The Greek Philosophers from Thales to Aristotle

The Greek Philosophers from Thales to Aristotle

W. K. C. Guthrie

Language: English

Pages: 156

ISBN: 0415522285

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

With an new foreword by James Warren

Long renowned as one of the clearest and best introductions to ancient Greek philosophy for non-specialists, W.K.C Guthrie’s The Greek Philosophers offers us a brilliant insight into the hidden foundations of Greek philosophy – foundations that underpin Western thought today.

Guthrie explores the great age of Greek Philosophy – from Thales to Aristotle – whilst combining comprehensiveness with brevity. He unpacks the ideas and arguments of Plato and Aristotle in the light of their predecessors rather than their successors and describes the characteristic features of the Greek way of thinking, emphasising what he calls the ‘cultural soil’ of their ideas. He also highlights the achievements of thinkers such as Pythagoras, who in contemporary accounts of Greek philosophy are frequently overlooked.

Combining philosophical insight and historical sensitivity, The Greek Philosophers offers newcomers a brilliant introduction to the greatest thinkers in ancient Greek philosophy and the very origins of Western thought.

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opposite qualities became the corner-stone of Greek medicine, which started in a Pythagorean atmosphere with the work of Alcmaeon of Croton. Pythagorean notions have had such a long history in philosophy and literature that other illustrations will easily suggest themselves. I cannot for example go into the doctrine of the harmony of the spheres, against whose appealing but fragile beauty the prosaic mind of Aristotle directed some of its heaviest logical batteries. But at least we have seen

terrible war which was to lead to her downfall thirty years later, and soon after its outbreak suffered all the horrors of the plague. If disinterested scientific inquiry demands, as Aristotle rightly said, at least a minimum of leisure and comfortable material circumstances, then Athens was no longer the place in which it was easy, but rather a city where the problems of human life and conduct were obtruding themselves more and more. Moreover, Athens was a democracy, a democracy small enough to

circumstances of his time, had forced on his attention, and which he was doing his best to solve. We know now that the word ‘Virtue’ attaches false associations to the Greek arete, which meant primarily efficiency at a particular task. We have also seen that the opponents against whom Socrates’s teaching was aimed claimed two things: (a) that they themselves could teach or impart arete, (b) that knowledge, at least knowledge which could be shared, was a chimera. There was no such thing. By

for its own sake. This defence Plato is anxious to provide, considering only the nature of justice itself, and showing it to be such that the just man must be immediately happy because he is just and virtuous. The question of his reputation, and of what rewards or punishments await him in the future, must be set aside as irrelevant. He begins by repeating the point that everything has its proper ergon. Examples taken are tools, eyes, and ears. Therefore everything has its proper arete, defined

renounced by Aristotle, 116, 118f., 121, 139, 140 Immortality, in Aristotle, 135f.; in Plato, 88, 91; in Pythagoreanism, 33ff. Impiety, prosecutions for: Anaxagoras 50f.; Aristotle 116; Socrates 72f. Induction, 71 Ionians, 19, 22ff.; contrasted with Pythagoreans, 37; with Heraclitus, 42; with Parmenides, 45 Jowett’s Plato, 5 Justice (see also Dike), 102f., 105; cosmic, 41 Kepler, 127 Kinesis, Aristotle’s conception of, 128f.; in Plato, 109 Knowledge, theory of, 16; as

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