Ancient Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 1

Ancient Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 1

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by Anthony Kenny
     
 

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Sir Anthony Kenny here tells the fascinating story of the birth of philosophy and its remarkable flourishing in the ancient Mediterranean world. This is the initial volume of a four-book set in which Kenny will unfold a magisterial new history of Western philosophy, the first major single-author history of philosophy to appear in decades.
Ancient Philosophy

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Overview

Sir Anthony Kenny here tells the fascinating story of the birth of philosophy and its remarkable flourishing in the ancient Mediterranean world. This is the initial volume of a four-book set in which Kenny will unfold a magisterial new history of Western philosophy, the first major single-author history of philosophy to appear in decades.
Ancient Philosophy spans over a thousand years and brings to life the great minds of the past, from Thales, Pythagoras, and Parmenides, to Socrates, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Augustine. The book's great virtue is that it is written by one of the world's leading authorities on the subject. Instead of an uncritical, straightforward recitation of known facts—Plato and his cave of shadows, Aristotle's ethics, Augustine's City of God—we see the major philosophers through the eyes of a man who has spent a lifetime contemplating their work. Thus we do not simply get an overview of Aristotle, for example, but a penetrating and insightful critique of his thought. Kenny offers an illuminating account of the various schools of thought, from the Pre-Socratics to the Epicureans. He examines the development of logic and reason, ancient ideas about physics ("how things happen"), metaphysics and ethics, and the earliest thinking about the soul and god.
Vividly written, but serious and deep enough to offer a genuine understanding of the great philosophers, Kenny's lucid and stimulating history will become the definitive work for anyone interested in the people and ideas that shaped the course of Western thought.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This genial and highly accessible book...presents and analyses with exemplary clarity the most important ideas and arguments ancient philosophers contributed to the main fields of philosophical inquiry.... The range, beauty, and often the unexpectedness of the illustrations are one of the triumphs of the volume." —Malcolm Schofield, London Review of Books

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198752721
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/08/2007
Series:
New History of Western Philosophy Series
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,129,474
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 6.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Sir Anthony Kenny is one of Britain's most distinguished academic figures. He has been Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Master of Balliol College, Chairman of the Board of the British Library, and President of the British Academy. He has published more than forty books on philosophy and history.

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Ancient Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 1 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had been looking for an introductory survey of philosophy that would both bring a sense of chronological continuity as well as a compreshensible overview. I found it in this book that provides two approaches to understanding philosophy. I purchased all four volumes for completeness. I can't imagine a better approach to the study of philosophy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I’m a layman when it comes to philosophy and I have begun to read subjects on the history of philosophy as of the new. This was the first book I picked up on my journey to better understand philosophy and have read it twice so I believe my review is legitimate enough to guide new readers. An important thing I must mention is that in the introduction Kenny points out that this book is mainly intended for junior and senior level philosophy students at college but it has also been written in a prose for laymen like me to enjoy but I believe that statement should be taken with a grain of salt. While the first two chapters are eloquently written and apprehensible, things really start to get complex in various degrees in the next remaining chapters. Chapter 3’s initial treatment on the topic of Logic is graspable and easy to understand but the topics start to really hazy and recondite till the middle of the chapter, especially the section on modal logic is mind-numbingly and ambiguously written. While I understand that these aren’t easy topics even for philosophers but Kenny acting as a medium and a translator does not pave this difficult road. His prose at times becomes abstruse, especially at sensitive areas where knowledge of previous concepts are vital to further understand the topics presented but since even the past topics are presented in an opaque manner the reader ends up dumb, dazed and confused. I believe he fixates on technical topics a bit too much and while his ambition for clarity is laudable, it is eventually futile because his prose is difficult. Lots of information is crammed into each line and you really need to pay attention to grasp certain topics; I had fixated on 10 pages for 2 hours once! Even after this much of rereading and mentally compartmentalizing the facts I still ended up understanding 60% of this chapter. The remaining chapters are still filled with more complexity and Kenny’s difficult methodology. Other difficult chapters are chapter 4’s take on epistemology, chapter 5’s physics and chapter 6’s metaphysics which is the most difficult chapter in the book. The most fluid and enjoyable parts of the book consist of only chapters 1 & 2. Chapters 7, 8, 9 are intermediate and pretty graspable but may sometime befuddle you. I’m guessing that students on philosophy will have an easier time understanding the book but laymen, I think not. I would not recommend this book for anyone wanting to understand heads or tails out of philosophy for the first time! I recommend two great books for that purpose though, Will Durant’s History of Philosophy and Frederick Copplestone’s A History of Philosophy. Although Copplestone’s book is extremely voluminous it is easier to understand and something that I’m currently reading. Final Verdict: Don’t get this book if you are new to the subject of philosophy!