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The account of the best life for humans – i.e. a happy or flourishing life – and what it might consist of was the central theme of ancient ethics. But what does it take to have a life that, if not happy, is at least worth living, compared with being dead or never having come into life? This question was also much discussed in antiquity, and David Machek's book reconstructs, for the first time, philosophical engagements with the question from Socrates to Plotinus. Machek's comprehensive book explores ancient views on a life worth living against a background of the pessimistic outlook on the human condition which was adopted by the Greek poets, and also shows the continuities and contrasts between the ancient perspective and modern philosophical debates about biomedical ethics and the ethics of procreation. His rich study of this relatively neglected theme offers a fresh and compelling narrative of ancient ethics.
This book is the first major study of providence in the thought of John Chrysostom, a popular preacher in Syrian Antioch and later archbishop of Constantinople (ca. 350 to 407 CE). While Chrysostom is often considered a moralist and exegete, this study explores how his theology of providence profoundly affected his larger ethical and exegetical thought. Robert Edwards argues that Chrysostom considers biblical narratives as vehicles of a doctrine of providence in which God is above all loving towards humankind. Narratives of God's providence thus function as sources of consolation for Chrysostom's suffering audiences, and may even lead them now, amid suffering, to the resurrection life-the life of the angels. In the course of surveying Chrysostom's theology of providence and his use of scriptural narratives for consolation, Edwards also positions Chrysostom's theology and exegesis, which often defy categorization, within the preacher's immediate Antiochene and Nicene contexts.
Plato's Phaedo is a literary gem that develops many of his most famous ideas. David Ebrey's careful reinterpretation argues that the many debates about the dialogue cannot be resolved so long as we consider its passages in relative isolation from one another, separated from their intellectual background. His book shows how Plato responds to his literary, religious, scientific, and philosophical context, and argues that we can only understand the dialogue's central ideas and arguments in light of its overall structure. This approach yields new interpretations of the dialogue's key ideas, including the nature and existence of 'Platonic' forms, the existence of the soul after death, the method of hypothesis, and the contemplative ethical ideal. Moreover, this comprehensive approach shows how the characters play an integral role in the Phaedo's development and how its literary structure complements Socrates' views while making its own distinctive contribution to the dialogue's drama and ideas.
This Companion provides a comprehensive guide to ancient logic. The first part charts its chronological development, focussing especially on the Greek tradition, and discusses its two main systems: Aristotle's logic of terms and the Stoic logic of propositions. The second part explores the key concepts at the heart of the ancient logical systems: truth, definition, terms, propositions, syllogisms, demonstrations, modality and fallacy. The systematic discussion of these concepts allows the reader to engage with some specific logical and exegetical issues and to appreciate their transformations across different philosophical traditions. The intersections between logic, mathematics and rhetoric are also explored. The third part of the volume discusses the reception and influence of ancient logic in the history of philosophy and its significance for philosophy in our own times. Comprehensive coverage, chapters by leading international scholars and a critical overview of the recent literature in the field will make this volume essential for students and scholars of ancient logic.
Generation and Corruption II is concerned with Aristotle's theory of the elements, their reciprocal transformations and the cause of their perpetual generation and corruption. These matters are essential to Aristotle's picture of the world, making themselves felt throughout his natural science, including those portions of it that concern living things. What is more, the very inquiry Aristotle pursues in this text, with its focus on definition, generality, and causation, throws important light on his philosophy of science more generally. This volume contains eleven new essays, one for each of the chapters of this Aristotelian text, plus a general introduction and an English translation of the Greek text. It gives substantial attention to an important and neglected text, and highlights its relevance to other topics of current and enduring interest.
Aristotle thinks that happiness is an activity – it consists in doing something – rather than a feeling. It is the best activity of which humans are capable and is spread out over the course of a life. But what kind of activity is it? Some of his remarks indicate that it is a single best kind of activity, intellectual contemplation. Other evidence suggests that it is an overarching activity that has various virtuous activities, ethical and intellectual, as parts. Numerous interpreters have sharply disagreed about Aristotle's answers to such questions. In this book, Bryan Reece offers a fundamentally new approach to determining what kind of activity Aristotle thinks happiness is, one that challenges widespread assumptions that have until now prevented a dialectically satisfactory interpretation. His approach displays the boldness and systematicity of Aristotle's practical philosophy.
The first edition of the Cambridge Companion to Plato (1992), edited by Richard Kraut, shaped scholarly research and guided new students for thirty years. This new edition introduces students to fresh approaches to Platonic dialogues while advancing the next generation of research. Of its seventeen chapters, nine are entirely new, written by a new generation of scholars. Six others have been thoroughly revised and updated by their original authors. The volume covers the full range of Plato's interests, including ethics, political philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, religion, mathematics, and psychology. Plato's dialogues are approached as unified works and considered within their intellectual context, and the revised introduction suggests a way of reading the dialogues that attends to the differences between them while also tracing their interrelations. The result is a rich and wide-ranging volume which will be valuable for all students and scholars of Plato.
Plotinus stands at a crossroads in ancient philosophy, between the more than 600 years of philosophy that came before him and the new Platonic tradition. He was the first and perhaps the greatest systematizer of Plato's thought, and all later students of Plato in the following centuries approached Plato through him. This Companion from a new generation of ancient philosophy scholars reflects the current state of research on Plotinus, with chapters on topics including mathematics, fate and determinism, happiness, the theory of forms, categories of reality, matter and evil, and Plotinus' legacy. The volume offers an accessible overview of the thought of one of the pivotal figures in the history of philosophy, and reveals his importance as a thinker whose impact goes far beyond his importance as an interpreter of Plato.
The commentary on Plato's Republic by Proclus (d. 485 CE), which takes the form of a series of essays, is the only sustained treatment of the dialogue to survive from antiquity. This three-volume edition presents the first complete English translation of Proclus' text, together with a general introduction that argues for the unity of Proclus' Commentary and orients the reader to the use which the Neoplatonists made of Plato's Republic in their educational program. Each volume is completed by a Greek word index and an English-Greek glossary that will help non-specialists to track the occurrence of key terms throughout the translated text. The second volume of the edition presents Proclus' essays on the tripartite soul and the virtues, female philosopher rulers, and the metaphysics and epistemology of the central books of the Republic. The longest of the essays in Volume II interprets the nature and significance of the 'marriage number' whose miscalculation leads to the degeneration of the ideal city-state.
Most modern readers of the Stoics think first of later authors such as Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Existing works like Long and Sedley's The Hellenistic Philosophers concentrate on the Stoics of the early school. This book focusses on the more influential later school, including key figures like Panaetius and Posidonius, and provides well-chosen selections from the full range of Stoic thinkers. It emphasizes their important work in logic, physics and cosmology as well as in ethics. Fresh translations and incisive commentary present a picture of Stoic thought informed by up-to-date historical research and philosophical analysis. The book will be essential for scholars and students of ancient philosophy and of Hellenistic and Roman culture.
Myles Burnyeat (1939-2019) was a major figure in the study of ancient Greek philosophy during the last decades of the twentieth century and the first of this. After teaching positions in London and Cambridge, where he became Laurence Professor, in 1996 he took up a Senior Research Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, from which he retired in 2006. In 2012 he published two volumes collecting essays dating from before the move to Oxford. Two new posthumously published volumes bring together essays from his years at All Souls and his retirement. The essays in Volume 4 are addressed principally to scholars engaging first with fundamental issues in Platonic and Aristotelian metaphysics and epistemology and in Aristotle's philosophical psychology. Then follow studies tackling problems in interpreting the approaches to physics and cosmology taken by Plato and Aristotle, and in assessing the evidence for early Greek exercises in optics.
Myles Burnyeat (1939–2019) was a major figure in the study of ancient Greek philosophy during the last decades of the twentieth century and the first of this. After teaching positions in London and Cambridge, where he became Laurence Professor, in 1996 he took up a Senior Research Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, from which he retired in 2006. In 2012 he published two volumes collecting essays dating from before the move to Oxford. Two new posthumously published volumes bring together essays from his years at All Souls and his retirement. The main body of Volume 3 presents studies written for a wide readership, first on Plato's Republic and then on the reading and interpretation of Plato in subsequent periods, particularly in nineteenth-century Britain. The volume also includes hitherto unpublished lectures, 'The Archaeology of Feeling', on the ancient origins of some key modern philosophical and psychological concepts.
The Cambridge Edition of Early Christian Writings provides the definitive anthology of early Christian texts from ca. 100 CE to ca. 650 CE. Its volumes reflect the cultural, intellectual, and linguistic diversity of early Christianity, and are organized thematically on the topics of God, Practice, Christ, Community, Reading, and Creation. The series expands the pool of source material to include not only Greek and Latin writings, but also Syriac and Coptic texts. Additionally, the series rejects a theologically normative view by juxtaposing texts that were important in antiquity but later deemed 'heretical' with orthodox texts. The translations are accompanied by introductions, notes, suggestions for further reading, and scriptural indices. The fourth volume focuses on early Christian reflection on Christ as God incarnate from ca. 450 CE to the eighth century. It will be an invaluable resource for students and academic researchers in early Christian studies, history of Christianity, theology and religious studies, and late antique Roman history.
The Charmides is a difficult and enigmatic dialogue traditionally considered one of Plato's Socratic dialogues. This book provides a close text commentary on the dialogue which tracks particular motifs throughout. These notably include the characterization of Critias, Charmides, and Socrates; the historical context and subtext, literary features such as irony and foreshadowing; the philosophical context and especially how the dialogue looks back to more traditional Socratic dialogues and forward to dialogues traditionally placed in Plato's middle and late period; and most importantly the philosophical and logical details of the arguments and their dialectical function. A new translation of the dialogue is included in an appendix. This will be essential reading for all scholars and students of Plato and of ancient philosophy.
The Cambridge Edition of Early Christian Writings provides the definitive anthology of early Christian texts from ca. 100 CE to ca. 650 CE. Its volumes reflect the cultural, intellectual, and linguistic diversity of early Christianity, and are organized thematically on the topics of God, Practice, Christ, Community, Reading, and Creation. The series expands the pool of source material to include not only Greek and Latin writings, but also Syriac and Coptic texts. Additionally, the series rejects a theologically normative view by juxtaposing texts that were important in antiquity but later deemed 'heretical' with orthodox texts. The translations are accompanied by introductions, notes, suggestions for further reading, and scriptural indices. The third volume focuses on early Christian reflection on Christ as God incarnate from the first century to ca. 450 CE. It will be an invaluable resource for students and academic researchers in early Christian studies, history of Christianity, theology and religious studies, and late antique Roman history.
The role of Greek thought in the final days of the Roman republic is a topic that has garnered much attention in recent years. This volume of essays, commissioned specially from a distinguished international group of scholars, explores the role and influence of Greek philosophy, specifically Epicureanism, in the late republic. It focuses primarily (although not exclusively) on the works and views of Cicero, premier politician and Roman philosopher of the day, and Lucretius, foremost among the representatives and supporters of Epicureanism at the time. Throughout the volume, the impact of such disparate reception on the part of these leading authors is explored in a way that illuminates the popularity as well as the controversy attached to the followers of Epicurus in Italy, ranging from ethical and political concerns to the understanding of scientific and celestial phenomena.
Aristotle's On the Soul aims to uncover the principle of life, what Aristotle calls psuchē (soul). For Aristotle, soul is the form which gives life to a body and causes all its living activities, from breathing to thinking. Aristotle develops a general account of all types of living through examining soul's causal powers. The thirteen new essays in this Critical Guide demonstrate the profound influence of Aristotle's inquiry on biology, psychology and philosophy of mind from antiquity to the present. They deepen our understanding of his key concepts, including form, reason, capacity, and activity. This volume situates Aristotle in his intellectual context and draws judiciously from his other works as well as the history of interpretation to shed light on his intricate views. It also highlights ongoing interpretive debates and Aristotle's continuing relevance. It will prove invaluable for researchers in ancient philosophy and the history of science and ideas.
Why is the human mind able to perceive and understand the truth about reality; that is, why does it seem to be the mind's specific function to know the world? Sean Kelsey argues that both the question itself and the way Aristotle answers it are key to understanding his work De Anima, a systematic philosophical account of the soul and its powers. In this original reading of a familiar but highly compressed text, Kelsey shows how this question underpins Aristotle's inquiry into the nature of soul, sensibility, and intelligence. He argues that, for Aristotle, the reason why it is in human nature to know beings is that 'the soul in a way is all beings'. This new perspective on the De Anima throws fresh and interesting light on familiar Aristotelian doctrines: for example, that sensibility is a kind of ratio (logos), or that the intellect is simple, separate, and unmixed.
To scholars of ancient philosophy, theoria denotes abstract thinking, with both Plato and Aristotle employing the term to signify philosophical contemplation. Yet it is surprising for some to find an earlier, traditional meaning referring to travel to festivals and shrines. In an attempt to dissolve the problem of equivocal reference, Julie Ward's book seeks to illuminate the nature of traditional theoria as ancient festival-attendance as well as the philosophical account developed in Plato and Aristotle. First, she examines the traditional use referring to periodic festivals, including their complex social and political arrangements, then she considers the subsequent use by Plato and Aristotle. Broadly speaking, she discerns a common thread running throughout both uses: namely, the notion of having a visual experience of the sacred or divine. Thus her book aims to illuminate the nature of philosophical theoria described by Plato and Aristotle in light of traditional, festival theoria.