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.
In Essential Vulnerabilities, Deborah Achtenberg contests Emmanuel Levinas’s idea that Plato is a philosopher of freedom for whom thought is a return to the self. To the contrary, she agrees, Plato, like Levinas, is a philosopher of the other. While they share the view that human beings are essentially vulnerable and in relation to others, they conceive human vulnerability and responsiveness differently.
For Plato, when ones see beauty in others, one is overwhelmed by the beauty of what is, by the vision of eternal form. For Levinas, on the other hand, we are disrupted by the newness, foreignness, or singularity of the other. For him, the other is not eternal, but new or foreign. The other is an unknowable singularity. By bringing into focus these similarities and differences, Achtenberg resituates Plato in relation to Levinas and opens up two contrasting ways that self is essentially in relation to others.
Infinite Phenomenology builds on John Russon’s earlier book, Reading Hegel’s Phenomenology, to offer a second reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Here again, Russon writes in a lucid, engaging style and, through careful attention to the text and a subtle attunement to the existential questions that haunt human life, he demonstrates how powerfully Hegel’s philosophy can speak to the basic questions of philosophy. In addition to original studies of all the major sections of the Phenomenology, Russon discusses complementary texts by Hegel, namely, the Philosophy of Spirit, the Philosophy of Right, and the Science of Logic. He concludes with an appendix that discusses the reception and appropriation of Hegel’s Phenomenology in twentieth-century French philosophy. As with Russon’s earlier work, Infinite Phenomenology will remain essential reading for those looking to engage Hegel’s essential, yet difficult, text.
In Mortal Imitations of Divine Life, Diamond offers an interpretation of De Anima, which explains how and why Aristotle places souls in a hierarchy of value. Aristotle’s central intention in De Anima is to discover the nature and essence of soul—the principle of living beings. He does so by identifying the common structures underlying every living activity, whether it be eating, perceiving, thinking, or moving through space. As Diamond demonstrates through close readings of De Anima, the nature of the soul is most clearly seen in its divine life, while the embodied soul’s other activities are progressively clear approximations of this principle. This interpretation shows how Aristotle’s psychology and biology cannot be properly understood apart from his theological conception of God as life, and offers a new explanation of De Anima’s unity of purpose and structure.
In this interpretive commentary on Theaetetus, Gregory Kirk makes a major contribution to scholarship on Plato by emphasizing the relevance of the interpersonal dynamics between the interlocutors for the interpretation of the dialogue’s central arguments about knowledge. Kirk attends closely to the personalities of the participants in the dialogue, focusing especially on the unique demands faced by a student—in this case, Theaetetus—and the ways in which one can embrace or deflect the responsibilities of learning. Kirk’s approach gives equal consideration to the dual demands of dramatic interpretation and philosophical argument that constitute the unique character of the Platonic text, and he develops an original interpretation of the Theaetetus, concluding that the uncertainty that characterizes wisdom supersedes the certainty of knowledge.
An oracle was reported to have said, "No one is wiser than Socrates." And in fact it was Socrates’ life’s work to interpret these words, which demanded and defined the practice of philosophy. Each of these original essays attends carefully to the specifics of the Apology, looking to its dramatic details, its philosophic teaching, and its complexity as a work of writing to bring into focus the "Socrates" of the Apology.
Overall, the contributors, distinguished scholars of ancient philosophy, share a belief in the unity of the letter and the spirit of Platonic philosophy: the conviction that the Platonic text cannot be reached except through reading and cannot be read except through thinking. In this way, the readings in this volume mirror Socrates’ own hermeneutical practice of uniting the demands of the mind and the demands of the text—the Socratic "examination." The result, true to the Socratic injunction that the unexamined life is not worth living, continues that practice of examination, here offering a reexamination of Socrates in the Apology.
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.
In this book, Eric Sanday boldly demonstrates that Plato’s “theory of forms” is true, easy to understand, and relatively intuitive. Sanday argues that our chief obstacle to understanding the theory of forms is the distorting effect of the tacit metaphysical privileging of individual things in our everyday understanding. For Plato, this privileging of things that we can own, produce, exchange, and through which we gain mastery of our surroundings is a significant obstacle to philosophical education. The dialogue’s chief philosophical work, then, is to destabilize this false privileging and, in Parmenides, to provide the initial framework for a newly oriented account of participation. Once we do this, Sanday argues, we more easily can grasp and see the truth of the theory of forms.