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Love Song for the Life of the Mind

An Essay on the Purpose of Comedy

Gene Fendt

Love Song for the Life of the Mind develops the view of comedy that, the author argues, would have been set out in Aristotle's missing second book of Poetics. As such it is both a philosophical and a historical argument about Aristotle; and the theory of comedy it elucidates is meant to be trans-historically and trans-culturally accurate.

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Lucretius

His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance

Lucretius (c. 99 BCE–c. 55 BCE) is the author of De Rerum Natura, a work which tries to explain and expound the doctrines of the earlier Greek philosopher Epicurus. The Epicurean view of the world is that it is composed entirely of atoms moving about in infinite space. The implications of this view are profound: the proper study of the world is the province of natural philosophy (science); there are no supernatural gods who created the world or who direct its course or who can reward or punish us; death is simply annihilation, and so there is no next life and no torment in an underworld. Epicurus, and then his disciple Lucretius, advocated a simple life, free from mental turmoil and anguish. The essays in this collection deal with Lucretius’s critique of religion, his critique of traditional attitudes about death, and his influences on later thinkers such as Isaac Newton and Alfred Tennyson. We see that Lucretius’s philosophy is connected to contemporary philosophy such as existentialism and that aspects of his thought work against trying to separate the sciences and the humanities. Lucretius: His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance is the title of a 2009 conference on Lucretius held at St. John Fisher College, when many of the ideas in these essays were first presented.

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Miroir et Savoir

Daniël De Smet, Meryem Sebti, Godefroid De Callatäy (eds)

Grâce à sa grande richesse, la métaphore platonicienne du miroir a été adoptée, amplifiée et élaborée dans l’Antiquité par une multitude d’auteurs, certes tous d’inspiration platonicienne, mais appartenant à la fois au paganisme et au christianisme. Lorsqu’on étudie cette métaphore dans le corpus philosophique, mystique et poétique en terre d’Islam, on constate qu’il ne s’agit pas d’une récurrence fortuite, d’un lieu commun, d’un archétype de la pensée humaine. Il s’agit au contraire de l’adoption d’un thème précis, toujours lié à un contexte platonicien malgré la pluralité des courants dans lesquels il apparaît. Les contributeurs au livre Miroir et Savoir se sont attachés à étudier les modalités selon lesquelles le thème platonicien du miroir est passé du paganisme et du christianisme à la culture arabo-musulmane, de la langue grecque et syriaque à l’arabe et au persan. Ils ont tenté de dévoiler les mécanismes de ces passages et d’en déterminer l’enjeu conceptuel. Cet ouvrage espère ainsi apporter une contribution au dossier de l’histoire de la réception du corpus philosophique grec dans le monde arabo-musulman.

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Mortal Imitations of Divine Life

The Nature of the Soul in Aristotle's De Anima

In Mortal Imitations of Divine Life, Diamond offers an interpretation of De Anima, which explains how and why Aristotle places souls in a hierarchy of value. Aristotle’s central intention in De Anima is to discover the nature and essence of soul—the prin­ciple of living beings. He does so by identifying the common structures underlying every living activity, whether it be eating, perceiving, thinking, or moving through space. As Diamond demonstrates through close readings of De Anima, the nature of the soul is most clearly seen in its divine life, while the embodied soul’s other activi­ties are progressively clear approximations of this principle. This interpretation shows how Aristotle’s psychology and biology cannot be properly understood apart from his theological conception of God as life, and offers a new explanation of De Anima’s unity of purpose and structure.

 

 

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Natural Spectaculars

Aspects of Plutarch’s Philosophy of Nature

Michiel Meeusen , Luc Van der Stockt (eds)

The value of Plutarch’s perception of physical reality and his attitude towards the natural spectacle. Plutarch was very interested in the natural world around him, not only in terms of its elementary composition and physical processes, but also with respect to its providential ordering and marvels. His writings teach us a lot about his perception of physical reality and about his attitude to the natural spectacle. He found his greatest inspiration in the ontological and epistemological framework of Plato’s Timaeus, but a wide range of other authors were also of seminal interest to his project. Moreover, the highly literary value of Plutarch’s natural philosophical writings should not be underrated. It is therefore not surprising that recently scholars have started to reassess the ancient scientific value of Plutarch’s natural philosophical writings. Natural Spectaculars aims to give further impetus to this dynamic by treating several aspects of Plutarch’s natural philosophy which have remained unexplored up to now. Contributors: Jan Opsomer (KU Leuven), Suzan Sierksma-Agteres (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen), Angelo Casanova (Università degli Studi di Firenze), Paola Volpe Cacciatore (Università degli Studi di Salerno), Aldo Setaioli (Università degli Studi di Perugia), Fabio Tanga (Università degli Studi di Salerno), Michiel Meeusen (KU Leuven), Luisa Lesage Gárriga (Universidad de Málaga), Ana Ferreira (Universidade do Porto), Israel Muñoz Gallarte (Universidad de Córdoba), Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen), Bram Demulder (KU Leuven), Aurelio Pérez Jiménez (Universidad de Málaga), Delfim Ferreira Leão (Universidade de Coimbra)

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The Neoplatonic Socrates

Edited by Danielle A. Layne and Harold Tarrant

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.

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A New Stoicism

Lawrence C. Becker

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.

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On the Borders of Being and Knowing

Late Scholastic Theory of Supertranscendental Being

John P. Doyle. Edited by Victor M. Salas

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.

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Ontology and the Art of Tragedy

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.

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Ontology of Socratic Questioning in Plato's Early Dialogues, The

A provocative close reading that reveals a radical, proto-phenomenological Socrates

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