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: The assumptions we make about human nature form the basis of how we ourselves live, and of how society is organized. This book deals with the ideas of ten of the most influential thinkers in the history of Western thought. Wars have been fought and revolutions begun because of some of the theories discussed. They form the basis of many important views in religion, politics and beyond, and as such cannot be ignored. The book examines the thinkers in their historical context and looks for their relevance to contemporary controversies. The author is a philosopher, but the significance of the ideas go far beyond the confines of modern philosophy. Of the thinkers discussed Aquinas was primarily a theologian, Darwin a naturalist and biologist, Marx an economist and Freud a psychologist. The book begins with the ideas of Plato and Aristotle which form the basis of much Western thought. Of the other philosophers, Hobbes and Hume still influence philosophical discussion, while Nietzsche's views have a powerful effect on contemporary thought. Modern philosophy is represented by Wittgenstein. The various thinkers have not been arbitrarily selected but each has strong links with many of the others. The ideas explained include perennial philosophical problems, such as the connection of mind and body, life after death, the place of reason in human behaviour, free-will and determinism, the relationship between the individual and the community and the problem of relativism. The book presupposes no previous knowledge of philosophy, and is an ideal introduction to the subject. At the same time, it provides an important survey of ideas that are at the root of every intellectual discipline dealing with human beings.