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Central Works of Philosophy
  • This book is no longer available to purchase from Cambridge Core
  • Volume 1: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
  • Edited by John Shand, Open University

Book description

CENTRAL WORKS OF PHILOSOPHY is a multi-volume set of essays on the core texts of the western philosophical tradition. From Plato's Republic to the present day, the volumes range over 2,500 years of philosophical writing covering the best, most representative, and most influential work of some of our greatest philosophers. Each essay has been specially commissioned and provides an overview of the work and clear and authoritative exposition of its central ideas. Volume 1 examines ten of the most important works of philosophy to have been written in the ancient and medieval periods, beginning with some classic works of ancient Greek philosophy: the Republic, Plato's study of justice; Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle's investigation of the good life; and On the Nature of the Universe, Lucretius's poetic version of Epicureanism. In addition the book examines two major works of philosophy of the Roman period: Sextus Empiricus's account of the sceptical philosophy of Pyrrho in Outlines of Pyrrhonism and the Neoplatonism of Plotinus's The Enneads. The second part of the book covers the period, from the fall of the Roman Empire to the dawn of the Renaissance, when philosophy in western Europe sought to harmonize the ideas of the great philosophers of antiquity with Christian belief. Five works are examined: City of God by the Christian philosopher and Church Father, Augustine, which fuses the ideas of Plato and Neoplatonism with Christianity; Anselm's Proslogion in which he outlines his famous "ontological" argument for the existence of God; the monumental Summa Theologiae, Aquinas's supreme synthesis of the philosophy of Aristotle and Christianity; Duns Scotus's Ordinatio, a reaction against the ideas of Aquinas, which meticulously explores detailed metaphysical problems of existence and identity; and finally, Ockham's Summa Logicae, which develops a nominalist metaphysic through some brilliant logical theory.


"This is an outstanding collection of essays on famous philosophical works that have shaped western civilization. The authors are top specialists in their respective fields, and they present clear and exciting expositions of their subjects. This is a 'must-have' volume for any student of philosophy who wants an authoritative and accessible guide to these classics."

James Fieser

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