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Greek Philosophy: Thales to Aristotle
     

Greek Philosophy: Thales to Aristotle

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by Reginald E. Allen
 

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Widely praised for its accessibility and its concentration on the metaphysical issues that are most central to the history of Greek philosophy, Greek Phiosophy: Thales to Aristotle offers a valuable introduction to the works of the Presocratics, Plato, and Aristotle.

For the Third Edition, Professor Allen has provided new translations of Socrates' speech in

Overview

Widely praised for its accessibility and its concentration on the metaphysical issues that are most central to the history of Greek philosophy, Greek Phiosophy: Thales to Aristotle offers a valuable introduction to the works of the Presocratics, Plato, and Aristotle.

For the Third Edition, Professor Allen has provided new translations of Socrates' speech in the Symposium and of the first five chapters of Aristotle's Categories, as well as new selections bearing on Aristotle's Theory of Infinity, Continuity, and Discreteness. The book also contains a general introduction which sets forth Professor Allen's distinctive and now widely accepted interpretation of the development of Greek philosophy and science, along with selective bibliography, and lists of suggested readings.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780029006603
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
04/28/1985
Series:
Readings in the History of Philosophy Series
Edition description:
2nd ed., rev. and expanded
Pages:
432

Read an Excerpt

Greek Philosophy

Thales to Aristotle
By Reginald E. Allen

Free Press

Copyright © 1991 Reginald E. Allen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0029004950

Chapter I

THE SOURCES

No work of the Presocratics has come down in its entirety. We possess fragments preserved by later authors, and testimony. The major sources are as follows:

A. Philosophers

(i) Plato gives useful information about his predecessors. Since he himself was not a historian of philosophy, his remarks must be treated with caution.

(ii) Aristotle surveyed his predecessors' testimony on the philosophical problems with which he himself was concerned. The Presocratics are thus made parties to his argument, not left to speak for themselves, and this often introduces a cast into his interpretation. Nevertheless, he was not without a sense of history, and his work is, and will remain a major source of knowledge.

(iii) The Stoics' method of interpretation was syncretistic: they undertook to show that their predecessors agreed with Stoic doctrine, and with each other.

(iv) Sceptics, such as Sextus Empiricus, were concerned to exhibit the contradictions of earlier philosophy, but preserved valuable fragments.

(v) The Neo-Platonists, especially Proclus, Alexander, and Simplicius, commented on Plato and Aristotle; with the library of the Academy at their disposal, they too preservedmany fragments.

B. The Doxographical Tradition

Theophrastus, Aristotle's successor in the Lyceum, continued the Peripatetic interest in history. As part of the encyclopedia of knowledge projected by the school, Theophrastus wrote On the Opinions of the Physical Philosophers, parts of which have come down to us. He consulted the original texts of the Presocratics, but his historical judgment was much influenced by Aristotle.

Theophrastus' work became the standard authority in the ancient world. The doxographers are those who derive their material, directly or indirectly, from the Opinions (doxai). The main sources in the doxographical tradition are Diogenes Laertius (probably third century A.D.), Plutarch (first-second century A.D.), and John Stobeaus (fifth century A.D.).

Copyright © 1966, 1985, 1991 by Reginald E. Allen

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Excerpted from Greek Philosophy by Reginald E. Allen Copyright © 1991 by Reginald E. Allen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

Reginald E. Allen is professor of classics and philosophy at Northwestern University. He is the author of Plato's Parmenides: Translation and Analysis, Socrates and Legal Obligation, and Plato's Symposium.

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