Over the centuries, the idea of the self has both fascinated and confounded philosophers. From the ancient Greeks, who problematized issues of identity and self-awareness, to Locke and Hume, who popularized minimalist views of the self, to the efforts of postmodernists in our time to decenter the human subject altogether, the idea that there is something called a self has always been in steady decline. But for Richard Sorabji, one of our most celebrated living intellectuals, this negation of the self (...) is dispiriting. In Self , he sets out to recover the rich variety of positive accounts of the self from Antiquity right up to the present, while offering his own inspiring view of what precisely the self might be. Drawing on Eastern religion, classical antiquity, and Western philosophy, Sorabji proceeds to tackle a number of thematic debates that have preoccupied philosophers over the ages, including the concept of the self, its sameness and mutability, the idea of the resurrection of the body and spirit, and the fear of death. According to Sorabji, the self is not an undetectable soul or ego, but an embodied individual whose existence is plain to see. It is also neither a linguistic creation nor a psychological fiction, but something that owns both a consciousness and a body. Ultimately, Sorabji argues, the demise of a positive idea of the self stems from much older and more pervasive problems of identity than we realize. Through an astute reading of this tradition, he helps us come to terms with our uneasiness about the subject in an account that will be at the forefront of philosophical debates for years to come. (shrink)
Richard Sorabji presents a ground-breaking study of ancient Greek views of the emotions and their influence on subsequent theories and attitudes, Pagan and Christian. While the central focus of the book is the Stoics, Sorabji draws on a vast range of texts to give a rich historical survey of how Western thinking about this central aspect of human nature developed.
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. (shrink)
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. (shrink)