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Today the name Socrates invokes a powerful idealization of wisdom and nobility that would surprise many of his contemporaries, who excoriated the philosopher for corrupting youth. The problem of who Socrates "really" was—the true history of his activities and beliefs—has long been thought insoluble, and most recent Socratic studies have instead focused on reconstructing his legacy and tracing his ideas through other philosophical traditions. But this scholarship has neglected to examine closely a period of philosophy that has much to reveal about what Socrates stood for and how he taught: the Neoplatonic tradition of the first six centuries C.E., which at times decried or denied his importance yet relied on his methods.
In The Neoplatonic Socrates, leading scholars in classics and philosophy address this gap by examining Neoplatonic attitudes toward the Socratic method, Socratic love, Socrates's divine mission and moral example, and the much-debated issue of moral rectitude. Collectively, they demonstrate the importance of Socrates for the majority of Neoplatonists, a point that has often been questioned owing to the comparative neglect of surviving commentaries on the Alcibiades, Gorgias, Phaedo, and Phaedrus, in favor of dialogues dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues. Supplemented with a contextualizing introduction and a substantial appendix detailing where evidence for Socrates can be found in the extant literature, The Neoplatonic Socrates makes a clear case for the significant place Socrates held in the education and philosophy of late antiquity.
Contributors: Crystal Addey, James M. Ambury, John F. Finamore, Michael Griffin, Marilynn Lawrence, Danielle A. Layne, Christina-Panagiota Manolea, François Renaud, Geert Roskam, Harold Tarrant.
What would stoic ethics be like today if stoicism had survived as a systematic approach to ethical theory, if it had coped successfully with the challenges of modern philosophy and experimental science? A New Stoicism proposes an answer to that question, offered from within the stoic tradition but without the metaphysical and psychological assumptions that modern philosophy and science have abandoned. Lawrence Becker argues that a secular version of the stoic ethical project, based on contemporary cosmology and developmental psychology, provides the basis for a sophisticated form of ethical naturalism, in which virtually all the hard doctrines of the ancient Stoics can be clearly restated and defended.
Becker argues, in keeping with the ancients, that virtue is one thing, not many; that it, and not happiness, is the proper end of all activity; that it alone is good, all other things being merely rank-ordered relative to each other for the sake of the good; and that virtue is sufficient for happiness. Moreover, he rejects the popular caricature of the stoic as a grave figure, emotionally detached and capable mainly of endurance, resignation, and coping with pain. To the contrary, he holds that while stoic sages are able to endure the extremes of human suffering, they do not have to sacrifice joy to have that ability, and he seeks to turn our attention from the familiar, therapeutic part of stoic moral training to a reconsideration of its theoretical foundations.
Late Scholastic Theory of Supertranscendental Being
Sylvester Mauro, S.J. (1619-1687) noted that human intellects can grasp what is,what is not, what can be, and what cannot be. The first principle, ‘it is not possible that the same thing simultaneously be and not be,' involves them all. The present volume begins with Greeks distinguishing ‘being' from ‘something' and proceeds to the late Scholastic doctrine of ‘supertranscendental being,' which embraces both. On the way is Aristotle's distinction between ‘being as being' and ‘being as true' and his extension of the latter to include impossible objects. The Stoics will see ‘something' as the widest object of human cognition and will affirm that, as signifiable, impossible objects are something, more than mere nonsense. In the sixteenth century, Francisco Suárez will identify mind-dependent beings most of all with impossible objects and will also regard them as signifiable. By this point, two conceptions will stand in opposition. One, adumbrated by Averroes, will explicitly accept the reality and knowability of impossible objects. The other, going back to Alexander of Aphrodisias, will see impossibles as accidental and false conjunctions of possible objects. Seventeenth-century Scholastics will divide on this line, but in one way or another will anticipate the Kantian notion of ‘der Gegenstand überhaupt.' Going farther, Scholastics will see the two-sided upper border of being and knowing at God and the negative theology, and will fix the equally double lower border at ‘supertranscendental being' and ‘supertranscendental nonbeing,' which non-being, remaining intelligible, will negate the actual, the possible, and even the impossible.
An Approach to Aristotle's Poetics
Ontology and the Art of Tragedy is a sustained reflection on the principles and criteria from which to guide one’s approach to Aristotle’s Poetics. Its scope is twofold: historical and systematic. In its historical aspect it develops an approach to Aristotle’s Poetics, which brings his distinctive philosophy of being to bear on the reception of this text. In its systematic aspect it relates Aristotle’s theory of art to the perennial desiderata of any theory of art, and particularly to Kandinsky’s.
A provocative close reading that reveals a radical, proto-phenomenological Socrates
An English Translation of the "Hamartigenia"
Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348-ca. 406) is one of the great Christian Latin writers of late antiquity. Born in northeastern Spain during an era of momentous change for both the Empire and the Christian religion, he was well educated, well connected, and a successful member of the late Roman elite, a man fully engaged with the politics and culture of his times. Prudentius wrote poetry that was deeply influenced by classical writers and in the process he revived the ethical, historical, and political functions of poetry. This aspect of his work was especially valued in the Middle Ages by Christian writers who found themselves similarly drawn to the Classical tradition.
Prudentius's Hamartigenia, consisting of a 63-line preface followed by 966 lines of dactylic hexameter verse, considers the origin of sin in the universe and its consequences, culminating with a vision of judgment day: the damned are condemned to torture, worms, and flames, while the saved return to a heaven filled with delights, one of which is the pleasure of watching the torments of the damned. As Martha A. Malamud shows in the interpretive essay that accompanies her lapidary translation, the first new English translation in more than forty years, Hamartigenia is critical for understanding late antique ideas about sin, justice, gender, violence, and the afterlife. Its radical exploration of and experimentation with language have inspired generations of thinkers and poets since-most notably John Milton, whose Paradise Lost owes much of its conception of language and its strikingly visual imagery to Prudentius's poem.
Literary Culture and Poetic Theory in Classical Greece
By "literary criticism" we usually mean a self-conscious act involving the technical and aesthetic appraisal, by individuals, of autonomous works of art. Aristotle and Plato come to mind. The word "social" does not. Yet, as this book shows, it should--if, that is, we wish to understand where literary criticism as we think of it today came from. Andrew Ford offers a new understanding of the development of criticism, demonstrating that its roots stretch back long before the sophists to public commentary on the performance of songs and poems in the preliterary era of ancient Greece. He pinpoints when and how, later in the Greek tradition than is usually assumed, poetry was studied as a discipline with its own principles and methods.
The Origins of Criticism complements the usual, history-of-ideas approach to the topic precisely by treating criticism as a social as well as a theoretical activity. With unprecedented and penetrating detail, Ford considers varying scholarly interpretations of the key texts discussed. Examining Greek discussions of poetry from the late sixth century B.C. through the rise of poetics in the late fourth, he asks when we first can recognize anything like the modern notions of literature as imaginative writing and of literary criticism as a special knowledge of such writing.
Serving as a monumental preface to Aristotle's Poetics, this book allows readers to discern the emergence, within the manifold activities that might be called criticism, of the historically specific discourse on poetry that has shaped subsequent Western approaches to literature.
An Interpretation of Plato's Theaetetus
In this interpretive commentary on Theaetetus, Gregory Kirk makes a major contribution to scholarship on Plato by emphasizing the relevance of the interpersonal dynamics between the interlocutors for the interpretation of the dialogue’s central arguments about knowledge. Kirk attends closely to the personalities of the participants in the dialogue, focusing especially on the unique demands faced by a student—in this case, Theaetetus—and the ways in which one can embrace or deflect the responsibilities of learning. Kirk’s approach gives equal consideration to the dual demands of dramatic interpretation and philosophical argument that constitute the unique character of the Platonic text, and he develops an original interpretation of the Theaetetus, concluding that the uncertainty that characterizes wisdom supersedes the certainty of knowledge.
Plato's Two Paradigms
In Plato's Republic, Socrates contends that philosophers make the best rulers because only they behold with their mind's eye the eternal and purely intelligible Forms of the Just, the Noble, and the Good. When, in addition, these men and women are endowed with a vast array of moral, intellectual, and personal virtues and are appropriately educated, surely no one could doubt the wisdom of entrusting to them the governance of cities. Although it is widely-and reasonably-assumed that all the Republic's philosophers are the same, Roslyn Weiss argues in this boldly original book that the Republic actually contains two distinct and irreconcilable portrayals of the philosopher.
According to Weiss, Plato's two paradigms of the philosopher are the "philosopher by nature" and the "philosopher by design." Philosophers by design, as the allegory of the Cave vividly shows, must be forcibly dragged from the material world of pleasure to the sublime realm of the intellect, and from there back down again to the "Cave" to rule the beautiful city envisioned by Socrates and his interlocutors. Yet philosophers by nature, described earlier in the Republic, are distinguished by their natural yearning to encounter the transcendent realm of pure Forms, as well as by a willingness to serve others-at least under appropriate circumstances. In contrast to both sets of philosophers stands Socrates, who represents a third paradigm, one, however, that is no more than hinted at in the Republic. As a man who not only loves "what is" but is also utterly devoted to the justice of others-even at great personal cost-Socrates surpasses both the philosophers by design and the philosophers by nature. By shedding light on an aspect of the Republic that has escaped notice, Weiss's new interpretation will challenge Plato scholars to revisit their assumptions about Plato's moral and political philosophy.