In this philosophy classic, which was first published in 1951, E. R. Dodds takes on the traditional view of Greek culture as a triumph of rationalism. Using the analytical tools of modern anthropology and psychology, Dodds asks, "Why should we attribute to the ancient Greeks an immunity from 'primitive' modes of thought which we do not find in any society open to our direct observation?" Praised by reviewers as "an event in modern Greek scholarship" and "a book which it would (...) be difficult to over-praise," _The Greeks and the Irrational _was Volume 25 of the Sather Classical Lectures series. (shrink)
The last phase of Greek philosophy has until recently been less intelligently studied than any other, and in our understanding of its development there are still lamentable lacunae. Three errors in particular have in the past prevented a proper appreciation of Plotinus' place in the history of philosophy. The first was the failure to distinguish Neoplatonism from Platonism: this vitiates the work of many early exponents from Ficinus down to Kirchner. The second was the belief that the Neoplatonists, being ‘mystics,’ (...) were necessarily incomprehensible to the plain man or even to the plain philosopher. To have encouraged the persistence of this superstition in the nineteenth century is the least pardonable of Creuzer's many sins. The third was the chronological confusion involved in the ascription to Saint Paul's contemporary of the works of the pretended Dionysius Areopagita, which contain a fully-developed Neoplatonic theology. Though the fraud had been exposed by Scaliger, these writings continued down to the beginning of the nineteenth century to be used as evidence that the ‘Nsoplatonic trinity’ was an inferior imitation of the Christian one. When this false trail was at length abandoned the fashion for orientalizing explanations persisted in another guise: to the earliest historians of Neoplatonism, Simon and Vacherot, the school of Plotinus was ‘the school of Alexandria,’ and its inspiration was mainly Egyptian. Vacherot says of Neoplatonism that it is ‘essentially and radically oriental, having nothing of Greek thought but its language and procedure.’ Few would be found to-day to subscribe to so sweeping a pronouncement; but the existence of an important oriental element in Plotinus' thought is still affirmed by many French and German writers. (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.
This provocative collection of essays written by the influential Greek scholar E. R. Dodds between 1929 and 1971. represents the wide range of his literary and philosophical interests. Insightful and learned, the essays combine profound scholarship with the lucid humanity of a teacher aware of the special value of Greek studies in the modern world.
The purpose of this paper is to enquire into Plato's attitude towards a group of related problems which at the present time have assumed an unusual importance. By ‘the irrational’ I mean that surd element in human experience, both in our experience of ourselves and in our experience of the world about us, which has exercised so powerful—and as some of us think, so perilous—a fascination on the philosophers, artists, and men of letters of our own day.That contemporary problems and (...) interests should determine the questions which we address to the great thinkers of the past is entirely natural and proper. But he who uses this approach needs to be alive to its dangers. Such contemporary interests have very frequently determined not only the questions which scholars have asked, but also the answers which they have put into the mouths of the defenceless dead. Too often we unconsciously identify a past thinker with ourselyes, and distort his thoughts to make him the mouthpiece of our own preconceptions; or else, unconsciously identifying him with our opponents, we belabour him with gusto, serene in the assured knowledge that he cannot hit back. (shrink)
This line has been thought corrupt by most editors, though there is no agreement on the remedy. The Herald is plainly asking why the people at home are despondent: picks up the Chorus's phrase . But as Wilamowitz says, ‘ de populo aut senatu Argivorum accipi non potest’: it can only mean the army at Troy, as in lines 538 and 545. The usual inference is that arparw is corrupt.
This paperback edition of Dodds's standard edition of Plato's Gorgias is designed to meet the needs both of undergraduates and professional scholars. The text and apparatus criticus are based on a fresh survey of the evidence: two major manuscripts are here for the first time fully collated, and account has been taken both of new papyri and of the exceptionally rich indirect tradition. The text is supplemented by a full introduction giving details on the subject and structure of the dialogue, (...) its characters and intended historical setting, the real date of composition, and the background to Plato and Athens at the time of composition. The commentary, besides explaining Platonic usages and discussing textual points, aims to treat the historical, philosphical, and literary questions which arise from the text. (shrink)
As the later phases of Greek thought are at last beginning to receive in England and Ireland the attention they merit, it is hoped that the following critical notes on Plotinus may be of interest to a few readers. Some involve points of doctrine; others are intended to illustrate certain shortcomings of the German school, who have hitherto been practically the sole workers in the textual field.
Mr. G. S. Kirk's interesting and illuminating treatment of this curious fragment in CQ,. xliv , pp. 149–57, prompts me to offer some further conjectures on the reading and interpretation of lines 15–23, on the character of the fragment as a whole. I am indebted for valuable help both to Mr. Kirk himself and to Mr. C. H. Roberts.