Richard Sorabji, a noted philosopher in his own right, here offers a new edition of his 1972 translation of De Memoria here with commentary, summaries, and three essays comparing Aristotle’s accounts of memory and recollection. For this edition, Sorabji has also provided a substantial new introduction taking into account scholarly debates over the intervening thirty years, particularly those over the role of mental images in the imagination.
“Sorabji has produced a first-class book on an important topic. All Aristotelians, and anyone with an interest in any aspect of memory, will be in his debt.”—Jonathan Barnes, Isis
“Anyone concerned with Aristotle’s psychology, theory of mind, or rhetoric, anyone interested in mnemonic systems, and anyone trying to work out for himself a theory of memory, should read Aristotle’s treatise On Memory, with the comments by Richard Sorabji.”—International Studies in Philosophy
“Sorabji’s book is a sample of care, intelligence, and subtlety that the Anglo-Saxon philosophers do not hesitate to invest in such enterprises. . . . The notes seem to leave no detail, no textual difficulty unilluminated.”—Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale
“Was Gandhi a philosopher? Yes.” So begins this remarkable investigation of the guiding principles that motivated the transformative public acts of one of the top historical figures of the twentieth century. Richard Sorabji, continuing his exploration of the many connections between South Asian thought and ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, brings together in this volume the unlikely pairing of Mahatma Gandhi and the Stoics, uncovering a host of parallels that suggests a deep affinity spanning the two millennia between them.
While scholars have long known Gandhi’s direct Western influences to be Platonic and Christian, Sorabji shows how a look at Gandhi’s convergence with the Stoics works mutually, throwing light on both of them. Both emphasized emotional detachment, which provided a necessary freedom, a suspicion of universal rules of conduct that led to a focus not on human rights but human duties—the personally determined paths each individual must make for his or her self. By being indifferent, paradoxically, both the Stoics and Gandhi could love manifoldly. In drawing these links to the fore, Sorabji demonstrates the comparative consistency of Gandhi’s philosophical ideas, isolating the specific ideological strengths that were required to support some of the most consequential political acts and experiments in how to live.
In Moral Conscience through the Ages, Richard Sorabji brings his erudition and philosophical acumen to bear on a fundamental question: what is conscience? Examining the ways we have conceived of that little voice in our heads—our self-directed judge—he teases out its most enduring elements, the aspects that have survived from the Greek playwrights in the fifth century BCE through St Paul, the Church Fathers, Catholics and Protestants, all the way to the 17th century’s political unrest and the critics and champions of the eighteenth to twentieth centuries.
Sorabji examines an impressive breadth of topics: the longing for different kinds of freedom of conscience, the proper limits of freedom itself, protests at conscience’s being ‘terrorized,’ dilemmas of conscience, the value of conscience to human beings, its secularization, its reliability, and ways to improve it. These historical issues are alive today, with fresh concerns about topics such as conscientious objection, the force of conscience, or the balance between freedoms of conscience, religion, and speech. The result is a stunningly comprehensive look at a central component of our moral understanding.
A discussion of Aristotle’s thought on determinism and culpability, Necessity, Cause, and Blame also reveals Richard Sorabji’s own philosophical commitments. He makes the original argument here that Aristotle separates the notions of necessity and cause, rejecting both the idea that all events are necessarily determined as well as the idea that a non-necessitated event must also be non-caused. In support of this argument, Sorabji engages in a wide-ranging discussion of explanation, time, free will, essence, and purpose in nature. He also provides historical perspective, arguing that these problems remain intimately bound up with modern controversies.
“Necessity, Cause and Blame would be counted by all as one of Sorabji’s finest. The book is essential for philosophers—both specialists on the Greeks and modern thinkers about free will—and also compelling for non-specialists.”—Martha Nussbaum
“Original and important . . . The book relates Aristotle’s discussions to both the contemporary debates on determinism and causation and the ancient ones. It is especially detailed on Stoic arguments about necessity . . . and on the social and legal background to Aristotle’s thought.”—Choice
“It is difficult to convey the extraordinary richness of this book. . . . A Greekless philosopher could read it with pleasure . . . At the same time, its learning and scholarship are enormous.”—G. E. M. Anscombe, Times Literary Supplement
Drawing on classical antiquity and Western and Eastern philosophy, Richard Sorabji tackles in Self the question of whether there is such a thing as the individual self or only a stream of consciousness. According to Sorabji, the self is not an undetectable soul or ego, but an embodied individual whose existence is plain to see. Unlike a mere stream of consciousness, it is something that owns not only a consciousness but also a body.
Sorabji traces historically the retreat from a positive idea of self and draws out the implications of these ideas of self on the concepts of life and death, asking: Should we fear death? How should our individuality affect the way we live? Through an astute reading of a huge array of traditions, he helps us come to terms with our uneasiness about the subject of self in an account that will be at the forefront of philosophical debates for years to come.
“There has never been a book remotely like this one in its profusion of ancient references on ideas about human identity and selfhood . . . . Readers unfamiliar with the subject also need to know that Sorabji breaks new ground in giving special attention to philosophers such as Epictetus and other Stoics, Plotinus and later Neoplatonists, and the ancient commentators on Aristotle (on the last of whom he is the world's leading authority).”—Anthony A. Long, Times Literary Supplement
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