Plato's dialogues are usually understood as simple examples of philosophy in action. In this book Professor Rowe treats them rather as literary-philosophical artefacts, shaped by Plato's desire to persuade his readers to exchange their view of life and the universe for a different view which, from their present perspective, they will barely begin to comprehend. What emerges is a radically new Plato: a Socratic throughout, who even in the late dialogues is still essentially the Plato (and the Socrates) of the (...) Apology and the so-called 'Socratic' dialogues. This book aims to understand Plato both as a philosopher and as a writer, on the assumption that neither of these aspects of the dialogues can be understood without the other. The argument of the book is closely based in Plato's text, but should be accessible to any serious reader of Plato, whether professional philosopher, classicist, or student. (shrink)
The Lysis is one of Plato's most engaging but also puzzling dialogues; it has often been regarded, in the modern period, as a philosophical failure. The full philosophical and literary exploration of the dialogue illustrates how it in fact provides a systematic and coherent, if incomplete, account of a special theory about, and special explanation of, human desire and action. Furthermore, it shows how that theory and explanation are fundamental to a whole range of other Platonic dialogues and indeed to (...) the understanding of the corpus as a whole. Part One offers an analysis of, or running commentary on, the dialogue. In Part Two Professors Penner and Rowe examine the philosophical and methodological implications of the argument uncovered by the analysis. The whole is rounded off by an epilogue of the relation between the Lysis and some other Platonic texts. (shrink)
The Gorgias is a vivid introduction to the central problems of moral and political philosophy. In the notes to his translation, Professor Irwin discusses the historical and social context of the dialogue, expounds and criticises the arguments, and tries above all to suggest the questions a modern reader ought to raise about Plato's doctrines. No knowledge of Greek is necessary.
Section 1 of this essay distinguishes between four interpretations of Socratic intellectualism, which are, very roughly: a version in which on any given occasion desire, and then action, is determined by what we think will turn out best for us, that being what we all, always, really desire; a version in which on any given occasion action is determined by what we think will best satisfy our permanent desire for what is really best for us; a version formed by the (...) assimilation of to, labelled the ‘standard’ version’ by Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, and treated by them as a single alternative to their own interpretation; and Brickhouse and Smith’s own version. Section 2 considers, in particular, Brickhouse and Smith’s handling of the ‘appetites and passions’, which is the most distinctive feature of interpretation. Section 3 discusses Brickhouse and Smith’s defence of ‘Socratic studies’ in its historical context, and assesses the contribution made by their distinctive interpretation of ‘the philosophy of Socrates’. One question raised in this section, and one that is clearly fundamental to the existence of ‘Socratic studies’, is how different Brickhouse and Smith’s Socrates turns out to be from Plato himself, i.e., the Plato of the post-‘Socratic’ dialogues; to which the answer offered is that on Brickhouse and Smith’s interpretation Socratic moral psychology becomes rather less distinguishable from its ‘Platonic’ counterpart—as that is currently understood—than it is on the interpretation they oppose. (shrink)
In a new English translation by Christopher Rowe, this great classic of moral philosophy is accompanied here by an extended introduction and detailed lin-by-line commentary by Sarah Broadie. Assuming no knowledge of Greek, her scholarly and instructive approach will prove invaluable for students reading the text for the first time. This thorough treatment of Aristotle's text will be an indispensable resource for students, teachers, and scholars alike.
line-by-line notes are invariably informative and helpful, as well thought-provoking.' John M. Cooper, Stuart Professor of Philosophy, Princeton UniversityIn a new English translation by Christopher Rowe, this great classic of moral philosophy is accompanied here by an extended introduction and detailed lin-by-line commentary by Sarah Broadie. Assuming no knowledge of Greek, her scholarly and instructive approach will prove invaluable for students reading the text for the first time. This thorough treatment of Aristotle's text will be an indispensable resource for students, (...) teachers, and scholars alike. (shrink)
Plato's Theaetetus and Sophist are two of his most important dialogues, and are widely read and discussed by philosophers for what they reveal about his epistemology and particularly his accounts of belief and knowledge. Although they form part of a single Platonic project, these dialogues are not usually presented as a pair, as they are in Christopher Rowe's new and lively translation. Offering a high standard of accuracy and readability, the translation reveals the continuity between these dialogues and others in (...) the Platonic corpus, especially the Republic. The supporting introduction and notes help the reader to follow the arguments as they develop, explaining their structure, context and interpretation. This new edition challenges current scholarly approaches to Plato's work and will pave the way for fresh interpretations both of Theaetetus and Sophist and of Plato's writings in general. (shrink)
This book, first published in 2000, is a general and comprehensive treatment of the political thought of ancient Greece and Rome. It begins with Homer and ends in late antiquity with Christian and pagan reflections on divine and human order. In between come studies of Plato, Aristotle and a host of other major and minor thinkers - poets, historians, philosophers - whose individuality is brought out by extensive quotation. The international team of distinguished scholars assembled by the editors includes historians (...) of law, politics, culture and religion, and also philosophers. Some chapters focus mostly on the ancient context of the ideas they are examining, while others explore these ideas as systems of thought which resonate with modern or perennial concerns. This clearly written volume will long remain an accessible and authoritative guide to Greek and Roman thinking about government and community. (shrink)
The paper has two main aims, one larger and one slightly narrower. The larger aim is to undermine further a tendency that has dogged the interpretation of Platonic political philosophy in modern times, despite some dissenting voices: the tendency to begin from the assumption that Plato¿s thinking changed and developed over time, as if we already had privileged access to his biography. The slightly narrower aim is to reply to two charges of intellectual parricide made against Plato. The first is (...) explicit and well known: that he recommended political structures of a sort that would exclude the free-ranging philosophical inquiry sponsored by Socrates. The second is implicit in the standard reading of the Politicus, and says that Plato actually came to approve (however reluctantly) of Athens¿ execution of his teacher. I argue that the relevant passage (Plt. 297C - 302B) has been misunderstood, and that it is in fact fully consistent with the blanket criticism we find in the Republic of all existing forms of constitution. The Athenian democracy still got it wrong, both in general, and in making the particular decision to kill off old Socrates. I also argue that so far from proposing to abolish Socratic inquiry, Plato¿s political works as a whole (Republic, Politicus and Laws included) are actually designed to show the need for it. (shrink)
The well-justified claim on the cover of this beautifully produced volume is that it is a “uniquely authoritative history of [Western] philosophy for the general reader.... Personalities and ideas are brought to life.... The contributors... bring to their chapters not only deep understanding, but also enthusiasm and zest for their subject.” The combination of pace, intelligence, and intelligibility that pervades most of the book is exemplary. It is a thoroughly engaging read, not least because of the contributors’ readiness to say (...) frankly when the characters in the story commit themselves to what is unclear, absurd, or downright false. If there is an underlying theme, it is that we must rid ourselves of the notion that there is any clear linear progress in philosophy: “classics in philosophy are not antiquated by succeeding research in the way that the works of even the greatest scientists become dated in time”. If there is progress at all, it comes in the shape of the recognition of earlier philosophers’ mistakes and the salvaging of “partial insights.” But “ ‘we must assume that even the best efforts of our own time will come to seem blind eventually’ ”. The latter page, the last of the text and of the afterword, is by happily symbolic error headed “Ancient Philosophy”; to adapt the title of one of the early illustrations of the book, readers by this point may appropriately wonder where they are coming from, and where they are going..). (shrink)
What I propose to do in this short paper is to outline two different approaches to needs in Greek philosophy. The first is the reasonably familiar approach used by Aristotle, and, in some moods, by Plato; the second is a rather less well-known approach which can with some justice be associated with Socrates, and/or Plato when he is not in an Aristotelian mood —and also the Stoics, who seem to have picked up some distinctly Socratic ways of thinking. The Aristotelian (...) line, if not necessarily familiar as Aristotle’s, will be familiar just insofar as it gives some degree of that recognition to needs that most moderns would suppose the idea should be given. What I am calling the Socratic line, by contrast, appears to leave no room for the idea of needs at all. It is this second, ‘Socratic’, approach that primarily interests me, not least because it is non-standard. (shrink)
The "old chestnuts" of this engaging volume are, to quote its cover, "well-known passages in the works of ancient philosophers about which one might have thought everything there is to say has already been said"; its "sacred cows" are "views about what ancient philosophers thought, on issues of philosophical importance, that have attained the status of near-unquestioned orthodoxy." The degree of success in the targeting of such bovine targets among the thirteen papers is variable: thus Shaul Tor makes short work (...) of the ancient view, newly revived by Daniel Graham, that pre-Platonic natural philosophers operated with purely mechanical systems ; Amber Carpenter takes aim, via... (shrink)