An original and provocative book that illuminates the origins of philosophy in ancient Greece by revealing the surprising early meanings of the word "philosopher" Calling Philosophers Names provides a groundbreaking account of the origins of the term philosophos or "philosopher" in ancient Greece. Tracing the evolution of the word's meaning over its first two centuries, Christopher Moore shows how it first referred to aspiring political sages and advice-givers, then to avid conversationalists about virtue, and finally to investigators who focused on (...) the scope and conditions of those conversations. Questioning the familiar view that philosophers from the beginning "loved wisdom" or merely "cultivated their intellect," Moore shows that they were instead mocked as laughably unrealistic for thinking that their incessant talking and study would earn them social status or political and moral authority. Taking a new approach to the history of early Greek philosophy, Calling Philosophers Names seeks to understand who were called philosophoi or "philosophers" and why, and how the use of and reflections on the word contributed to the rise of a discipline. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, the book demonstrates that a word that began in part as a wry reference to a far-flung political bloc came, hardly a century later, to mean a life of determined self-improvement based on research, reflection, and deliberation. Early philosophy dedicated itself to justifying its own dubious-seeming enterprise. And this original impulse to seek legitimacy holds novel implications for understanding the history of the discipline and its influence. (shrink)
In this book, the first systematic study of Socrates' reflections on self-knowledge, Christopher Moore examines the ancient precept 'Know yourself' and, drawing on Plato, Aristophanes, Xenophon, and others, reconstructs and reassesses the arguments about self-examination, personal ideals, and moral maturity at the heart of the Socratic project. What has been thought to be a purely epistemological or metaphysical inquiry turns out to be deeply ethical, intellectual, and social. Knowing yourself is more than attending to your beliefs, discerning the structure of (...) your soul, or recognizing your ignorance - it is constituting yourself as a self who can be guided by knowledge toward the good life. This is neither a wholly introspective nor a completely isolated pursuit: we know and constitute ourselves best through dialogue with friends and critics. This rich and original study will be of interest to researchers in the philosophy of Socrates, selfhood, and ancient thought. (shrink)
We argue that friendship is constituted in the practice of narration, not merely identifi ed through psychological or sociological criteria. We show that whether two people have, as Aristotle argues, ‘lived together’ in ‘mutually acknowledged goodwill’ can be determined only through a narrative reconstruction of a shared past. We demonstrate this with a close reading of Thomas Bernhard’s Wittgenstein’s Nephew: A Friendship (1982). We argue that this book provides not only an illustration but also an enactment of the practice of (...) friendship as the urge to redeem—and thus to instantiate—Aristotelian suzên (‘living together’) by means of its telling. (shrink)
The Phaedrus depicts the Platonic Socrates’ most explicit exhortation to ‘philosophy’. The dialogue thereby reveals something of his idea of its nature. Unfortunately, what it reveals has been obscured by two habits in the scholarship: to ignore the remarks Socrates makes about ‘philosophy’ that do not arise in the ‘Palinode’; and to treat many of those remarks as parodies of Isocrates’ competing definition of the term. I remove these obscurities by addressing all fourteen remarks about ‘philosophy’ and by showing that (...) for none do we have reason to attribute to them Isocratean meaning. We thereby learn that ‘philosophy’ does not refer essentially to contemplation of the forms but to conversation concerned with selfimprovement and the pursuit of truth. (shrink)
_Socrates and the Socratic Dialogue_ provides the most complete study of the immediate literary reaction to Socrates, by his contemporaries and the first-generation Socratics, and of the writings from Aristotle to Proclus addressing Socrates and the literary work he inspired.
Among our earliest extant references to the word ‘philosophize’ is an unfamiliar one, from the mythographer Herodorus of Pontic Heraclea, whose son Bryson associated with Plato and Aristotle. A Byzantine compiler quotes Herodorus, probably from his book on Heracles, as saying that his hero ‘philosophized until death’. This is a surprising claim in light of the fifth/fourth-centuryb.c.view of Heracles as long-toiling but not intellectual. Euripides'Licymniuscharacterizes him as ‘unimpressive and unadorned, good to the greatest degree, confined from allsophiain action, unversed in (...) talking’. Heracles is thus explicitly distinguished from those who strive for dialectical understanding or theoretical knowledge. (shrink)
Socrates does not use the Laws' Speech in the Crito principally to persuade Crito to accept his coming execution. It is used instead to persuade Crito to examine and work on his inadequate view of justice. Crito's view of justice fails to coordinate one's duties to friends and those to the law. The Laws' Speech accomplishes this persuasive goal by accompanying Crito?s earlier speech. Both start from the same view of justice, one that Crito accepts, but reach opposing conclusions. Crito (...) cannot judge between the two appealing speeches. His understanding of justice is too confused for him to decide well how to help Socrates. His need to explain what happened the morning he visited Socrates will prompt him and others to examine this indeterminate view of justice. Socrates foregoes direct refutation because Crito will not abide that usual way of interrogation. Engaging in short question-and-answer conversation is not the only way to bring a person to aporia and the intention to examine oneself. Socrates does not here undermine his assertions in the Apology about his ignorance, lack of interest in teaching, constant philosophizing, and his belief that what he does is question, examine, and test those he talks to. (shrink)
This article argues that Aristophanes'Cloudstreats Socrates as distinctly interested in promoting self-knowledge of the sort related to self-improvement. Section I shows that Aristophanes links the precept γνῶθι σαυτόν with Socrates. Section II outlines the meaning of that precept for Socrates. Section III describes Socrates' conversational method in theCloudsas aimed at therapeutic self-revelation. Section IV identifies the patron Cloud deities of Socrates' school as also concerned to bring people to a therapeutic self-understanding, albeit in a different register from that of Socrates. (...) Section V discusses a sequence of jokes connected to ‘stripping’ that give a concrete image to the search for self-knowledge. Both the action of the Clouds and the tales of cloak-stripping provide models for understanding self-knowledge in a Socratic key. Section VI argues that Socrates' other interest in thephrontistērion, myth-rationalization, is consistent with the promotion of self-knowledge. Section VII supports the claim that Plato'sPhaedrusalludes constantly to theClouds, and because thePhaedruspays careful attention to self-knowledge, Plato must think that theCloudsdoes too. It notes in particular that we can explain the Platonic Socrates' famous self-knowledge-related curiosity about his similarity to Typhon as Plato's allusion to Aristophanes, an allusion made apt by Aristophanes' coordination of Socrates with self-knowledge. Section VIII concludes the paper. (shrink)
Socrates’ second speech in the Phaedrus includes the argument (245c6–246a2) that starts “all/every soul is immortal” (“ψυχὴ πᾶσα ἀθάνατος”).1 This argument has attracted attention for its austerity and placement in Socrates’ grand speech about chariots and love. Yet it has never been identified as a deliberately fallacious argument.2 This article argues that it is. Socrates intends to confront his interlocutor Phaedrus with a dubious sequence of reasoning. He does so to show his speech-loving friend how—rather than simply to tell him (...) that—analytic as much as imagistic speech can persuade without deserving conviction.It has been shown in recent years that on four other occasions Socrates deliberately utters bad .. (shrink)
Brill's Companion to the Reception of Socrates, edited by Christopher Moore, provides three-dozen studies of nearly 2500 continuous years of philosophical and literary engagement with Socrates as innovative intellectual, moral exemplar, and singular Athenian.
This paper investigates Aristotle’s canonical analysis of σωφροσύνη in Nicomachean Ethics 3.10–12 against the background of earlier and subsequent uses, and analyses of the virtue term. It argues that Aristotle’s is an outlier, brilliant but factitious, created to fit a theoretical scheme rather than reflect Greek understanding. Aristotle obscures the creativity of his account, presenting it as an ordinary language conceptual clarification that it is not. Many contemporary readers accept Aristotle’s narrow theory—that σωφροσύνη is moderation with respect to those pleasures (...) of touch related to nutrition and reproduction—as true, which may indicate that they are insufficiently familiar with fifth- and fourth-century literary, intellectual, and philosophical uses of the term. An important problem with this acceptance is that it prevents readers from recognizing the equal plausibility of non-Aristotelian accounts of σωφροσύνη, for example those found in Plato’s Charmides and other dialogues. (shrink)
The Greeks knew a virtue term that represented the ability to determine which norms deserved commitment, a virtue term usually misunderstood as “prediction of likely outcomes” or “being hesitant”: promêtheia. Plato’s uses of this term, almost completely ignored by scholarship, show a sensitivity to the prerequisites for the capacity for rational agency. We must add this virtue term to the usual suspects related to acting as a rational agent: sôphrosunê, dikaiosunê, phrônesis, and sophia. Promêtheia stands out for its importance in (...) times of ignorance of the future. (shrink)
This paper argues that Socrates’s baffling digression on Spartan philosophy, just before he interprets Simonides’s ode, gives a key to the whole of Plato’s Protagoras. It undermines simple distinctions between competition and cooperation in philosophy, and thus in the discussions throughout the dialogue. It also prepares for Socrates’s interpretation of Simonides’s ode as a questionable critique of Pittacus’s sage wisdom “Hard it is to be good.” This critique stands as a figure for the dialogue’s contrast between Protagoras’s and Socrates’s pedagogical (...) methods. Protagoras advances an emulative view of education against Socrates’s self-knowledge model. The paper concludes with some thoughts on Protagoras’s claim that talking about poetry is as much about virtue as the earlier back-and-forth exchange about virtue’s unity and teachability. (shrink)
Like his fellow first-generation Peripatetic Theophrastus, Aristoxenus wrote an extraordinary number of works. Many concerned music; one on Socrates contained evidence independent of Plato and Xenophon. At least five concerned Pythagoreanism: The Life of Pythagoras, On Pythagoras and His Associates, On the Pythagorean Way of Life, Life of Archytas, and the Pythagorean Precepts. This last one, as Carl Huffman...