man Alberto, asking her two questions that we often overlook in our daily lives; "who are you?" And "were do we come from?" Thus, leading Sophie into an adventure of a philosophical journey gaining knowledge and wisdom from studing such philosophers like Plato all the way to contemporary thought of existentialism of Satre.
    The book has a mindbending twist that will expand the mind to another channel of thought that will leave one in utter suprise. The book is well written, and written by one of my favorite authors, but it does have weaknesses.
    The book is very informative about the history of philosophy and the study of ideas by many important philosophers, but at times it seems that your reading out of a school textbook rather than adventurous story. Jostein Gaarder wastes no time in getting the reader's attention at the beginning of the first chapter, but towards the end it seems some parts of the story comes out of place. For example, the folk story characters that Jostein uses to get his point across in the book at times seems kind of childish and silly. But none the less, this is a an amazing book overall and should be read by anyone who has a interest in philosophy, because this book helps people establish a fine grasp of western philosophy in laymen's terms.
    Jostein Gaarder is an amazing author and I recommend his other great novel, The Solitare Mystery, another amazing philosophical book filled with hope and belonging. I hope this review is helpful and encourages you to read this wonderful book.
    -"know thyself" ...more info
  • A little brief, but...
    It is a creative way to introduce philiosophic concepts to high schoolers. A number of important philsophers are not discussed at all or very cursorily. No mention at all is made of Roman philosophy, nothing is mentioned about John Dewey's philosophy and nothing about the pragmatic views of William James. Much more could have and should have been done with Francis Bacon. But, much is accomplished in only a few hundred pages. A worthy effort...more info
  • Excellent History of Philosophy
    Truly an excellent and engaging history of philosophy written so as to avoid "dry textbook syndrome." The novel part turns a bit weird toward the end and the treatment of the earlier philosophers is better than the more recent philosophers but, overall, the author does an outstanding job of teaching a beginning history of philosophy course in a highly enjoyable format. ...more info
  • This Book is Garbage
    This book is absolute garbage. This text is approachable, but at the expense of insight and substance. If you can choke down the terrible, tacked on plot, you will be left with a trite and cursory look at basic philosophical issues. It reads like it was written by the book's moronic main character....more info
  • Sophie's World Review
    Sophie's World is the best book I have ever read. It caught my attention from the very first chapter. This is the perfect kind of book for people like me because I'm not a fan of texts books but in this book you learn history and you have a great story in the same book!

    One of the few things I disliked about this book was the amount of pages that it spent talking just about Christianity and even though I understand that it was linked to the material I believe the author could've left some of those parts out. Other than that, TERREFIC book!!...more info
  • Philosophy for the uninitiated
    This is a book to teach young adults about philosophy and ideas that have influenced the world. 15 year old Sophie starts to receive messages that ask her to think about who she is and where the world comes from. Then Alberto Knox sends her lessons about philosophers' attempts to ask and answer philosophical questions. The lessons cover highlights of 2000 years of philosophical thought. She also begins to receive some postcards from a UN observer in Lebanon. The philosophy lessons are made interesting by the story of Sophie trying to figure out why she is receiving the lessons and the postcards. This book is not only a great introduction to philosophy for young adults but would be a fascinating read for everyone who heard about different philosophers' ideas throughout their lives but never really got around to reading about philosophy....more info
  • A history of philosophy that is almost ruined by its story
    There are two ways that you can view Sophie's World. You can see it as a novel that teaches you about the history of philosophy, or you can see it as a book about the history of philosophy with a story attached. I prefer to think of it as the latter, because about halfway through the book, the story gets very, very, silly, very, very fast. This story starts off as a mystery involving a philosophy course that came out of nowhere, strange postcards, and a god like being only known as The Major. But around the halfway point of the story, the narrative loses all reason, and becomes absurd. Dogs start talking, mirrors start winking, and characters from fairy tales randomly show up. Even through this, the philosophy sections of the book stay strong. These sections start off with the early Greek philosophers, then advances on to more recent philosophers, like Freud and Marx. These sections are mainly shown as dialogs between the two main characters, and do a great job of teaching about philosophy. These sections are the highlights of the book. It's like taking a class on philosophy in book form. So if you can get through the annoying story, and appreciate the philosophy, you should like this book. ...more info
  • Great Introduction to the History of Philosophy
    I found this to be a great overview of the history of philosophy. Although the storyline probably did help maintain my interest, this is not a great novel by any means. As a book on philosphy, it is probably not for someone who is already well versed in the subject. But for your average college level reader, and probably for an above average teen, this is a great introduction to philosphy. ...more info
  • Poorly written, half-baked...
    ... but if you loved the movie What the Bleep Do We Know, then you will be doubtless swept away by the warm and fuzzy feeling of this trite plot and rather cursory and one-dimensional examination of Western philosophy, which completely dismisses or ignores Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Husserl, Schopenhauer, Habermas, Foucault, Heidegger, and others (and totally misses the mark in its analysis of Sartre's humanism). ...more info
  • Michelle on Sophie
    Mr. Gaarder has combined the serious subject of the history of philosophy with a entertaining fictional story that keeps the reader not only focused, but entertained....more info
  • a simple-mimded author
    I regard the author as simple minded, almost primitive in his thought processes. He rehashes old points of view with a sense of his own moral superiority. Disgraceful....more info
  • It Will Take Your Breath Away
    This book was recommended reading by my 12th grade Humanities teacher, who asked the entire class to read it the summer before school started. I duly purchased it, but couldn't get past the long section on Plato, and put it aside for possible future reading. I picked it up again about two years later, and for some reason, forced myself through the long, sometimes tedious lectures that Alberto gives Sophie and found an extremely compelling story underneath. I have since read it two more times, and each time I find myself more and more fascinated by the philosophical material and find myself now enjoying the stories of the great philosophers and thinkers in history. Although some may feel that this book is dry and dense, it really speaks to me, and should appeal to anyone who is interested in history, philosophy, or has ever asked themselves the questions, "Who am I?" and "Why is the world the way it is?"...more info
  • The subtitle says it best...
    Subtitled "A Novel About the History of Philosophy," Sophie's World is a a unique and intriguing book that blends a basic history of philosophy with an enjoyable story, a philosophical mystery. The history of philosophy is very basic and most appropriate for those without much exposure to the field or a very rusty and rudimentary knowledge of it. The upper school where Mike teaches owns a class set and used it in a Western Civ class last year, which is how I was introduced to the book. I would recommend it to homeschoolers (appropriate for teenagers) and adults who are ashamed of their grasp of the history of the big questions. At the very least, it will give you a rubric and help to direct you to philosophical movements you might want to investigate more deeply....more info