Ancient Philosophy (A New History of Western Philosophy - by Anthony Kenny

By Anthony Kenny

Sir Anthony Kenny right here tells the interesting tale of the delivery of philosophy and its notable flourishing within the historical Mediterranean global. this is often the preliminary quantity of a four-book set during which Kenny will spread a magisterial new heritage of Western philosophy, the 1st significant single-author historical past of philosophy to seem in many years. historic Philosophy spans over one thousand years and brings to lifestyles the good minds of the prior, from Thales, Pythagoras, and Parmenides, to Socrates, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Augustine. The book's nice advantage is that it's written through one of many world's prime experts at the topic. rather than an uncritical, hassle-free recitation of recognized facts--Plato and his cave of shadows, Aristotle's ethics, Augustine's urban of God--we see the foremost philosophers during the eyes of a guy who has spent an entire life considering their paintings. therefore we don't easily get an outline of Aristotle, for instance, yet a penetrating and insightful critique of his concept. Kenny deals an illuminating account of many of the faculties of concept, from the Pre-Socratics to the Epicureans. He examines the advance of good judgment and cause, old rules approximately physics ("how issues happen"), metaphysics and ethics, and the earliest brooding about the soul and god. Vividly written, yet severe and deep adequate to provide a real figuring out of the good philosophers, Kenny's lucid and stimulating historical past turns into the definitive paintings for someone drawn to the folk and concepts that formed the process Western concept.

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A cycle of reincarnation held out a hope of eventual deiWcation for privileged classes of men: seers, bards, doctors, and princes (KRS 409). Empedocles, of course, had a claim to identify himself with all these professions. In his writing, Empedocles moves seamlessly between an austerely mechanistic mode and a mystically religious one. He sometimes uses divine names for his four elements (Zeus, Hera, Aidoneus, and Nestis) and identiWes his Love with the goddess Aphrodite, whom he celebrates in terms anticipating Schiller’s great ‘Ode to Joy’ (KRS 349).

Our Wrst-hand acquaintance with his philosophy is less 19 see Ch. 6 below. 32 PYTHAGORAS TO PLATO than with that of Xenophanes, Parmenides, Empedocles, or Democritus. Yet his inXuence on subsequent philosophy, down to our own day, has been incomparably greater than theirs. In antiquity many schools of thought claimed Socrates as a founder and many individuals revered him as a paragon philosopher. In the Middle Ages his history was not much studied, but his name appears on the page whenever a logician or metaphysician wishes to give an example: ‘Socrates’ was to scholastic philosophers what ‘John Doe’ long was to legal writers.

For classical Athens, Heraclitus was the proponent of the theory that everything was in motion, and Parmenides the proponent of the theory that nothing was in motion. Plato and Aristotle struggled, in diVerent ways, to defend the audacious thesis that some things were in motion and some things were at rest. Parmenides, according to Aristotle (Metaph. A 5. 986b21–5), was a pupil of Xenophanes, but he was too young to have studied under him in Colophon. He spent most of his life in Elea, seventy miles or so south of Naples.

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