A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, Volume 1: by Peter Adamson

By Peter Adamson

Classical Philosophy is the 1st of a sequence of books during which Peter Adamson goals finally to offer an entire heritage of philosophy, extra completely but in addition extra enjoyably than ever ahead of. briefly, vigorous chapters, in response to the preferred History of Philosophy podcast, he bargains an available, funny, and specified examine the emergence of philosophy with the Presocratics, the probing questions of Socrates, and the 1st complete flowering of philosophy with the dialogues of Plato and the treatises of Aristotle. the tale is informed "without any gaps," discussing not just such significant figures but in addition much less normally mentioned subject matters just like the Hippocratic Corpus, the Platonic Academy, and the function of girls in old philosophy. in the considered Plato and Aristotle, the reader will locate in-depth introductions to significant works, resembling the Republic and the Nicomachean Ethics, that are handled intimately that's strange in an advent to historical philosophy. Adamson appears at attention-grabbing yet much less often learn Platonic dialogues just like the Charmides and Cratylus, and Aristotle's principles in zoology and poetics. This complete assurance permits him to take on historical discussions in all parts of philosophy, together with epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of technology, ethics and politics. cognizance can be given to the historic and literary context of classical philosophy, with exploration of ways early Greek cosmology replied to the poets Homer and Hesiod, how Socrates was once awarded by means of the comedian playwright Aristophanes and the historian Xenophon, and the way occasions in Greek background can have encouraged Plato's inspiration. it is a new type of background for you to deliver philosophy to lifestyles for all readers, together with these coming to the topic for the 1st time.

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The Iliad, as you probably know already, is the story of the Trojan War, in which the Greeks, led by Agamemnon, lay siege to Troy in order to recover the beautiful Helen, of her-face-is-so-beautiful-it-launched-a-thousand-ships fame. The thousand ships her face launched were the ones carrying the Greeks to Troy. The Iliad covers only a little bit of the Trojan War. As it says in its opening lines, it focuses on the “wrath of Achilles”: the story of how Achilles is offended and refuses to fight, leading to a stalemate between the two armies, until his anger is roused and he comes out and kills Hector, the Trojans’ main hero.

Supposedly, Thales’ knowledge of weather conditions enabled him to predict a bumper crop of olives in the coming season. He went around and cornered the market on olive-presses, so that he could make a fortune when the predicted crop came in and everyone needed to turn their olives into oil. On the other hand, Plato tells a story about Thales walking along looking at the sky, and falling into a well because he isn’t watching where he’s going (§72). Conveniently for the anecdote there’s a servant-woman on hand to laugh at him, underscoring the point that philosophers don’t notice the world at their feet because they’re so busy looking at the sky.

For this reason it’s traditional to describe Thales and the other Pre-Socratics as being rational, as opposed to the presumably irrational culture that went before them. But this is not a very useful way of looking at it. The main texts we have to illustrate Greek cultural beliefs before the time of Thales are the works of Homer and Hesiod. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey would in fact have been, already for the Pre-Socratics, the greatest touchstones of Greek culture. In the ancient Greek world they played the sort of role that the Bible did in medieval Europe, and that Shakespeare does for us—or used to when people knew their Shakespeare.

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