On Ancient Philosophy (Wadsworth Philosophical Topics)

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9780534595722: On Ancient Philosophy (Wadsworth Philosophical Topics)
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ON ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY examines ancient Greek thought from the world views of Homer and Hesiod through the developments of and challenges to rational inquiry in the Presocratics to the multi-layered dynamic approaches to inquiry and criticism in the dialogues of Plato and the writings of Aristotle to the fading echoes of this inquiry in the post-Aristotelian Hellenistic schools. The discussion of the Presocratics is given the same amount of space and detail as those on Plato and Aristotle. This book provides readers with the philosophical and cultural background in order to better appreciate and evaluate the philosophical contributions of these thinkers. The roles of rhetoric, religion, war, politics and the study of nature as the impetus to inquiry instead of doctrine are all explained and connected. Many of our textbooks and discussions use the ideas of these ancient thinkers only as points of departure, frequently as examples of misguided reasoning, instead of as our peers facing similar problems and using similar methods to confront them. The intention here is to help readers gain a positive understanding of their ideas and the language they used to express them. It is not meant to be an interpretation of these ideas so much as an approach to help readers understand the issues, create better informed questions and opinions about them, and know where to find further information to pursue their inquiries. A glossary of Greek terms is included to help negotiate the centuries of translations and interpretations that have often obscured as much as revealed the ideas of these vital thinkers.

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About the Author:

John Peterman received his Ph.D. in 1980 from The Pennsylvania State University. He is interested in ancient Greek philosophy (particularly Plato) and American pragmatism (particularly Dewey). He teaches courses in Ancient Philosophy, Plato, Aristotle, Environmental Ethics, and Life Science Ethics. He coordinates the Humanities Honors Program. He is an avid hiker and has successfully completed the New York City Marathon three times (best time: 4:15). Recent publications include ON PLATO (Thomson Wadsworth, 2000).

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Preface. Introduction. 1. Historical and Cultural Background. The Polis, Colonies and Empires. War. Religion. 2. The Presocratics. Ionia. Homer. Hesiod. Thales. Anaximander. Anaximenes. Xenophanes. Heraclitus. Italy. Pythagoras. Parmenides. Zeno and Melissus. Reinterpreting Parmenides: The Return of the Many. Empedocles. Anaxagoras. Leucippus and Democritus. 3. The Sophists. 4. Socrates. 5. Plato. Plato's Biography. Approaching Philosophy through Dialogues. Literary Background. Settings and Structures. Conversations and Dialectic. Stories and Myths. Socratic Irony. Plato's Philosophy. The Practice of Dying and Being Dead. The Life of Ideas. Truth, Sophistry and Rhetoric. 6. Aristotle. Biography and Writings. Logic. Physics and Change. Psyche: The Life Force of the Soul. Animals. Metaphysics. Ethics and Politics. Rhetoric. Poetics. Nicomachean Ethics: A Closer Reading. An Aristotelian Survival Kit. Epilogue: After Aristotle. Stoics. Skeptics. Epicureans. Neoplatonists. Glossary. Index.

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