The book is about three things. First, how Ancient thinkers perceived humans as like or unlike other animals; second about the justification for taking a humane attitude towards natural things; and third about how moral claims count as true, and how they can be discovered or acquired. Was Aristotle was right to see continuity in the psychological functions of animal and human souls? The question cannot be settled without taking a moral stance. As we can either focus on continuity or (...) on discontinuities, how should natural science draw the boundaries? Moral agents act and react in a world that they see under a certain description, and there is no value free science that can settle what is the correct description. This book asks us to think about where moral justification could come from, and suggests that the supposed ‘moral status’ of the object cannot provide the answer. For the moral status of the object is a product of our own imagination, and once we see that, we also see that there remains the question where we ought to have the will to see it. Furthermore, since the perception of moral truth involves the development of imagination and will, the means to attain it will be better served by engagement with poetry and literature than with enquiries that seek to exclude the engagement of the imagination, or any appeal to the beauty of nature or the love of one's fellow creatures. (shrink)
German classicist's monumental study of the origins of European thought in Greek literature and philosophy. Brilliant, widely influential. Includes "Homer's View of Man," "The Olympian Gods," "The Rise of the Individual in the Early Greek Lyric," "Pindar's Hymn to Zeus," "Myth and Reality in Greek Tragedy," and "Aristophanes and Aesthetic Criticism.".
Lucretius' didactic poem De rerum natura ('On the Nature of Things') is an impassioned and visionary presentation of the materialist philosophy of Epicurus, and one of the most powerful poetic texts of antiquity. After its rediscovery in 1417 it became a controversial and seminal work in successive phases of literary history, the history of science, and the Enlightenment. In this Cambridge Companion experts in the history of literature, philosophy and science discuss the poem in its ancient contexts and in (...) its reception both as a literary text and as a vehicle for progressive ideas. The Companion is designed both as an accessible handbook for the general reader who wishes to learn about Lucretius, and as a series of stimulating essays for students of classical antiquity and its reception. It is completely accessible to the reader who has only read Lucretius in translation. (shrink)
This is a major study of conceptions of selfhood and personality in Homer and Greek Tragedy and Philosophy. The focus is on the norms of personality in Greek psychology and ethics. Gill argues that the key to understanding Greek thought of this type is to counteract the subjective and individualistic aspects of our own thinking about the person. He defines an "objective-participant" conception of personality, symbolized by the idea of the person as an interlocutor in a series of psychological and (...) ethical dialogues. (shrink)
Unlike traditional Western philosophy, which places no special emphasis on the importance of family structure, traditional Chinese philosophy represented by Confucianism is a set of theories that give family a primary position. With family as the foundation, a complete framework of “human body → two genders → family and clan” is formed. Therefore, family in Chinese philosophy is existent, gender-interactive and diachronic. It should also be noted that family also plays a fundamental role in Chinese theories on cosmology, religion, and (...) many other subjects. In other words, Chinese culture as a whole is imprinted with reflections on family. Nowadays, as the value of family becomes less prominent, re-examining ancient Chinese philosophy will undoubtedly bear theoretical significance. Meanwhile, traditional Chinese philosophy can also offer an ideological framework for the re-construction of family values in the contemporary world. (shrink)
This article attempts to explore ancient Chinese philosophical thought by analyzing how pioneering Chinese thinkers made judgments and inferences, and compares it to ancient Greek philosophy. It first addresses the starting-point and the object of cognition in Chinese ancient philosophy, then analyses how early thinkers construed definition and proposition, and finally discusses how they made inferences on the basis of definition and proposition. It points out that categorization is an important methodology in ancient Chinese philosophy, and that rectification of names (...) and the doctrine of the mean are key criteria in making judgments. (shrink)
Examining both why and how Emerson evades the ancient quarrel between literature and philosophy, this book entirely rethinks the nature of Emerson's radical individualism and its relation to the possibility of an ethics and a politics. The author argues that the quarrel between literature and philosophy never took place in America, and that instead traditional philosophical work staged itself here as a form of literary praxis and cultural therapeutics, epitomized in the work of Emerson. A revisionary study of (...) some of Emerson's central essays, Less Legible Meanings also invites the reader to reconsider the nature of Emerson's influence on contemporary American culture and to discover new ways in which we might continue to understand his work. Interdisciplinary in scope, the book makes equal use of the history of philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, and cultural history. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction; Part I. Theoretical Views about Pity and Fear as Aesthetic Emotions: 1. Drama and the emotions: an Indo-European connection? 2. Gorgias: a strange trio, the poetic emotions; 3. Plato: from reality to tragedy and back; 4. Aristotle: the first 'theorist' of the aesthetic emotions; Part II. Pity and Fear within Tragedies: 5. An introduction; 6. Aeschylus: Persians; 7. Prometheus Bound; 8. Sophocles: Ajax; 9. Euripides: Orestes; Appendix: catharsis and the emotions in the definition of tragedy (...) in the Poetics. (shrink)
Ancient philosophers -- The history of philosophy -- Philosophy within quotation marks? -- Anglophone attitudes -- Brentano's Aristotle -- Heidegger in the cave -- 'There was an old person from Tyre' -- The Presocratics in context -- Argument in ancient philosophy -- Philosophy and dialectic -- Aristotle and the methods of ethics -- Metacommentary -- An introduction to Aspasius -- Parmenides and the Eleatic One -- Reason and necessity in Leucippus -- Plato's cyclical argument -- Death and the philosopher -- (...) Aristotelian arithmetic -- The principle of plenitude -- 'Aristotle's opinion concerning destiny and what is up to us' -- 'Belief is up to us' -- The same again : the Stoics and eternal recurrence -- Bits and pieces -- Partial wholes -- 'Drei Sonnen sah ich ...' : Syrianus and astronomy -- Immaterial causes. (shrink)
Emotions are the focus of intense debate both in contemporary philosophy and psychology, and increasingly also in the history of ideas. Simo Knuuttila presents a comprehensive survey of philosophical theories of emotion from Plato to Renaissance times, combining rigorous philosophical analysis with careful historical reconstruction. The first part of the book covers the conceptions of Plato and Aristotle and later ancient views from Stoicism to Neoplatonism and, in addition, their reception and transformation by early Christian thinkers from Clement and Origen (...) to Augustine and Cassian. Knuuttila then proceeds to a discussion of ancient themes in medieval thought, and of new medieval conceptions, codified in the so-called faculty psychology from Avicenna to Aquinas, in thirteenth century taxonomies, and in the voluntarist approach of Duns Scotus, William Ockham, and their followers. Philosophers, classicists, historians of philosophy, historians of psychology, and anyone interested in emotion will find much to stimulate them in this fascinating book. (shrink)
Method in Ancient Philosophy brings together fifteen new, specially written essays by leading scholars on a broad subject of central importance. The ancient Greeks recognized that different forms of human activity are guided by different methods of reasoning; examination of how they reasoned, and how they thought about their own reasoning, helps us to see how they came to hold the views they did, and how our own methods of enquiry have developed under their influence. Contributors include Terence Irwin, Patricia (...) Curd, Ian Mueller, Robert Bolton, A.A. Long, Gail Fine, Constance C. Meinwald, Lesley Brown, Gisela Striker, C.D.C. Reeve, Charlotte Witt, Richard Kraut, Sarah Broadie, James Allen, and G.E.R. Lloyd. (shrink)
In this 2009 book Sylvia Berryman challenges that assumption, arguing that the idea that the world works 'like a machine' can be found in ancient Greek thought, predating the early modern philosophy with which it is most closely associated.
This pathbreaking work pursues two interwoven themes. Firstly, it engages in a deconstruction of Ancient philosopher's texts--mainly from Plato, but also from Homer and Parmenides--in order to free four Greek female figures from the patriarchal discourse which for centuries had imprisoned them in a particular role. Secondly, it attempts to construct a symbolic female order, reinterpreting these figures from a new perspective. Building on the theory of sexual difference, Cavarero shows that death is the central category on which the whole (...) edifice of traditional philosophy is based. By contrast, the category of birth provides the thread with which new concepts of feminist criticism can be woven together to establish a fresh way of thinking. Cavarero develops a philosophical narrative which, by re-interpreting each of the four figures of ancient thought, uncovers several images of the female desire for self-representation. Plato himself had not forseen that one day female subjectivity would assert its autonomy, plundering and throwing into confusion the patriarchal text in order to tell another story. (shrink)
This book is designed to appeal both to those interested in Roman poetry and to specialists in ancient philosophy. In it David Sedley explores Lucretius' complex relationship with Greek culture, in particular with Empedocles, whose poetry was the model for his own, with Epicurus, the source of his philosophical inspiration, and with the Greek language itself. He includes a detailed reconstruction of Epicurus' great treatise On Nature, and seeks to show how Lucretius worked with this as his sole philosophical source, (...) but gradually emancipated himself from its structure, transforming its raw contents into something radically new. By pursuing these themes, the book uncovers many unrecognised aspects of Lucretius' methods and achievements as a poetic craftsman. (shrink)
This original and lively book uses texts from ancient medicine, epic, lyric, tragedy, historiography, philosophy, and religion to explore the influence of Greek ideas on health and disease on Greek thought. Fundamental issues are deeply implicated: causation and responsibility, purification and pollution, the mind-body relationship and gender differences, authority and the expert, reality and appearances, good government, and good and evil themselves.
How were the Greeks of the sixth century BC able to invent philosophy and tragedy? Richard Seaford argues that a large part of the answer can be found in another momentous development, the invention and rapid spread of coinage. By transforming social relations, monetization contributed to the concepts of the universe as an impersonal system (fundamental to Presocratic philosophy) and of the individual alienated from his own kin and from the gods, as found in tragedy.
This book studies Wallace Stevens and pre-Socratic poetic philosophy, showing how concepts that animate Stevens’ poetry parallel concepts found in the works of Parmenides, Heraclitus, Empedocles, and Xenophanes.
Except for a patina of twenty-first century modernity, in the form of logic and language, philosophy is exactly the same now as it ever was; it has made no progress whatsoever. We philosophers wrestle with the exact same problems the Pre-Socratics wrestled with. Even more outrageous than this claim, though, is the blatant denial of its obvious truth by many practicing philosophers. The No-Progress view is explored and argued for here. Its denial is diagnosed as a form of anosognosia, a (...) mental condition where the affected person denies there is any problem. The theories of two eminent philosophers supporting the No-Progress view are also examined. The final section offers an explanation for philosophy's inability to solve any philosophical problem, ever. The paper closes with some reflections on philosophy's future. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction; 2. Pleasure in early Greek ethics; 3. Pleasure in the early physical tradition; 4. Plato on pleasure and restoration; 5. Plato on true, untrue and false pleasures; 6. Aristotle on pleasure and activation; 7. Epicurus and the Cyrenaics on katastematic and kinetic pleasures; 8. The Old Stoics on pleasure as passion; 9. Contemporary conceptions of pleasure; 10. Ancient and contemporary conceptions of pleasure; Suggestions for further reading.
Lucretius' account of the origin of life, the origin of species, and human prehistory (first century BC) is the longest and most detailed account extant from the ancient world. It is a mechanistic theory that does away with the need for any divine design, and has been seen as a forerunner of Darwin's theory of evolution. This commentary seeks to locate Lucretius in both the ancient and modern contexts. The recent revival of creationism makes this study particularly relevant to contemporary (...) debate, and indeed, many of the central questions posed by creationists are those Lucretius attempts to answer. (shrink)
The employment of mythological language and imagery by an Epicurean poet - an adherent of a system not only materialist, but overtly hostile to myth and poetry - is highly paradoxical. This apparent contradiction has often been ascribed to a conflict in the poet between reason and intellect, or to a desire to enliven his philosophical material with mythological digressions. This book attempts to provide a more positive assessment of Lucretius' aims and methodology by considering the poet's attitude to myth, (...) and the role which it plays in the De Rerum Natura, against the background of earlier and contemporary views. The author suggests that Lucretius was not only aware of the tension between his two roles as philosopher and poet, but attempted to resolve it by developing his own, Epicurean poetic, together with a bold and innovative theory of the origins and meaning of myth. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Poetry: the roots of a problem; 2. A radical solution: Plato's Republic; 3. The natural history of poetry: Aristotle; 4. Ways to find truth in falsehood; 5. The marriage of Homer and Plato.
This article offers a study of the early formation and development of the ideal of harmony in ancient Chinese philosophy and ancient Greek philosophy. It shows that, unlike the Pythagorean notion of harmony, which is primarily based on a linear progressive model with a pre-set order, the ancient Chinese concept of harmony is best understood as a comprehensive process of harmonization. It encompasses spatial as well as temporal dimensions, metaphysical as well as moral and aesthetical dimensions. It is a fundamentally (...) open notion in the sense that it does not aim to conform to any pre-set order. This broader, richer, and more liberal understanding of harmony has had a profound influence on Chinese culture as whole in its long history. (shrink)
Method and Metaphysics presents twenty-six essays in ancient philosophy by Jonathan Barnes, one of the most admired and influential scholars of his generation. The essays span four decades of his career, and are drawn from a wide variety of sources: many of them will be relatively unknown even to specialists in ancient philosophy. Several essays are now translated from the original French and made available in English for the first time; others have been substantially revised for republication here. The volume (...) opens with eight essays about the interpretation of ancient philosophical texts, and about the relationship between philosophy and its history. The next five essays examine the methods of ancient philosophers. The third section comprises thirteen essays about metaphysical topics, from the Presocratics to the late Platonists. This collection will be a rich feast for students and scholars of ancient philosophy. (shrink)
This article is an introduction to an ancient Egyptian text called The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant and an argument that it ought to be seen as a classic of political philosophy. After contextualizing the tale as part of a tradition of moral and political philosophy in ancient Egypt, I explore the methods by which the text defines the proper roles of political authority and contrast its approach to justifying political authority with the argument from the state of nature so (...) common in modern Western political philosophy. I claim that the tale's argument from dysfunction anticipates the move in contemporary Western political philosophy towards privileging non-ideal over ideal theory. I discuss challenges in translating the key term in the tale ? ma'at ? in light of the fact that it can be taken to mean ?justice? and/or ?truth?. Finally, I discuss how the irony at the heart of its narrative can lead us to interpret the tale as having either conservative or revolutionary implications for the political system it depicts. (shrink)
Plato's Republic: the argument with Polemarchus.--Plato's Republic: the argument with Thrasymachus.--Plato's Republic: the nature of the soul.--Plato's Republic: the comparison between the soul and the state.--Plato's Republic: the proof that the most just man is the happiest.--Aristotle's definition of moral virtue and Plato's account of justice in the soul.--Purposive action.--A comparison of Kant's idealism with that of Berkeley.--The syntheses of sense and understanding in Kant's Kritik of pure reason.--The schematism of the categories in Kant's Kritik of pure reason.--The concept of (...) evolution. (shrink)