Philosophy books, by their very nature, are for the long term; written to make us think about certain aspects of life on a more-than-temporary basis and to – hopefully – get us to carry their ideas with us. However, particularly with the older texts, they’re also ridiculously long and nigh-on impossible to understand due to a poor Greek translation!
[Enter stage left: Glyn Hughes] “That’s where ‘Squashed Philosophers’ comes in! The books which defined the way The West thinks now… in their own words… but condensed and abridged into something like readable.”
I apologise for the dramatics, but Glyn Hughes’ website, Squashed Philosophers, is one of the best websites I’ve Stumble’d Upon in quite a while, and the idea behind it is so simple: take a long, complex text and create a new, condensed version of it without sacrificing the original words or important facts and/or ideas.
With 51 books so far and the 52nd in progress, I was most impressed to see that the philosophers chosen for the ‘project’ also include non-classical figures in western culture and thinking. For example, Freud’s ‘Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis’ is present, condensed to 6,847 words (13%) and has an estimated reading time of 27 minutes. Included in this is a further piece of text (also present in all the other abridged texts): ‘The Very Squashed Version’, weighing in at 466 words!
Others of note include Alan Turing (the ‘Father of Computing’), Hitler, Darwin and the usual suspects such as Aristotle, Sartre and Descartes.
That’s not all though… on the same website Squashed Writers is a list of (currently) 246 books – fiction and non-fiction – that have had the ‘Squashed’ treatment. In Glyn’s own words:
“All the books you think you ought to have read… in their own words… but magically Squashed into half-hour short stories.”
Magic or not, that’s not the issue – what we have here is a great selection of abridged texts that are the perfect accompaniments to the original to aid understanding or, if you really don’t have much time, as a replacement! I just wish they were released under a Creative Commons license (maybe ‘by-nc-nd‘ or ‘by-nc-sa‘ – non-commercial as the book is sold on Amazon).
[Exit stage right: Glyn Hughes]