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Aristotle belongs to the small class of philosophers who were not only influential in a particular field of philosophy but also shaped the profile of every philosophical discipline. In this book Otfried Höffe provides a comprehensive introduction to the life and work of Aristotle, covering well-known Aristotelian topics such as ethics, politics, and metaphysics as well as the less familiar, such as biology, psychology, and rhetoric. Höffe also compares Aristotle to other major figures in the history of European (especially German) philosophy, making connections to Kant and Hegel that are particularly insightful. A picture of Aristotle emerges as a philosopher who is much more modern than previously thought, one whose writings are still relevant today and continue to make valuable contributions to many contemporary philosophical debates.
Accidents, Cause, Necessity, and Determinism
The first exhaustive study of Aristotle's concept of chance. This landmark book is the first to provide a comprehensive account of Aristotle’s concept of chance. Chance is invoked by many to explain order in the universe, the origins of life, even human freedom and happiness. An understanding of Aristotle’s concept of chance is indispensable for an appreciation of his views on nature and ethics, views which have had a tremendous influence on the development of Western philosophy. Author John Dudley analyzes Aristotle’s account of chance in the Physics, the Metaphysics, in his biological and ethical treatises, and in a number of his other works as well. Important complementary considerations such as Aristotle’s criticism of Presocratic philosophers, particularly Empedocles and Democritus, Plato’s concept of chance, the chronology of Aristotle’s works, and the relevance of Aristotle’s work to evolution and quantum theory are also covered in depth. This is an essential book for scholars and students of Western philosophy.
Revising a Classical Ideal
Augustine and the Cure of Souls situates Augustine within the ancient philosophical tradition of using words to order emotions. Paul Kolbet uncovers a profound continuity in Augustine’s thought, from his earliest pre-baptismal writings to his final acts as bishop, revealing a man deeply indebted to the Roman past and yet distinctly Christian. Rather than supplanting his classical learning, Augustine’s Christianity reinvigorated precisely those elements of Roman wisdom that he believed were slipping into decadence. In particular, Kolbet addresses the manner in which Augustine not only used classical rhetorical theory to express his theological vision, but also infused it with theological content. This book offers a fresh reading of Augustine’s writings—particularly his numerous, though often neglected, sermons—and provides an accessible point of entry into the great North African bishop’s life and thought.
Learning Socratic Lessons of Disillusion and Renewal
Thomas Eisele explores the premise that the Socratic method of inquiry need not teach only negative lessons (showing us what we do not know, but not what we do know). Instead, Eisele contends, the Socratic method is cyclical: we start negatively by recognizing our illusions, but end positively through a process of recollection performed in response to our disillusionment, which ultimately leads to renewal. Thus, a positive lesson about our resources as philosophical investigators, as students and teachers, becomes available to participants in Socrates’ robust conversational inquiry. Bitter Knowledge includes Eisele’s detailed readings of Socrates’ teaching techniques in three fundamental Platonic dialogues, Protagoras, Meno, and Theaetetus, as well as his engagement with contemporary authorities such as Gregory Vlastos, Martha Nussbaum, and Stanley Cavell. Written in a highly engaging and accessible style, this book will appeal to students and scholars in philosophy, classics, law, rhetoric, and education.
Cicero’s Practical Philosophy marks a revival over the last two generations of serious scholarly interest in Cicero’s political thought. Its nine original essays by a multidisciplinary group of distinguished international scholars manifest close study of Cicero’s philosophical writings and great appreciation for him as a creative thinker, one from whom we can continue to learn. This collection focuses initially on Cicero’s major work of political theory, his De Re Publica, and the key moral virtues that shape his ethics, but the contributors attend to all of Cicero’s primary writings on political community, law, the ultimate good, and moral duties. Room is also made for Cicero’s extensive writings on the art of rhetoric, which he explicitly draws into the orbit of his philosophical writings. Cicero’s concern with the divine, with epistemological issues, and with competing analyses of the human soul are among the matters necessarily encountered in pursuing, with Cicero, the large questions of moral and political philosophy, namely, what is the good and genuinely happy life and how are our communities to be rightly ordered.
From Bonaventure to MacIntyre
Conscience, once a core concept for ethics, has mostly disappeared from modern moral theory. In this book Douglas Langston traces its intellectual history to account for its neglect while arguing for its still vital importance, if correctly understood. In medieval times, Langston shows in Part I, the notions of "conscientia" and "synderesis" from which our contemporary concept of conscience derives were closely connected to Greek ideas about the virtues and practical reason, although in Christianized form. As modified by Luther, Butler, and Kant, however, conscience later came to be regarded as a faculty like will and intellect, and when faculty psychology fell into disrepute, so did the role of conscience in moral philosophy. A view of mature conscience that sees it as relational, with cognitive, emotional, and conative dimensions, can survive the criticisms of conscience as faculty. In Part II, through discussions of Freud, Ryle, and other modern thinkers, Langston proceeds to reconstruct conscience as a viable philosophical concept. Finally, in Part III, this better grounded concept is connected with the modern revival of virtue ethics, and Langston shows how crucial conscience is to a theory of virtue because it is fundamental to the training of any morally good person.
Self-Knowledge and Cryptic Nature in the Platonic Dialogues
Since the appearance of Plato's Dialogues, philosophers have been preoccupied with the identity of Socrates and have maintained that successful interpretation of the work hinges upon a clear understanding of what thoughts and ideas can be attributed to him. In Descent of Socrates, Peter Warnek offers a new interpretation of Plato by considering the appearance of Socrates within Plato's work as a philosophical question. Warnek reads the Dialogues as an inquiry into the nature of Socrates and in doing so opens up the relationship between humankind and the natural world. Here, Socrates appears as a demonic and tragic figure whose obsession with the task of self-knowledge transforms the history of philosophy. In this uncompromising work, Warnek reveals the importance of the concept of nature in the Platonic Dialogues in light of Socratic practice and the Ancient ideas that inspire contemporary philosophy.
His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance
The philosophy of Epicurus (c. 341-271 B. C. E.), has been a quietly pervasive influence for more than two millennia. At present, when many long revered ideologies are proven empty, Epicureanism is powerfully and refreshingly relevant, offering a straightforward way of dealing with the issues of life and death. The chapters in this book provide a kaleidoscope of contemporary opinions about Epicurus' teachings. They tell us also about the archeological discoveries that promise to augment the scant remains we have of Epicurus's own writing. the breadth of this new work will be welcomed by those who value Epicurean philosophy as a scholarly and personal resource for contemporary life. "Epicurus: His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance," is the title of a 2002 conference on Epicurus held at Rochester Institute of Technology, when many of the ideas here were first presented.
On Plato's Symposium
Provocative reinterpretation of Plato's Symposium. An original analysis of one of Plato’s most well-known and pivotal dialogues, this study is based upon the effort to think together the most manifest themes of the Symposium (the nature of eros and the relation between poetry and philosophy) with its less obvious but no less essential themes (the character of the city and the nature and limitations of sophistic enlightenment). Author Steven Berg offers an interpretation of this dialogue wherein all the speakers at the banquet—with the exception of Socrates—not only offer their views on the nature of love, but represent Athens and the Athenian enlightenment. Accordingly, Socrates’ speech, taken in relation to the speeches that precede it, is shown to articulate the relation between Socrates and the Athenian enlightenment, to expose the limitations of that enlightenment, and therefore finally to bring to light the irresolvable tension between Socrates and his philosophy and the city of Athens even at her most enlightened.
In The Greek Concept of Nature, Gerard Naddaf utilizes historical, mythological, and linguistic perspectives to reconstruct the origin and evolution of the Greek concept of phusis. Usually translated as nature, phusis has been decisive both for the early history of philosophy and for its subsequent development. However, there is a considerable amount of controversy on what the earliest philosophers—Anaximander, Xenophanes, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Leucippus, and Democritus—actually had in mind when they spoke of phusis or nature. Naddaf demonstrates that the fundamental and etymological meaning of the word refers to the whole process of birth to maturity. He argues that the use of phusis in the famous expression Peri phuseos or historia peri phuseos refers to the origin and the growth of the universe from beginning to end. Naddaf’s bold and original theory for the genesis of Greek philosophy demonstrates that archaic and mythological schemes were at the origin of the philosophical representations, but also that cosmogony, anthropogony, and politogony were never totally separated in early Greek philosophy.