A study of Hippolytus of Rome and his treatment of PresocraticPhilosophy, used as a case study to argue against the use of collections of fragments and in favour of the idea of reading "embedded texts" with attention to the interpretation and interests of the quoting author. A study of methodology in early Greek Philosophy. Includes novel interpretations of Heraclitus and Empedocles, and an argument for the unity of Empedocles's poem.
John Palmer develops and defends a modal interpretation of Parmenides, according to which he was the first philosopher to distinguish in a rigorous manner the fundamental modalities of necessary being, necessary non-being or impossibility, and non-necessary or contingent being. This book accordingly reconsiders his place in the historical development of Presocraticphilosophy in light of this new interpretation. Careful treatment of Parmenides' specification of the ways of inquiry that define his metaphysical and epistemological outlook paves the way for (...) detailed analyses of his arguments demonstrating the temporal and spatial attributes of what is and cannot not be. Since the existence of this necessary being does not preclude the existence of other entities that are but need not be, Parmenides' cosmology can straightforwardly be taken as his account of the origin and operation of the world's mutable entities. Later chapters reassess the major Presocratics' relation to Parmenides in light of the modal interpretation, focusing particularly on Zeno, Melissus, Anaxagoras, and Empedocles. In the end, Parmenides' distinction among the principal modes of being, and his arguments regarding what what must be must be like, simply in virtue of its mode of being, entitle him to be seen as the founder of metaphysics or ontology as a domain of inquiry distinct from natural philosophy and theology. An appendix presents a Greek text of the fragments of Parmenides' poem with English translation and textual notes. (shrink)
John Palmer, author of Plato’s Reception of Parmenides (Oxford, 1999), here essays a radically new interpretation of Parmenides and his relation to Presocratic predecessors and successors, challenging received Anglo-American views (Heidegger and his epigones are ignored) on numerous fronts. Palmer sees the prevailing narrative in the first two volumes of Guthrie’s History as modified by Owen, Barnes, and Kirk/Raven/Schofield, and means not to revise but to overturn it (although on his own account, especially of recent scholarship on the early (...) thinkers and their relations, it is not clear that this has not already substantially occurred). Moreover, he means us to abandon entirely the dominant belief that Parmenides .. (shrink)
This is a book about the invention of Western philosophy, and the first thinkers to explore ideas about the nature of reality, time, and the origin of the universe. It begins with the finding of the new papyrus fragment of Empedocles' poem, and uses the story of its discovery and interpretation to highlight the way our understanding of early philosophers is marked by their presentation in later sources. -/- Generations of philosophers, both ancient and modern, have traced their inspiration (...) back to the presocratics, even though we have very few of their writings left. In this book, Catherine Osborne invites her readers to dip their toes into the fragmentary remains of thinkers from Thales to Pythagoras, Heraclitus to Protagoras, to try to fill in the bits of a jigsaw that has been rejigged many times and in many different ways. (shrink)
Ralph Cudworth (1617-88) was one of the Cambridge Platonists. His major work, The True Intellectual System of the Universe, was completed in 1671, a year after Spinoza published (anonymously) the Tractatus Logico-philosophicus. It was published a few years later, in 1678. Cudworth offers a spirited attack against the materialism and mechanism of Thomas Hobbes. His work is couched as a search for truth among the ancient philosophers, and this paper examines his use of the Presocratics as a tool for discussing (...) the issues of his day. (shrink)
This essay focuses on and attempts to uncover the truly radical character of Nietzsche’s early “philological” work, specifically asking after the benefit he claims the study of classical culture should have for our present, late-modern historical moment. Taking up his study of the Pre-Platonic thinkers in 1873’s Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen , the first section analyzes Nietzsche’s statement that history’s principle task is the uncovering of Persönlichkeiten . I argue that it is not at all the subjective character (...) of a psychologized individual that Nietzsche has in mind, but rather the moment of persönliche Stimmung or ‘being attuned’ to the world, which grounds and gives rise to thinking. In the second section, I show that the phusis or ‘nature’ to which the thinker is exposed in this attunement is comparable to the tension between the Dionysian and Apollonian natural forces in tragic poetry, as Nietzsche understands it. This dynamic conception of phusis does not provide a metaphysical substrate or an objectively real ground to which we might return via that Greeks, but is rather essentially phenomenal , i.e. it is nothing other than the movement into and out of appearance, which always entails and requires its reception by the human being to whom it appears. In the final section of the essay, this origin proves for Nietzsche not to be located in a distant past moment. Rather, it is the abyssal origin of the tradition that is always already effective in our present moment, informing our contemporary conceptions of our world and ourselves. (shrink)
This book explores the dynamic relationship between myth and philosophy in the Presocratics, the Sophists, and in Plato - a relationship which is found to be more extensive and programmatic than has previously been recognised. The story of philosophy's relationship with myth is that of its relationship with literary and social convention. The intellectuals studied here wanted to reformulate popular ideas about cultural authority, and they achieved this goal by manipulating myth. Their self-conscious use of myth creates a (...) self-reflective philosophic sensibility and draws attention to problems inherent in different modes of linguistic representation. Much of the reception of Greek philosophy stigmatises myth as 'irrational'. Such an approach ignores the important role played by myth in Greek philosophy, not just as a foil but as a mode of philosophical thought. The case studies in this book reveal myth deployed as a result of methodological reflection, and as a manifestation of philosophical concerns. (shrink)
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 Presocraticphilosophy) and of the individual alienated from his own kin and from the gods, as found in tragedy.
This anthology looks at the early sages of Western philosophy and science who paved the way for Plato and Aristotle and their successors. Democritus's atomic theory of matter, Zeno's dazzling "proofs" that motion is impossible, Pythagorean insights into mathematics, Heraclitus's haunting and enigmatic epigrams-all form part of a revolution in human thought that relied on reasoning, forged the first scientific vocabulary, and laid the foundations of Western philosophy. Jonathan Barnes has painstakingly brought together the surviving Presocratic fragments (...) in their original contexts, utilizing the latest research and a major new papyrus of Empedocles. Translated and edited by Jonathan Barnes. (shrink)