Antisthenes of Athens (c. 445-365 BCE) was a famous ancient disciple of Socrates, senior to Plato by fifteen years and inspirational to Xenophon. He is relevant to two of the greatest turning points in ancient intellectual history, from pre-Socraticism to Socraticism, and from classical Athens to the Hellenistic period. A better understanding of Antisthenes leads to a better understanding of the intellectual culture of Athens that shaped Plato and laid the foundations for Hellenistic philosophy and literature as well. Antisthenes wrote prolifically, but little of this text remains today. Susan Prince has collected all the surviving passages that pertain most closely to Antisthenes’ ancient reputation and literary production, translates them into English for the first time, and sets out the parameters for their interpretation, with close attention to the role Antisthenes likely played in the literary agenda of each ancient author who cited him.
This is the first translation of Antisthenes’ remains into English. Chapters present the ancient source, the original Greek passage, and necessary critical apparatus. The author then adds the modern English translation and notes on the context of the preservation, the significance of the testimonium, and on the Greek. Several new readings are proposed.
Antisthenes of Athens will be of interest to anyone seeking to understand Antisthenes and his intellectual context, as well as his contributions to ancient literary criticism, views on discourse, and ethics.
This volume brings together Seth Benardete's studies of Hesiod's Theogony, Homer's Iliad, and Greek tragedy, of eleven Platonic dialogues, and Aristotle's Metaphysics. These essays, some never before published, others difficult to find, span four decades of his work and document its impressive range. Benardete's philosophic reading of the poets and his poetic reading of the philosophers share a common ground that makes this collection a whole. The key, suggested by his reflections on Leo Strauss in the last piece, lies in the question of how to read Plato. Benardete's way is characterized not just by careful attention to the literary form that separates doctrine from dialogue, and speeches from deed; rather, by following the dynamic of these differences, he uncovers the argument that belongs to the dialogue as a whole. The "turnaround" such an argument undergoes bears consequences for understanding the dialogue as radical as the conversion of the philosopher in Plato's image of the cave.
Benardete's original interpretations are the fruits of this discovery of the "argument of the action."
For more than two thousand years. Aristotle’s “Art of Rhetoric” has shaped thought on the theory and practice of rhetoric, the art of persuasive speech. In three sections, Aristotle discusses what rhetoric is, as well as the three kinds of rhetoric (deliberative, judicial, and epideictic), the three rhetorical modes of persuasion, and the diction, style, and necessary parts of a successful speech. Throughout, Aristotle defends rhetoric as an art and a crucial tool for deliberative politics while also recognizing its capacity to be misused by unscrupulous politicians to mislead or illegitimately persuade others.
Here Robert C. Bartlett offers a literal, yet easily readable, new translation of Aristotle’s “Art of Rhetoric,” one that takes into account important alternatives in the manuscript and is fully annotated to explain historical, literary, and other allusions. Bartlett’s translation is also accompanied by an outline of the argument of each book; copious indexes, including subjects, proper names, and literary citations; a glossary of key terms; and a substantial interpretive essay.
A Companion to Ancient Philosophy
Edited and with an introduction by Sean D. Kirkland and Eric Sanday Northwestern University Press, 2018 Library of Congress B171.C67 2018 | Dewey Decimal 180
A Companion to Ancient Philosophy is a collection of essays on a broad range of themes and figures spanning the entire period extending from the Pre-Socratics to Plato, Aristotle, and the Hellenistic thinkers.
Rather than offering synoptic and summary treatments of preestablished positions and themes, these essays engage with the ancient texts directly, focusing attention on concepts that emerge as urgent in the readings themselves and then clarifying those concepts interpretively. Indeed, this is a companion volume that takes a very serious and considered approach to its designated task—accompanying readers as they move through the most crucial passages of the infinitely rich and compelling texts of the ancients. Each essay provides a tutorial in close reading and careful interpretation.
Because it offers foundational treatments of the most important works of ancient philosophy and because it, precisely by doing so, arrives at numerous original interpretive insights and suggests new directions for research in ancient philosophy, this volume should be of great value both to students just starting off reading the ancients and to established scholars still fascinated by philosophy's deepest abiding questions.
How does one die by philosophy? In Diogenes Laertius, philosophers jump into volcanoes, bury themselves in dung, get eaten by dogs, hang themselves, drown, and vanish into thin air -- sometimes all in a single lifetime. But what happens when we look beyond the fantastic and absurd to examine the particular ways that the philosophers' lives and deaths are recounted?
Ava Chitwood's reexamination of Diogenes Laertius's philosophical biographies opens a new window on the intellectual culture and context in which the work of philosophers like Empedocles, Heraclitus, and Democritus was read, received, and transmitted. Chitwood's analysis also suggests a methodology for understanding the interplay between biography and philosophy and for evaluating biographical sources.
While Chitwood's approach combines the disciplines of classical philology and philosophy, Death by Philosophy is not intended solely for the specialist. This investigation offers the modern reader a fascinating, fresh, and entertaining view of the ancient literary and philosophical world.
Ava Chitwood is Assistant Professor of Classics, at the University of South Florida.
This volume collects a series of lectures given by the renowned French thinker Michel Foucault late in his career. The book is composed of two parts: a talk, Parrēsia, delivered at the University of Grenoble in 1982, and a series of lectures entitled “Discourse and Truth,” given at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983, which appears here for the first time in its full and correct form. Together, they provide an unprecedented account of Foucault’s reading of the Greek concept of parrēsia, often translated as “truth-telling” or “frank speech.” The lectures trace the transformation of this concept across Greek, Roman, and early Christian thought, from its origins in pre-Socratic Greece to its role as a central element of the relationship between teacher and student. In mapping the concept’s history, Foucault’s concern is not to advocate for free speech; rather, his aim is to explore the moral and political position one must occupy in order to take the risk to speak truthfully.
These lectures—carefully edited and including notes and introductory material to fully illuminate Foucault’s insights—are a major addition to Foucault’s English language corpus.
Early Greek Philosophy
Joe McCoy Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress B187.5.E27 2013 | Dewey Decimal 182
The philosophy of the Presocratics still governs scholarly discussion today. This important volume grapples with a host of philosophical issues and philological and historical problems inherent in interpreting Presocratic philosophers.
By turns wickedly funny and profoundly illuminating, Encounters and Reflections presents a captivating and unconventional portrait of the life and works of Seth Benardete. One of the leading scholars of ancient thought, Benardete here reflects on both the people he knew and the topics that fascinated him throughout his career in a series of candid, freewheeling conversations with Robert Berman, Ronna Burger, and Michael Davis.
The first part of the book discloses vignettes about fellow students, colleagues, and acquaintances of Benardete's who later became major figures in the academic and intellectual life of twentieth-century America. We glimpse the student days of Allan Bloom, Stanley Rosen, George Steiner, and we discover the life of the mind as lived by well-known scholars such as David Grene, Jacob Klein, and Benardete's mentor Leo Strauss. We also encounter a number of other learned, devoted, and sometimes eccentric luminaries, including T.S. Eliot, James Baldwin, Werner Jaeger, John Davidson Beazley, and Willard Quine. In the book's second part, Benardete reflects on his own intellectual growth and on his ever-evolving understanding of the texts and ideas he spent a lifetime studying. Revisiting some of his recurrent themes—among them eros and the beautiful, the city and the law, and the gods and the human soul—Benardete shares his views on thinkers such as Plato, Homer, and Heidegger, as well as the relations between philosophy and science and between Christianity and ancient Roman thought.
Engaging and informative, Encounters and Reflections brings Benardete's thought to life to enlighten and inspire a new generation of thinkers.
The Enduring Importance of Leo Strauss takes on the crucial task of separating what is truly important in the work of Leo Strauss from the ephemeral politics associated with his school. Laurence Lampert focuses on exotericism: the use of artful rhetoric to simultaneously communicate a socially responsible message to the public at large and a more radical message of philosophic truth to a smaller, more intellectually inclined audience. Largely forgotten after the Enlightenment, exotericism, he shows, deeply informed Strauss both as a reader and as a philosophic writer—indeed, Lampert argues, Strauss learned from the finest practitioners of exoteric writing how to become one himself.
Examining some of Strauss’s most important books and essays through this exoteric lens, Lampert reevaluates not only Strauss but the philosophers—from Plato to Halevi to Nietzsche—with whom Strauss most deeply engaged. Ultimately Lampert shows that Strauss’s famous distinction between ancient and modern thinkers is primarily rhetorical, one of the great examples of Strauss’s exoteric craft. Celebrating Strauss’s achievements while recognizing one main shortcoming—unlike Nietzsche, he failed to appreciate the ramifications of modern natural science for philosophy and its public presentation—Lampert illuminates Strauss as having even greater philosophic importance than we have thought before.
Essays in Ancient Philosophy was first published in 1987. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
To understand ancient philosophy "in its concrete, complex detail," Michael Frede says, "one has also to look at all the other histories to which it is tied by an intricate web of casual connections which run both ways." Frede's distinctive approach to the history of ancient philosophy is closely tied to his specific interests within the field - the Hellenistic philosophers and those of late antiquity, who are the primary subjects of this book. Long ignored or even maligned, the Stoics and Skeptics, medical philosophers, and grammarians are extremely interesting once their actual views are reconstructed and it is possible to recognize their ties to earlier and later philosophical thought. Refusing to study them as paradigms of achievement, or to seek purely philosophical explanations for their views, Frede draws instead upon those "other histories"—of religion, social structure, law and politics—to illuminate their work and to show how it was interpreted and transformed by succeeding generations.
In his renowned courses at the Collège de France from 1982 to 1984, Michel Foucault devoted his lectures to meticulous readings and interpretations of the works of Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, among others. In this his aim was not, Edward F. McGushin contends, to develop a new knowledge of the history of philosophy; rather, it was to let himself be transformed by the very activity of thinking. Thus, this work shows us Foucault in the last phase of his life in the act of becoming a philosopher. Here we see how his encounter with ancient philosophy allowed him to experience the practice of philosophy as, to paraphrase Nietzsche, a way of becoming who one is: the work of self-formation that the Greeks called askesis.
Through a detailed study of Foucault's last courses, McGushin demonstrates that this new way of practicing philosophical askesis evokes Foucault's ethical resistance to modern relations of power and knowledge. In order to understand Foucault's later project, then, it is necessary to see it within the context of his earlier work. If his earlier projects represented an attempt to bring to light the relations of power and knowledge that narrowed and limited freedom, then this last project represents his effort to take back that freedom by redefining it in terms of care of the self. Foucault always stressed that modern power functions by producing individual subjects. This book shows how his excavation of ancient philosophical practices gave him the tools to counter this function-with a practice of self-formation, an askesis.
Tracing the interrelationship among play, poetic imitation, and power to the Hellenic world, Mihai I. Spariosu provides a revisionist model of cultural change in Greek antiquity. Challenging the traditional and static distinction made between archaic and later Greek culture, Spariosu’s perspective is grounded in a dialectical understanding of values whose dominance depends on cultural emphasis and which shifts through time. Building upon the scholarship of an earlier volume, Dionysus Reborn, Spariosu her continues to draw on Dionysus—the “God of many names,” of both poetic play and sacred power—as a mythical embodiment of the two sides of the classical Greek mentality. Combining philosophical reflection with close textual analysis, the author examines the divided nature of the Hellenic mentality in such primary canonic texts as the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Theogony, Works and Days, the most well-known of the Presocratic fragments, Euripides’ Bacchae, Aristophanes’ The Frogs, Plato’s Republic and Laws, and Aristotle’s Poetics and Politics. Spariosu’s model illuminates the many of the most enduring questions in contemporary humanistic study and addresses modern questions about the nature of the interrelation of poetry, ethics, and politics.
A. A. Long’s study of Greek notions of mind and human selfhood is anchored in questions of universal interest. What happens to us when we die? How is the mind or soul related to the body? Are we responsible for our own happiness? Can we achieve autonomy? Long shows that Greek thinkers’ modeling of the mind gave us metaphors that we still live by.
Arthur W. H. Adkins's writings have sparked debates among a wide range of scholars over the nature of ancient Greek ethics and its relevance to modern times. Demonstrating the breadth of his influence, the essays in this volume reveal how leading classicists, philosophers, legal theorists, and scholars of religion have incorporated Adkins's thought into their own diverse research.
The timely subjects addressed by the contributors include the relation between literature and moral understanding, moral and nonmoral values, and the contemporary meaning of ancient Greek ethics. The volume also includes an essay from the late Adkins himself illustrating his methodology in an analysis of the "Speech of Lysias" in Plato's Phaedrus.
The Greeks and Us will interest all those concerned with how ancient moral values do or do not differ from our own.
Contributors include Arthur W. H. Adkins, Stephanie Nelson, Martha C. Nussbaum, Paul Schollmeier, James Boyd White, Bernard Williams, and Lee Yearley.
Commentaries by Wendy Doniger, Charles M. Gray, David Grene, Robert B. Louden, Richard Posner, and Candace Vogler.
Plato’s dialogues show Socrates at different ages, beginning when he was about nineteen and already deeply immersed in philosophy and ending with his execution five decades later. By presenting his model philosopher across a fifty-year span of his life, Plato leads his readers to wonder: does that time period correspond to the development of Socrates’ thought? In this magisterial investigation of the evolution of Socrates’ philosophy, Laurence Lampert answers in the affirmative.
The chronological route that Plato maps for us, Lampert argues, reveals the enduring record of philosophy as it gradually took the form that came to dominate the life of the mind in the West. The reader accompanies Socrates as he breaks with the century-old tradition of philosophy, turns to his own path, gradually enters into a deeper understanding of nature and human nature, and discovers the successful way to transmit his wisdom to the wider world. Focusing on the final and most prominent step in that process and offering detailed textual analysis of Plato’s Protagoras, Charmides, and Republic, How Philosophy Became Socratic charts Socrates’ gradual discovery of a proper politics to shelter and advance philosophy.
Dale B. MARTIN Harvard University Press, 2004 Library of Congress B187.R46M37 2004 | Dewey Decimal 398.410901
The Roman author Pliny the Younger characterizes Christianity as "contagious superstition"; two centuries later the Christian writer Eusebius vigorously denounces Greek and Roman religions as vain and impotent "superstitions." The term of abuse is the same, yet the two writers suggest entirely different things by "superstition."
Dale Martin provides the first detailed genealogy of the idea of superstition, its history over eight centuries, from classical Greece to the Christianized Roman Empire of the fourth century C.E. With illuminating reference to the writings of philosophers, historians, and medical teachers he demonstrates that the concept of superstition was invented by Greek intellectuals to condemn popular religious practices and beliefs, especially the belief that gods or other superhuman beings would harm people or cause disease. Tracing the social, political, and cultural influences that informed classical thinking about piety and superstition, nature and the divine, Inventing Superstition exposes the manipulation of the label of superstition in arguments between Greek and Roman intellectuals on the one hand and Christians on the other, and the purposeful alteration of the idea by Neoplatonic philosophers and Christian apologists in late antiquity.
Inventing Superstition weaves a powerfully coherent argument that will transform our understanding of religion in Greek and Roman culture and the wider ancient Mediterranean world.
In Isonomia and the Origins of Philosophy—published originally in Japanese and now available in four languages—Kōjin Karatani questions the idealization of ancient Athens as the source of philosophy and democracy by placing the origins instead in Ionia, a set of Greek colonies located in present-day Turkey. Contrasting Athenian democracy with Ionian isonomia—a system based on non-rule and a lack of social divisions whereby equality is realized through the freedom to immigrate—Karatani shows how early Greek thinkers from Heraclitus to Pythagoras were inseparably linked to the isonomia of their Ionian origins, not democracy. He finds in isonomia a model for how an egalitarian society not driven by class antagonism might be put into practice, and resituates Socrates's work and that of his intellectual heirs as the last philosophical attempts to practice isonomia's utopic potentials. Karatani subtly interrogates the democratic commitments of Western philosophy from within and argues that the key to transcending their contradictions lies not in Athenian democracy, with its echoes of imperialism, slavery, and exclusion, but in the openness of isonomia.
With The Lucretian Renaissance, Gerard Passannante offers a radical rethinking of a familiar narrative: the rise of materialism in early modern Europe. Passannante begins by taking up the ancient philosophical notion that the world is composed of two fundamental opposites: atoms, as the philosopher Epicurus theorized, intrinsically unchangeable and moving about the void; and the void itself, or nothingness. Passannante considers the fact that this strain of ancient Greek philosophy survived and was transmitted to the Renaissance primarily by means of a poem that had seemingly been lost—a poem insisting that the letters of the alphabet are like the atoms that make up the universe.
By tracing this elemental analogy through the fortunes of Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things, Passannante argues that, long before it took on its familiar shape during the Scientific Revolution, the philosophy of atoms and the void reemerged in the Renaissance as a story about reading and letters—a story that materialized in texts, in their physical recomposition, and in their scattering.
From the works of Virgil and Macrobius to those of Petrarch, Poliziano, Lambin, Montaigne, Bacon, Spenser, Gassendi, Henry More, and Newton, The Lucretian Renaissance recovers a forgotten history of materialism in humanist thought and scholarly practice and asks us to reconsider one of the most enduring questions of the period: what does it mean for a text, a poem, and philosophy to be “reborn”?
People in the ancient world thought of vision as both an ethical tool and a tactile sense, akin to touch. Gazing upon someone—or oneself—was treated as a path to philosophical self-knowledge, but the question of tactility introduced an erotic element as well. In The Mirror of the Self, Shadi Bartsch asserts that these links among vision, sexuality, and self-knowledge are key to the classical understanding of the self.
Weaving together literary theory, philosophy, and social history, Bartsch traces this complex notion of self from Plato’s Greece to Seneca’s Rome. She starts by showing how ancient authors envisioned the mirror as both a tool for ethical self-improvement and, paradoxically, a sign of erotic self-indulgence. Her reading of the Phaedrus, for example, demonstrates that the mirroring gaze in Plato, because of its sexual possibilities, could not be adopted by Roman philosophers and their students. Bartsch goes on to examine the Roman treatment of the ethical and sexual gaze, and she traces how self-knowledge, the philosopher’s body, and the performance of virtue all played a role in shaping the Roman understanding of the nature of selfhood. Culminating in a profoundly original reading of Medea, The Mirror of the Self illustrates how Seneca, in his Stoic quest for self-knowledge, embodies the Roman view, marking a new point in human thought about self-perception.
Bartsch leads readers on a journey that unveils divided selves, moral hypocrisy, and lustful Stoics—and offers fresh insights about seminal works. At once sexy and philosophical, The Mirror of the Self will be required reading for classicists, philosophers, and anthropologists alike.
The Master Argument, recorded by Epictetus, indicates that Diodorus had deduced a contradiction from the conjoint assertion of three propositions. The Argument, which has to do with necessity and contingency and therefore with freedom, has attracted the attention of logicians above all. There have been many attempts at reconstructing it in logical terms, without excessive worry about historical plausibility and with the foregone conclusion that it was sophistic since it directly imperilled our common sense notion of freedom. This text takes exception to recent tradition, translating the propositions into logical terms. The propositions figuring in The Master Argument are interpreted in terms of temporal modal logic where both the modalities and the statements they govern have chronological indices. This means that the force of the argument comes not from purely logical or modal considerations, but from our experience of time.
Our Divine Double
Charles M. Stang Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress B526.S73 2016 | Dewey Decimal 126
What if you were to discover that you were only one half of a whole—that you had a divine double? In the second and third centuries CE, Charles Stang shows, this idea gripped the religious imagination of the Eastern Mediterranean, offering a distinctive understanding of the self that has survived in various forms down to the present.
Plotinus, the Roman philosopher (c. 204-270 CE) who is widely regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism, was also the creator of numerous myths, images, and metaphors. They have influenced both secular philosophers and Christian and Muslim theologians, but have frequently been dismissed by modern scholars as merely ornamental. In this book, distinguished philosopher Stephen R. L. Clark shows that they form a vital set of spiritual exercises by which individuals can achieve one of Plotinus’s most important goals: self-transformation through contemplation.
Clark examines a variety of Plotinus’s myths and metaphors within the cultural and philosophical context of his time, asking probing questions about their contemplative effects. What is it, for example, to “think away the spatiality” of material things? What state of mind is Plotinus recommending when he speaks of love, or drunkenness, or nakedness? What star-like consciousness is intended when he declares that we were once stars or are stars eternally? What does it mean to say that the soul goes around God? And how are we supposed to “bring the god in us back to the god in all”? Through these rich images and structures, Clark casts Plotinus as a philosopher deeply concerned with philosophy as a way of life.
The Pocket Stoic
John Sellars University of Chicago Press, 2020 Library of Congress B528.S2978 2019 | Dewey Decimal 188
To counter the daily anxieties, stress, and emotional swings caused by the barrage of stimuli that plagues modern life, many people have been finding unexpected solace in a philosophy from a very different and distant time: Stoicism. Today, more than 100,000 people are members of online communities for modern Stoics, and there are annual conferences, meet-ups, and workshops for those aspiring to walk the Stoic path. But what is Stoicism, and what makes it resonate so powerfully today?
As John Sellars shows in The Pocket Stoic, the popular image of the isolated and unfeeling Stoic hardly does justice to the rich vein of thought that we find in the work of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, the three great Roman Stoics. Their works are recognized classics, and for good reason—they speak to some of the perennial issues that face anyone trying to navigate their way through life. These writings, fundamentally, are about how to live—how to understand your place in the world, how to cope when things don’t go well, how to manage your emotions, how to behave toward others, and finally, how to live a good life. To be a Stoic is to recognize that much of the suffering in your life is due to the way you think about things, and that you have the ability to train your mind to look at the world in a new way—to recognize what you can and cannot control and to turn adversity into opportunity.
Concise and accessible, The Pocket Stoic provides a welcome introduction to the lives and thought of the key Stoics. It is also a perfect guide to help you start incorporating the practice of Stoicism into your everyday approach to life.
When Plato set his dialogs, written texts were disseminated primarily by performance and recitation. He wrote them, however, when literacy was expanding. Jill Frank argues that there are unique insights to be gained from appreciating Plato’s dialogs as written texts to be read and reread. At the center of these insights are two distinct ways of learning to read in the dialogs. One approach that appears in the Statesman, Sophist, and Protagoras, treats learning to read as a top-down affair, in which authoritative teachers lead students to true beliefs. Another, recommended by Socrates, encourages trial and error and the formation of beliefs based on students’ own fallible experiences. In all of these dialogs, learning to read is likened to coming to know or understand something. Given Plato’s repeated presentation of the analogy between reading and coming to know, what can these two approaches tell us about his dialogs’ representations of philosophy and politics?
With Poetic Justice, Jill Frank overturns the conventional view that the Republic endorses a hierarchical ascent to knowledge and the authoritarian politics associated with that philosophy. When learning to read is understood as the passive absorption of a teacher’s beliefs, this reflects the account of Platonic philosophy as authoritative knowledge wielded by philosopher kings who ruled the ideal city. When we learn to read by way of the method Socrates introduces in the Republic, Frank argues, we are offered an education in ethical and political self-governance, one that prompts citizens to challenge all claims to authority, including those of philosophy.
Retracing the Platonic Text
John Russon and John Sallis Northwestern University Press, 1999 Library of Congress PA4291.R48 2000 | Dewey Decimal 184
Written from a Continental perspective, Retracing the Platonic Text reveals dimensions of the dialogues that are not addressed by traditional philosophy. These essays by prominent scholars focus on the texts' literary elements, in particular challenges to contemporary interpretations of the Platonic dialogue as a whole. The result illustrates the depth of Platonic thought and the debt of all philosophy to it. Retracing the Platonic Text is a pioneering effort in demonstrating how Continental philosophy both reflects and expands upon Greek philosophy.
We tend to think of rhetoric as a solely human art. After all, only humans can use language artfully to make a point, the very definition of rhetoric.
Yet when you look at ancient and early modern treatises on rhetoric, what you find is surprising: they’re crawling with animals. With Rhetoric in Tooth and Claw, Debra Hawhee explores this unexpected aspect of early thinking about rhetoric, going on from there to examine the enduring presence of nonhuman animals in rhetorical theory and education. In doing so, she not only offers a counter-history of rhetoric but also brings rhetorical studies into dialogue with animal studies, one of the most vibrant areas of interest in humanities today. By removing humanity and human reason from the center of our study of argument, Hawhee frees up space to study and emphasize other crucial components of communication, like energy, bodies, and sensation.
Drawing on thinkers from Aristotle to Erasmus, Rhetoric in Tooth and Claw tells a new story of the discipline’s history and development, one animated by the energy, force, liveliness, and diversity of our relationships with our “partners in feeling,” other animals.
Plato isn’t exactly thought of as a champion of democracy, and perhaps even less as an important rhetorical theorist. In this book, James L. Kastely recasts Plato in just these lights, offering a vivid new reading of one of Plato’s most important works: the Republic. At heart, Kastely demonstrates, the Republic is a democratic epic poem and pioneering work in rhetorical theory. Examining issues of justice, communication, persuasion, and audience, he uncovers a seedbed of theoretical ideas that resonate all the way up to our contemporary democratic practices.
As Kastely shows, the Republic begins with two interrelated crises: one rhetorical, one philosophical. In the first, democracy is defended by a discourse of justice, but no one can take this discourse seriously because no one can see—in a world where the powerful dominate the weak—how justice is a value in itself. That value must be found philosophically, but philosophy, as Plato and Socrates understand it, can reach only the very few. In order to reach its larger political audience, it must become rhetoric; it must become a persuasive part of the larger culture—which, at that time, meant epic poetry. Tracing how Plato and Socrates formulate this transformation in the Republic, Kastely isolates a crucial theory of persuasion that is central to how we talk together about justice and organize ourselves according to democratic principles.
Although the ancient Greeks did not have an anthropology as we know it, they did have an acute interest in human nature, especially questions of difference. What makes men different from women, slaves different from free men, barbarians different from Greeks? Are these differences visible in the body? How can they be classified and explained?
Maria Michela Sassi reconstructs Greek attempts to answer such questions from Homer's day to late antiquity, ranging across physiognomy, ethnography, geography, medicine, and astrology. Sassi demonstrates that in the Greek science of man, empirical observations were inextricably bound up with a prejudiced view of the free Greek male as superior to all others. Thus, because women were assumed to have pale skin from staying indoors too much, Greek biology and medicine sought to explain this feature as an indication of the "cold" nature of women, as opposed to the "hot" constitution of men.
For this English translation, Sassi has rewritten the introduction and updated the text and references throughout, and Sir Geoffrey Lloyd has provided a new foreword.
The widespread understanding of language in the West is that it represents the world. This view, however, has not always been commonplace. In fact, it is a theory of language conceived by Plato, culminating in The Sophist. In that dialogue Plato introduced the idea of statements as being either true or false, where the distinction between falsity and truth rests on a deeper discrepancy between appearance and reality, or seeming and being.
Robin Reames’s Seeming & Being in Plato’s Rhetorical Theory marks a shift in Plato scholarship. Reames argues that an appropriate understanding of rhetorical theory in Plato’s dialogues illuminates how he developed the technical vocabulary needed to construct the very distinctions between seeming and being that separate true from false speech. By engaging with three key movements of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Plato scholarship—the rise and subsequent marginalization of “orality and literacy theory,” Heidegger’s controversial critique of Platonist metaphysics, and the influence of literary or dramatic readings of the dialogues—Reames demonstrates how the development of Plato’s rhetorical theory across several of his dialogues (Gorgias, Phaedrus, Protagoras, Theaetetus, Cratylus, Republic, and Sophist) has been both neglected and misunderstood.
Socrates among Strangers
Joseph P. Lawrence Northwestern University Press, 2015 Library of Congress B317.L39 2015 | Dewey Decimal 183.2
In Socrates among Strangers, Joseph P. Lawrence reclaims the enigmatic sage from those who have seen him either as a prophet of science, seeking the security of knowledge, or as a wily actor who shed light on the dangerous world of politics while maintaining a prudent distance from it. The Socrates Lawrence seeks is the imprudent one, the man who knew how to die.
The institutionalization of philosophy in the modern world has come at the cost of its most vital concern: the achievement of life wisdom. Those who have ceased to grow (those who think they know) close their ears to the wisdom of strangers—and Socrates, who stood face to face with death, is the archetypal stranger. His avowal of ignorance, Lawrence suggests, is more needed than ever in an age defined by technical mastery and expert knowledge.
"What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Asked by the early Christian Tertullian, the question was vigorously debated in the nineteenth century. While classics dominated the intellectual life of Europe, Christianity still prevailed and conflicts raged between the religious and the secular. Taking on the question of how the glories of the classical world could be reconciled with the Bible, Socrates and the Jews explains how Judaism played a vital role in defining modern philhellenism.
Exploring the tension between Hebraism and Hellenism, Miriam Leonard gracefully probes the philosophical tradition behind the development of classical philology and considers how the conflict became a preoccupation for the leading thinkers of modernity, including Matthew Arnold, Moses Mendelssohn, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. For each, she shows how the contrast between classical and biblical traditions is central to writings about rationalism, political subjectivity, and progress. Illustrating how the encounter between Athens and Jerusalem became a lightning rod for intellectual concerns, this book is a sophisticated addition to the history of ideas.
This is the first of a four-volume history of philosophy . . . on ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary philosophy. After the fourth volume is produced in paper, a one-volume clothbound edition, containing all four paperbound editions, will be published.
Kreeft focuses on the “big ideas” that have influenced present people and present times, and includes relevant biographical data, proportionate to its importance for each thinker. Moreover, the aim of the work is to stimulate philosophizing, controversy, and argument. It uses ordinary language and logic, not jargon and symbolic logic, and it is commonsensical (like Aristotle) and existential in the sense that it sees philosophy as something to be lived and experienced in life. Philosophy, after all, is not about philosophy but reality . . . about wisdom, life and death, good and evil, and God.
Kreeft seeks to be simple and direct and clear. But it is not dumbed down and patronizing. It will stretch the reader, but it is meant for beginners, not just scholars. It can be used for college classes or do-it-yourselfers. It emphasizes surprises; remember, “philosophy begins in wonder.” And it includes visual aids: charts, cartoons, line drawings, and drawings of each philosopher.
In The Socratic Paradox and Its Enemies, Roslyn Weiss argues that the Socratic paradoxes—no one does wrong willingly, virtue is knowledge, and all the virtues are one—are best understood as Socrates’ way of combating sophistic views: that no one is willingly just, those who are just and temperate are ignorant fools, and only some virtues (courage and wisdom) but not others (justice, temperance, and piety) are marks of true excellence.
In Weiss’s view, the paradoxes express Socrates’ belief that wrongdoing fails to yield the happiness that all people want; it is therefore the unjust and immoderate who are the fools. The paradoxes thus emerge as Socrates’ means of championing the cause of justice in the face of those who would impugn it. Her fresh approach—ranging over six of Plato’s dialogues—is sure to spark debate in philosophy, classics, and political theory.
“Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Weiss, it would be hard not to admire her extraordinarily penetrating analysis of the many overlapping and interweaving arguments running through the dialogues.”—Daniel B. Gallagher, Classical Outlook
“Many scholars of Socratic philosophy . . . will wish they had written Weiss's book, or at least will wish that they had long ago read it.”—Douglas V. Henry, Review of Politics
The Socratic Way of Life is the first English-language book-length study of the philosopher Xenophon’s masterwork. In it, Thomas L. Pangle shows that Xenophon depicts more authentically than does Plato the true teachings and way of life of the citizen philosopher Socrates, founder of political philosophy.
In the first part of the book, Pangle analyzes Xenophon’s defense of Socrates against the two charges of injustice upon which he was convicted by democratic Athens: impiety and corruption of the youth. In the second part, Pangle analyzes Xenophon’s account of how Socrates’s life as a whole was just, in the sense of helping through his teaching a wide range of people. Socrates taught by never ceasing to raise, and to progress in answering, the fundamental and enduring civic questions: what is pious and impious, noble and ignoble, just and unjust, genuine statesmanship and genuine citizenship. Inspired by Hegel’s and Nietzsche’s assessments of Xenophon as the true voice of Socrates, The Socratic Way of Life establishes the Memorabilia as the groundwork of all subsequent political philosophy.
One of the central challenges to contemporary political philosophy is the apparent impossibility of arriving at any commonly agreed upon “truths.” As Nietzsche observed in his Will to Power, the currents of relativism that have come to characterize modern thought can be said to have been born with ancient sophistry. If we seek to understand the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary radical relativism, we must therefore look first to the sophists of antiquity—the most famous and challenging of whom is Protagoras.
With Sophistry and Political Philosophy, Robert C. Bartlett provides the first close reading of Plato’s two-part presentation of Protagoras. In the “Protagoras,” Plato sets out the sophist’s moral and political teachings, while the “Theaetetus,” offers a distillation of his theoretical and epistemological arguments. Taken together, the two dialogues demonstrate that Protagoras is attracted to one aspect of conventional morality—the nobility of courage, which in turn is connected to piety. This insight leads Bartlett to a consideration of the similarities and differences in the relationship of political philosophy and sophistry to pious faith. Bartlett’s superb exegesis offers a significant tool for understanding the history of philosophy, but, in tracing Socrates’s response to Protagoras’ teachings, Bartlett also builds toward a richer understanding of both ancient sophistry and what Socrates meant by “political philosophy.”
The understanding of the soul in the West has been profoundly shaped by Christianity, and its influence can be seen in certain assumptions often made about the soul: that, for example, if it does exist, it is separable from the body, free, immortal, and potentially pure. The ancient Greeks, however, conceived of the soul quite differently. In this ambitious new work, Michael Davis analyzes works by Homer, Herodotus, Euripides, Plato, and Aristotle to reveal how the ancient Greeks portrayed and understood what he calls “the fully human soul.”
Beginning with Homer’s Iliad, Davis lays out the tension within the soul of Achilles between immortality and life. He then turns to Aristotle’s De Anima and Nicomachean Ethics to explore the consequences of the problem of Achilles across the whole range of the soul’s activity. Moving to Herodotus and Euripides, Davis considers the former’s portrayal of the two extremes of culture—one rooted in stability and tradition, the other in freedom and motion—and explores how they mark the limits of character. Davis then shows how Helen and Iphigeneia among the Taurians serve to provide dramatic examples of Herodotus’s extreme cultures and their consequences for the soul. The book returns to philosophy in the final part, plumbing several Platonic dialogues—the Republic, Cleitophon, Hipparchus, Phaedrus, Euthyphro, and Symposium—to understand the soul’s imperfection in relation to law, justice, tyranny, eros, the gods, and philosophy itself. Davis concludes with Plato’s presentation of the soul of Socrates as self-aware and nontragic, even if it is necessarily alienated and divided against itself.
The Soul of the Greeks thus begins with the imperfect soul as it is manifested in Achilles’ heroic, but tragic, longing and concludes with its nontragic and fuller philosophic expression in the soul of Socrates. But, far from being a historical survey, it is instead a brilliant meditation on what lies at the heart of being human.
Thomas Aquinas and His Predecessors takes us on a voyage through the history of philosophical thought as present in the works of Thomas Aquinas. It is a synthetic presentation of the works and thought of the great predecessors of Aquinas, as he kne
Richard Sorabji here takes time as his central theme, exploring fundamental questions about its nature: Is it real or an aspect of consciousness? Did it begin along with the universe? Can anything escape from it? Does it come in atomic chunks? In addressing these and myriad other issues, Sorabji engages in an illuminating discussion of early thought about time, ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Islamic, Christian, and Jewish medieval thinkers. Sorabji argues that the thought of these often negelected philosophers about the subject is, in many cases, more complete than that of their more recent counterparts.
“Splendid. . . . The canvas is vast, the picture animated, the painter nonpareil. . . . Sorabji’s work will encourage more adventurers to follow him to this fascinating new-found land.”—Jonathan Barnes, Times Literary Supplement
“One of the most important works in the history of metaphysics to appear in English for a considerable time. No one concerned with the problems with which it deals either as a historian of ideas or as a philosopher can afford to neglect it.”—Donald MacKinnon, Scottish Journal of Theology
“Unusually readable for such scholarly content, the book provides in rich and cogent terms a lively and well-balanced discussion of matters of concern to a wide academic audience.”—Choice
Virtues of Thought
Aryeh Kosman Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress B395.K55 2013 | Dewey Decimal 184
Exploring what two foundational figures, Plato and Aristotle, have to say about the nature of human awareness and understanding, Aryeh Kosman concludes that ultimately the virtues of thought are to be found in the joys and satisfactions that come from thinking philosophically, whether we engage in it ourselves or witness others' participation.