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From Plato to Platonism

by Lloyd P. Gerson

Was Plato a Platonist? While ancient disciples of Plato would have answered this question in the affirmative, modern scholars have generally denied that Plato’s own philosophy was in substantial agreement with that of the Platonists of succeeding centuries. In From Plato to Platonism, Lloyd P. Gerson argues that the ancients were correct in their assessment. He arrives at this conclusion in an especially ingenious manner, challenging fundamental assumptions about how Plato’s teachings have come to be understood. Through deft readings of the philosophical principles found in Plato's dialogues and in the Platonic tradition beginning with Aristotle, he shows that Platonism, broadly conceived, is the polar opposite of naturalism and that the history of philosophy from Plato until the seventeenth century was the history of various efforts to find the most consistent and complete version of “anti-naturalism."

Gerson contends that the philosophical position of Plato—Plato’s own Platonism, so to speak—was produced out of a matrix he calls “Ur-Platonism.” According to Gerson, Ur-Platonism is the conjunction of five “antis” that in total arrive at anti-naturalism: anti-nominalism, anti-mechanism, anti-materialism, anti-relativism, and anti-skepticism. Plato’s Platonism is an attempt to construct the most consistent and defensible positive system uniting the five “antis.” It is also the system that all later Platonists throughout Antiquity attributed to Plato when countering attacks from critics including Peripatetics, Stoics, and Sceptics. In conclusion, Gerson shows that Late Antique philosophers such as Proclus were right in regarding Plotinus as “the great exegete of the Platonic revelation."

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From Protagoras to Aristotle

Essays in Ancient Moral Philosophy

Heda Segvic

This is a collection of the late Heda Segvic's papers in ancient moral philosophy. At the time of her death at age forty-five in 2003, Segvic had already established herself as an important figure in ancient philosophy, making bold new arguments about the nature of Socratic intellectualism and the intellectual influences that shaped Aristotle's ideas. Segvic had been working for some time on a monograph on practical knowledge that would interpret Aristotle's ethical theory as a response to Protagoras. The essays collected here are those on which her reputation rests, including some that were intended to form the backbone of her projected monograph. The papers range from a literary study of Homer's influence on Plato's Protagoras to analytic studies of Aristotle's metaphysics and his ideas about deliberation. Most of the papers reflect directly or indirectly Segvic's idea that both Socrates' and Aristotle's universalism and objectivism in ethics could be traced back to their opposition to Protagorean relativism. The book represents the considerable achievements of one of the most talented scholars of ancient philosophy of her generation.

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Genealogy of the Tragic

Greek Tragedy and German Philosophy

Joshua Billings

Why did Greek tragedy and “the tragic” come to be seen as essential to conceptions of modernity? And how has this belief affected modern understandings of Greek drama? In Genealogy of the Tragic, Joshua Billings answers these and related questions by tracing the emergence of the modern theory of the tragic, which was first developed around 1800 by thinkers associated with German Idealism. The book argues that the idea of the tragic arose in response to a new consciousness of history in the late eighteenth century, which spurred theorists to see Greek tragedy as both a unique, historically remote form and a timeless literary genre full of meaning for the present. The book offers a new interpretation of the theories of Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Hölderlin, and others, as mediations between these historicizing and universalizing impulses, and shows the roots of their approaches in earlier discussions of Greek tragedy in Germany, France, and England. By examining eighteenth-century readings of tragedy and the interactions between idealist thinkers in detail, Genealogy of the Tragic offers the most comprehensive historical account of the tragic to date, as well as the fullest explanation of why and how the idea was used to make sense of modernity. The book argues that idealist theories remain fundamental to contemporary interpretations of Greek tragedy, and calls for a renewed engagement with philosophical questions in criticism of tragedy.

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Greek Concept of Nature, The

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.

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Happy Lives and the Highest Good

An Essay on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

Gabriel Richardson Lear

Gabriel Richardson Lear presents a bold new approach to one of the enduring debates about Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: the controversy about whether it coherently argues that the best life for humans is one devoted to a single activity, namely philosophical contemplation. Many scholars oppose this reading because the bulk of the Ethics is devoted to various moral virtues--courage and generosity, for example--that are not in any obvious way either manifestations of philosophical contemplation or subordinated to it. They argue that Aristotle was inconsistent, and that we should not try to read the entire Ethics as an attempt to flesh out the notion that the best life aims at the "monistic good" of contemplation.

In defending the unity and coherence of the Ethics, Lear argues that, in Aristotle's view, we may act for the sake of an end not just by instrumentally bringing it about but also by approximating it. She then argues that, for Aristotle, the excellent rational activity of moral virtue is an approximation of theoretical contemplation.

Thus, the happiest person chooses moral virtue as an approximation of contemplation in practical life. Richardson Lear bolsters this interpretation by examining three moral virtues--courage, temperance, and greatness of soul--and the way they are fine. Elegantly written and rigorously argued, this is a major contribution to our understanding of a central issue in Aristotle's moral philosophy.

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Heidegger and the Greeks

Interpretive Essays

Edited by Drew A. Hyland and John Panteleimon Manoussakis

Martin Heidegger's sustained reflection on Greek thought has been increasingly recognized as a decisive feature of his own philosophical development. At the same time, this important philosophical meeting has generated considerable controversy and disagreement concerning the radical originality of Heidegger's view of the Greeks and their place in his groundbreaking thinking. In Heidegger and the Greeks, an international group of distinguished philosophers sheds light on the issues raised by Heidegger's encounter and engagement with the Greeks. The careful and nuanced essays brought together here shed light on how core philosophical concepts such as phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, and ethics are understood today. For readers at all levels, this volume is an invitation to continue the important dialogue with Greek thinking that was started and stimulated by Heidegger.

Contributors are Claudia Baracchi, Walter A. Brogan, Günter Figal, Gregory Fried, Francisco J. Gonzalez, Drew A. Hyland, John Panteleimon Manoussakis, William J. Richardson, John Sallis, Dennis J. Schmidt, and Peter Warnek.

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Henrici de Gandavo Summa

Quaestiones ordinariae art. XLVII-LII

Markus L. Führer (ed.)

Volume 30 of the Henrici de Gandavo Opera Omnia series is devoted to Henry’s Summa quaestionum ordinariarum, articles 47-52. This section of Henry’s Summa deals with the action of the (divine) will; the divine will in relation to the divine intellect; divine beatitude; passion in relation to the divine being; the differences between the divine attributes; and the order of the divine attributes. The critical edition of the text is accompanied by a detailed introduction to the manuscripts and to Henry’s sources.

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Henricus de Gandavo Quodlibet IV

G. Wilson ; G.J. Etzkorn (eds)

Henry of Ghent, the most influential philosopher/theologian of the last quarter of the 13th century at Paris, delivered his fourth Quodlibet during 1279. This Quodlibet was written at the beginning of what could be called the height of his career. In total there are 37 questions, which cover a wide range of topics, including theories in theology, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical anthropology, ethics, and canon law. In these questions Henry presents his mature thought concerning the number of human substantial forms in which he counters the claims of the defenders of Thomas Aquinas, particularly those in Giles of Lessines’s De unitate formae, but also those found in Giles of Rome’s Contra Gradus. He is critical of Thomas Aquinas’s theories concerning human knowledge, the ‘more’ and the ‘less,’ and virtue. He also is critical of Bonaventure’s analysis of Augustine’s notion of rationes seminales. There are 33 known manuscripts which contain the text of Quodlibet IV, and the critical text is reconstructed based upon manuscripts known to have been in Henry’s school, as well as manuscripts copied from two successive university exemplars in Paris.

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Henry of Ghent: Metaphysics and the Trinity

With a Critical Edition of Question Six of Article Fifty-Five of the Summa Quaestionum Ordinariarum

Juan Carlos Flores

The book elucidates Henry of Ghent's philosophical and theological system with special reference to his trinitarian writings. It demonstrates the fundamental role of the Trinity in Henry's philosophy and theology. It also shows how Henry (d. 1293), the most influential theologian of his day at Paris, developed the Augustinian tradition in seminal ways in response to the Aristotelian tradition, especially Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274).

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How to Run a Country

An Ancient Guide for Modern Leaders

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus Cicero, Rome's greatest statesman and orator, was elected to the Roman Republic's highest office at a time when his beloved country was threatened by power-hungry politicians, dire economic troubles, foreign turmoil, and political parties that refused to work together. Sound familiar? Cicero's letters, speeches, and other writings are filled with timeless wisdom and practical insight about how to solve these and other problems of leadership and politics. How to Run a Country collects the best of these writings to provide an entertaining, common sense guide for modern leaders and citizens. This brief book, a sequel to How to Win an Election, gathers Cicero's most perceptive thoughts on topics such as leadership, corruption, the balance of power, taxes, war, immigration, and the importance of compromise. These writings have influenced great leaders--including America's Founding Fathers--for two thousand years, and they are just as instructive today as when they were first written.

Organized by topic and featuring lively new translations, the book also includes an introduction, headnotes, a glossary, suggestions for further reading, and an appendix containing the original Latin texts. The result is an enlightening introduction to some of the most enduring political wisdom of all time.

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