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By: J.R. Wordie

Philosophy in History: How Ideas Have Shaped Our World

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What kind of forces have shaped our modern world? Have they been political, economic, scientific, or perhaps even theological? The answer is that all of these forces have been at work, but they have all been the product of ideas, as our views on all of these topics have changed over time. Can ideas be more powerful than armies? Surprisingly, the answer is ‘yes’. History teaches us that nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Throughout history, rulers, generals and in our own day even stockbrokers and plutocrats have always imagined themselves to be in charge, with that last group even describing themselves as ‘masters of the universe’. In reality, however, all of these individuals have themselves been the products of ideas, owing their positions entirely to existing trends of thought. How this has come about and how it has delivered for us our present-day world are the themes explained in this book.

  James Ross Wordie was educated at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, and Queens’ College Cambridge, where he took a degree in History in 1963. He then spent a further year at Cambridge, taking a PGCE at Cambridge University’s Department of Education, intending to teach at a school or college. However, he was persuaded to begin PhD research at the University of Reading, specialising in Agricultural History. This PhD was completed in 1967, and he next began to lecture at St. David’s College in Lampeter, which was then the oldest  constituent college of the federal University of Wales.  In 1970 he returned to the University of Reading where he lectured on British Social and Economic History until his retirement from lecturing in 2004.


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