What is the good life for a human being? Aristotle’s exploration of this question in the Nicomachean Ethics has established it as a founding work of Western philosophy, though its teachings have long puzzled readers and provoked spirited discussion. Adopting a radically new point of view, Ronna Burger deciphers some of the most perplexing conundrums of this influential treatise by approaching it as Aristotle’s dialogue with the Platonic Socrates.
Tracing the argument of the Ethics as it emerges through that approach, Burger’s careful reading shows how Aristotle represents ethical virtue from the perspective of those devoted to it while standing back to examine its assumptions and implications.
“This is the best book I have read on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. It is so well crafted that reading it is like reading the Ethics itself, in that it provides an education in ethical matters that does justice to all sides of the issues.”—Mary P. Nichols, Baylor University
“A history of philosophy in twelve thinkers…The whole performance combines polyglot philological rigor with supple intellectual sympathy, and it is all presented…in a spirit of fun…This bracing and approachable book [shows] that there is life in philosophy yet.”—Times Literary Supplement“Exceptionally engaging…Geuss has a remarkable knack for putting even familiar thinkers in a new light.”—Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews“Geuss is something like the consummate teacher, his analyses navigable and crystal, his guidance on point.”—Doug Phillips, Key ReporterRaymond Geuss explores the ideas of twelve philosophers who broke dramatically with prevailing wisdom, from Socrates and Plato in the ancient world to Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Adorno. The result is a striking account of some of the most innovative thinkers in Western history and an indirect manifesto for how to pursue philosophy today. Geuss cautions that philosophers’ attempts to break from convention do not necessarily make the world a better place. Montaigne’s ideas may have been benign, but the fate of those of Hobbes, Hegel, and Nietzsche has been more varied. Yet in the act of provoking people to think differently, philosophers remind us that we are not fated to live within the systems of thought we inherit.
There were heroic lives and deaths before and after, but none quite like Socrates'. He did not die by sword or spear, braving all to defend home and country, but as a condemned criminal, swallowing a painless dose of poison. And yet Socrates' death in 399 BCE has figured large in our world ever since, shaping how we think about heroism and celebrity, religion and family life, state control and individual freedom, the distance of intellectual life from daily activity--many of the key coordinates of Western culture. In this book Emily Wilson analyzes the enormous and enduring power the trial and death of Socrates has exerted over the Western imagination.Beginning with the accounts of contemporaries like Aristophanes, Xenophon, and, above all, Plato, the book offers a comprehensive look at the death of Socrates as both a historical event and a controversial cultural ideal. Wilson shows how Socrates' death--more than his character, actions, or philosophical beliefs--has played an essential role in his story. She considers literary, philosophical, and artistic works--by Cicero, Erasmus, Milton, Voltaire, Hegel, and Brecht, among others--that used the death of Socrates to discuss power, politics, religion, the life of the mind, and the good life. As highly readable as it is deeply learned, her book combines vivid descriptions, critical insights, and breadth of research to explore how Socrates' death--especially his seeming ability to control it--has mattered so much, for so long, to so many different people.
Plato of Athens, who laid the foundations of the Western philosophical tradition and in range and depth ranks among its greatest practitioners, was born to a prosperous and politically active family circa 427 BC. In early life an admirer of Socrates, Plato later founded the first institution of higher learning in the West, the Academy, among whose many notable alumni was Aristotle. Traditionally ascribed to Plato are thirty-five dialogues developing Socrates’ dialectic method and composed with great stylistic virtuosity, together with the Apology and thirteen letters.The four works in this volume recount the circumstances of Socrates’ trial and execution in 399 BC. In Euthyphro, set in the weeks before the trial, Socrates and Euthyphro attempt to define holiness. In Apology, Socrates answers his accusers at trial and unapologetically defends his philosophical career. In Crito, a discussion of justice and injustice explains Socrates’ refusal of Crito’s offer to finance his escape from prison. And in Phaedo, Socrates discusses the concept of an afterlife and offers arguments for the immortality of the soul. This edition, which replaces the original Loeb edition by Harold North Fowler, offers text, translation, and annotation that are fully current with modern scholarship.
Xenophon (ca. 430 to ca. 354 BCE), a member of a wealthy but politically quietist Athenian family and an admirer of Socrates, left Athens in 401 BCE to serve as a mercenary commander for Cyrus the Younger of Persia, then joined the staff of King Agesilaus II of Sparta before settling in Elis and, in the aftermath of the battle of Leuctra in 371 BCE, retiring to Corinth. His historical and biographical works, Socratic dialogues and reminiscences, and short treatises on hunting, horsemanship, economics, and the Spartan constitution are richly informative about his own life and times.This volume collects Xenophon's portrayals of his associate, Socrates. In Memorabilia (or Memoirs of Socrates) and in Oeconomicus, a dialogue about household management, we see the philosopher through Xenophon's eyes. Here, as in the accompanying Symposium, we also obtain insight on life in Athens. The volume concludes with Xenophon's Apology, an interesting complement to Plato's account of Socrates' defense at his trial.
Walter T. Schmid offers the first original interpretation of the Laches since Hermann Bonitz in the nineteenth century in the only full-length commentary on the Laches available in English.
Schmid divides the book into five main discussions: the historical background of the dialogue; the relation of form and content in a Platonic dialogue and specific structural and aesthetic features of the Laches; the first half of the dialogue, which introduces the characters and considers the theme of the education of young men; the inquiry with Laches, which examines the traditional Greek conception of military courage; and the inquiry with Nicias in which two nontraditional conceptions of courage are mooted, one closely associated with the sophistic movement in Athens, the other with Socrates himself. Furnishing a detailed paragraph-by-paragraph reading that traces Socrates’ ongoing quest for virtue and wisdom—a wisdom founded in the action of a whole human life—Schmid conclusively shows how and why the Laches fills an important niche in Plato’s moral theory.
“If only every introductory course were as engaging as Philosophy 101 by Peter Kreeft! Kreeft offers a marvelous way of using Plato’s Apology both to introduce the whole scope of philosopher and to evoke a personal response. Even the diffident freshman, prone to keeping a new subject like philosopher as arm’s length, will feel the enchantment of love-for-wisdom that philosophy is supposed to be.” – Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., chair, Department of Philosophy, Fordham University
“A terrific introduction to philosophy through this not uncontroversial commentary on Plato’s Apology. Not everyone will agree that Socrates provided the best possible defense for himself nor that he intended to. But Kreeft’s is an eminently defensible reading of the Apology and will awaken many a student to the delights of Plato and Philosophy. The comparisons of Socrates with Christ are fascinating. This book will go a long way to consoling those who are not privileged to have Socrates or Kreeft as teachers in the flesh.” – Janet Smith, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit
Plato’s dialogues are some of the most widely read texts in Western philosophy, and one would imagine them fully mined for elemental material. Yet, in Plato and Tradition, Patricia Fagan reveals the dialogues to be continuing sources of fresh insight. She recovers from them an underappreciated depth of cultural reference that is crucial to understanding their central philosophical concerns. Through careful readings of six dialogues, Fagan demonstrates that Plato’s presentation of Socrates highlights the centrality of tradition in political, erotic, and philosophic life. Plato embeds Socrates’s arguments and ideas in traditional references that would have been familiar to contemporaries of Socrates or Plato but that today’s reader typically passes over. Fagan’s book unpacks this cultural and literary context for the proper and full understanding of the philosophical argument of the Platonic dialogues. She concludes that, as Socrates demonstrates in word and deed, tradition is essential to successful living. But we must take up tradition with a critical openness to questioning its significance and future. Her original and compelling analyses may change the views of many readers who think themselves already well versed in the dialogues.
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.
When Athenians suffered the shame of having lost a war from their own greed and foolishness, around 404 BCE the public’s blame was directed at Socrates, a man whose unique appearance and behavior, as well as his disapproval of the democracy, made him a ready target. Socrates was subsequently put on trial and sentenced to death. However, as René Girard has pointed out, no individual can be held responsible for a communal crisis. Plato’s Apology depicts Socrates as both the bane and the cure of Greek society, while his Crito shows a sacrificial Socrates, what some might consider a pharmakos figure, the human drug through whom Plato can dispense his philosophical remedies. With tremendous insight and satisfying complexity, this book analyzes classical texts through the lens of Girard’s mimetic mechanism.
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.
Socrates and Legal Obligation was first published in 1981. 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.
Charged with "impiety" and sentenced to death under the law of Athens, Socrates did not try to disprove the charges or to escape death, but rather held to a different kind of rhetoric, aiming not at persuasion but at truth. In Socrates and Legal Obligation, R.E. Allen contends that Plato's works on Socrates' acceptance of death—the Apology and the Crito — should be considered together and as such constitute a profound treatment of law and of obligation to law. Allen's study of Socrates' thought on these vital issues is accompanied by his own translations of the Apology and the Crito.
"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.
Humorous, frank, and insightful, this book challenges the reader to step in and take hold of what is right and to cast away what is wrong. Topics covered included such varied subjects as private property, the individual, the Three Philosophies of Man, women, individualism, and more. A wonderful introduction to philosophy for the neophyte, and a joy for the experienced student of thought.
“Imagine two of the most influential thinkers of all time, and two of the most diametrically opposed, thrust together in a no holds barred debate about some of the most important questions: Does man move the world or is he only a puppet of forces beyond his control? Is there a human nature or only market forces? Is Communism the liberator of mankind or a deadly scourge? In Peter Kreeft’s Socrates Meets Marx, the father of philosophy cross examines the founder of communism using the Communist Manifesto, details from the life of Marx himself, and the witnesses of history as evidence to be considered for judgment. If only every edition of the Communist Manifesto would have been bound together with a copy of this book, the world would be a much saner place.” – Christopher Kaczor, author of Proportionalism and the Natural Law Tradition
Kreeft takes the reader through the world of existentialist philosophy, posing questions that challenge the concepts that Sartre proposed. Based on an imagination dialogue between Socrates and Sartre that takes place in the afterlife, this profound and witty book makes an entertaining and informative exploration of modern philosophy
“Peter Kreeft’s work is (1) unfailingly brilliant, (2) intellectually agile, (3) astonishingly perspicacious, (4) gloriously orthodox, (5) Chestertonian aphoristic.” – Thomas Howard, author of On Being Catholic
2001 CCCC Outstanding Book Award
The vast majority of academic books are written from the scholar’s position, even those that primarily concern teaching. Writing/Teaching, on the other hand, is a book about teaching written from the position of the teacher. As the title suggests, Kameen’s book is split into two halves—yet both, in different ways and through different discourses, are derived from his work in the classroom, and his own struggle with issues and problems all teachers of writing must face.
The first half is a series of essays originating from a graduate seminar Kameen team-taught with professor and poet Toi Derricotte in 1994. Included are essays Kameen wrote, a selection of pieces written by other members of the group, and a reflective “postscript.” These essays combine personal narrative, reflective meditation, and critical inquiry—all used as discourse to depict and examine the process of teaching.
The second half of the book contains essays on Plato’s dialogues—primarily Phaedrus and Protagoras—as a means to interrogate the position of teacher through the lens of the most famous of Western pedagogues—Socrates. Here, Socrates is used as a tool to examine and critique both Kameen’s own teacherly identity and, in a wider sense, the set of cultural forces that pre-figure the available positions for both “teacher” and “student” in contemporary education.
What unites both halves is the way Kameen approaches each—the “personal” and the “scholarly”—from his position as teacher. The texts presented provide the occasion for a complex and nuanced meditation on the classroom as a legitimate arena for the production of knowledge and research. Sure to be timely and controversial, Writing/Teaching will enter into the debate on whether to reconfigure the relationship between research and teaching currently taking place among teachers of composition, cultural studies, and rhetoric. Compelling reading for teachers or those contemplating a career in the profession.
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