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1. Lectures on Ancient Philosophy
2. Readings In Ancient Greek Philosophy:
3. Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy
4. The Kybalion: A Study of The Hermetic
5. Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short
6. A History and Philosophy of Sport
7. Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy
8. Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and
9. The Ancient Quarrel Between Poetry
10. Ancient Philosophy: A New History
11. Gnostic Philosophy: From Ancient
12. What Is Ancient Philosophy?
13. A History of Philosophy, Vol.
14. An Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
15. The Shape of Ancient Thought:
16. The Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic
17. Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks
18. Early Greek Philosophy (Penguin
19. A Companion to Ancient Philosophy
20. Voices of Ancient Philosophy:

1. Lectures on Ancient Philosophy
by Manly P. Hall
Paperback: 528 Pages (2005-09-08)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$11.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585424323
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Complete in itself, this volume originated as a commentary and expansion of Manly P. Hall's masterpiece of symbolic philosophy, The Secret Teachings of All Ages.

In Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, Manly P. Hall expands on the philosophical, metaphysical, and cosmological themes introduced in his classic work, The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Hall wrote this volume as a reader's companion to his earlier work, intending it for those wishing to delve more deeply into the esoteric philosophies and ideas that undergird the Secret Teachings. Particular attention is paid to Neoplatonism, ancient Christianity, Rosicrucian and Freemasonic traditions, ancient mysteries, pagan rites and symbols, and Pythagorean mathematics.

First published in 1929-the year after the publication of Hall's magnum opus-this edition includes the author's original subject index, twenty diagrams prepared under his supervision for the volume, and his 1984 preface, which puts the book in context for the contemporary reader. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
I started my path to illumination just a few years ago and this book has helped me stay on the path.One great thing about Manly P. Hall is that his books keep you wanting to learn more.I sometimes become discouraged to keep reading philosophy because I feel that no matter what I do I will never know the truth.Hall has taught me to not to look for the truth but find out what is true to me.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pagan Metaphysics
Since learning from Manly P. Hall and others of the reality of reincarnation, I have often wondered why I chose to incarnate at this time -- i.e., in such a materialist and therefore decadant age. One reason seems to be the writings and wisdom of Manly P. Hall himself. As one reviewer has said, Hall explains the obscure allegories, mythologies, and ideas of the Secret Doctrine, or the Occult Western Tradition, in a way that someone seeking a genuine understanding of the nature of him/herself and of the universe can truly understand. When has humanity ever had such a clear expositor of the sublime truths of philosophy, theology, and science? He has truly been a very modern light in the darkness of human understanding.

I have not read the entire book, but felt compelled, this Sat. morning, to write a brief review. The book is essential reading next to Hall's Secret Teachings (an improper title compared to its original title: "An Encyclopedic Outline of Ancient Rosicrucian, Freemasonic ... etc., etc." -- because it really is more of an encyclopedia, with each chapter being an independent 'window' into the most precious, though recondite, wisdom of the human family).

The first 4 chapters (preceded by the most wonderful preface critiqing modern materialist values) provide the foundation of the book's metaphysical outlook, namely what Hall refers to as "the dot, the line, and the circle" -- representing the (source) God, the angelic beings or lesser gods, and finally the world of form (where humanity is 'trapped'). chapters 2-4 explain each of these in turn.

On a personal note, Chapter 4 -- the Inferior Creation and Its Regent, dealing with the "circle" as the aspect of Self furthest from source (God) -- is my favorite chapter, perhaps of any book, because it perfectly describes life as I have experienced it (more or less, and sadly, as a spiritual being, trapped in form). In any case, the first 4 chapters offers a clear pagan understanding of Deity -- which Hall describes as "a fundamental monotheism manifesting through a complex polytheism" -- and that applies equally to the apparently polytheistic Greeks, as it does to any other ancient culture, as Hall adamantly stresses in this and other of his works.

I cannot do full justice to the book as I have not read it in its entirety but I do know that a solid grasp of chapters 1-4 is essential to an appreciation of occultism, just as it is to an appreciation of the rest of the book. I found chapter 5 (The Annhilation of the Sense of Diversity) to be less inspired, less interesting, than the other chapters and Chapter 10, on Pagan Cosmogony, I have so far found to be somewhat obscure, though I'm still struggling with it. Chapter 7, the Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace, is a scathing attack on Christian theology/morality that seeks, according to Hall (and me), to bring God down to man rather than to bring man up to God. He also accuses Christianity of being an essentially idolatrous relgion because of its literalist interpretation of scripture and religious teaching. It's only when one appreciates parables, mythologies, allegories, etc. as symbolic of higher principles that one opens one's mind sufficiently to gain a true grasp of reality, and, therefore, of Deity.

Chapter 9 on The Cycle of Necessity, is essential reading on the pagan understanding of reincarnation. Hall has touched on this subject in other works ("Reincarnation") but this chapter is a wonderful addition to those. Hall opens the chapter with a "gauntlet" thrown at modern materialist intellectualism in the form of three pressing and perpetually unanswered questions: "Life is the beginning of what? Love is the fulfillment of what? Death is the end of what?" Materialist philosophy has ever been mum on the subject of a response to these questions.

Unfortunately I cannot comment on the rest of the book, as I have not read the rest of the, in total, 20 chapters --but I was too enraptured with the first half of the book not to write a review of what I've read so far.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome Truths
This book is loaded with golden nuggets of truth. If you are searching for answers this is a great book to start with.

5-0 out of 5 stars A test for citizenship in the Divine Commonwealth
I know that this book was written as a supplement to THE SECRET TEACHINGS OF ALL AGES but it seems to me that it is the equal to that masterwork, if not perhaps superior in some ways. I found it to be a well-organized, precise exposition of the Ancient Wisdom from the Neoplatonic viewpoint of the Alexandrian School in particular and the Greek Mysteries in general. Nor do I have any doubt that the Ancient Wisdom of Hall is exactly the Philosophia Perennis of Guenon and Schuon. Of course Hall didn't revise this volume after it was originally written- you cannot "improve" upon the eternal wisdom if it has been carefully and correctly expounded.

When Hall speaks of perfect consciousness it is the same as Schuon's intuitive intellection. Subject and object become one in perfect union. Consciousness is union with Self. Lesser mind is incapable of reaching the state of perfect consciousness. Yet, this lower, rational, materially based mind must be developed to its absolute limit of attainment- so that it may come to know its ultimate limitations- and therefore die. The lower mind must die, must be sacrificed, that the Great Work be accomplished. There is no higher goal. In the secret teachings the mind itself is the Savior-God. Mind, as the Savior-God, must be sacrificed and transcend in order that the worlds of Spirit and Matter might be joined. A being who attains this union within himself, who resides at the apex of the two pyramids, will never quite seem to fit into the conventional material environment known by others.

Once upon a time, when I was still infatuated with lower mind I would have written this book off as unreadable gibberish. Now that I have verified its teachings through my own experience and being I find it to be a gem beyond price.

This is the true Philosophy, the love of Wisdom. The academic discipline that currently goes by the title of "philosophy" is no such thing. It is rather philosophy's obscene ab*rtion...

An excellent introduction to ancient philosophy for the layman. The diagrams at the beginning of each chapter make ancient philosophy very easy to understand. This is an essential companion book to appreciate the Secret Teachings of All Ages. However, Hall challenges the sacred ideas associated with the Christian world view so the books are not for the fainthearted. Both books whet the appetite to delve into the Britannica Great Books of the Western World and a very liberal education. ... Read more

2. Readings In Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales To Aristotle
by S. Marc Cohen
Paperback: 958 Pages (2005-08-01)
list price: US$44.00 -- used & new: US$34.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0872207692
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The rich selection of superbly translated and edited Pre-Socratic fragments and testimonies, dialogues of Plato, and selections from Aristotle that has made "Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy", the pre-eminent anthology for the teaching of ancient Greek philosophy is now even richer: G M A Grube's translation of Plato's "Phaedo" and "Alexander Nehamas", and Paul Woodruff's translation of Plato's "Symposium" are now both included in their entirety. In addition, the third edition features new translations by C D C Reeve of Plato's "Euthyphro", "Apology", and "Crito". ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars great quality, low price
as a textbook for school, this was the best price I could find, and it was in pristine condition, very fast to arrive

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Have For Philosophy Students, and Anybody else interested in the "Celebrities" of Ancient Greek thought.
If your buying this book, its probably because you are enrolled in a philosophy or history class. And though it is used frequently in classrooms, the book doesn't fall into the same traps as other college level texts.

This book features all of Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Categories, Physics, Metaphysics, and Nicomachean Ethics. It also contains Apology (Written by Plato, in which Socrates speaks at his trial), along with writings and quotes from and about less well known Greek philosophers, such as Empedocles and Parmenides. The philosophers are presented by date, starting with the earliest, but they are also categorized by ideas.

One of the best things about this book is that, unlike other college texts, it is not a modern philosopher, or college historian, writing the bulk of the text. You actually hear from the horses mouth. The philosophers, such as Thales, who do not have many surviving words, have quotes from other famous Greek philosophers concerning them (often criticism, but informative criticism) . While at points the writing might seem dense, it is preferable to a third party writing; simply becauseany other person or group, though trying to, cannot capture the essence of what that person is trying to say.Anybody who has taking a philosophy coarse probably knows what I'm talking about; some philosophers have original message has been all but destroyed byprofessors "summery", either by misunderstanding, interjecting their own interpretations, or worse, allowing their own innate prejudices and beliefs to effect how they introduce them. The point is- Its preferable to have the actual philosopher talking for themselves, and this book has plenty of that.

I will say that, if you already own the dialogues and writings in this book, I wouldn't suggest buying it. While the short summaries and historical highpoints are good, they don't offer much that you couldn't find better somewhere else.

Quite simply, this is a comprehensive textbook that will enhance your understandingof Greek philosophy and provide a great starting place for further study.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good choice
I find this book to be invaluable to the philosophy student and any others who may be interested in Ancient philosophical thought in Miletus and Greece. The organization of the book is excellent, and the order in which he supplies the writings is fitting.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the one to buy if you're buying only one
In my reading I frequently come across references to Greek philosophy. When I go to the bookstore, though, I see an entire shelf of books for Plato, and another for Aristotle. Presocratics are separate. How to choose? Fortunately, there is this volume. It is a large collection, filling 890 large pages, from the earliest Greek philosophers to Aristotle. The general breakdown is as follows: 89 pages devoted to the Presocratics and Sophists; 487 devoted to Plato; 277 devoted to Aristotle; 45 pages devoted to suggestions for further reading, concordance and sources for Presocratics, and glossary for Aristotle. The Presocratic selections represent 18 philosophers. Plato selections include the complete Republic and sections of 10 other dialogues. Aristotle selections contain readings from 13 treatises. Informative introductions precede each philosopher, and most individual selections from Plato and Aristotle have their own introductions. Each book of the Repulbic is introduced separately. In addition, footnotes are supplied on various obscure points of history, terminology, and ancient scientific theory. The notes on Timaeus are especially illustrative, giving the reader diagrams of theories. In short, this volume is very user friendly, geared toward the student or non-specialist who wants to know more about this fundamental area of Western culture, and very inclusive. The translations are modern and clear, not some dusted off antiques. A very good choice all around. ... Read more

3. Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy behind the Military Mind
by Nancy Sherman
Paperback: 256 Pages (2007-03-19)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$15.92
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Asin: 019531591X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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While few soldiers may have read the works of Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius, it is undoubtedly true that the ancient philosophy known as Stoicism guides the actions of many in the military.Soldiers and seamen learn early in their training "to suck it up," to endure, to put aside their feelings and to get on with the mission.
Stoic Warriors is the first book to delve deeply into the ancient legacy of this relationship, exploring what the Stoic philosophy actually is, the role it plays in the character of the military (both ancient and modern), and its powerful value as a philosophy of life. Marshalling anecdotes from military history--ranging from ancient Greek wars to World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq--Nancy Sherman illuminates the military mind and uses it as a window on the virtues of the Stoic philosophy, which are far richer and more interesting than our popularized notions. Sherman--a respected philosopher who taught at the US Naval Academy--explores the deep, lasting value that Stoicism can yield, in issues of military leadership and character; in the Stoic conception of anger and its control (does a warrior need anger to go to battle?); and in Stoic thinking about fear and resilience, grief and mourning, and the value of camaraderie and brotherhood. Sherman concludes by recommending a moderate Stoicism, where the task for the individual, both civilian and military, youth and adult, is to temper control with forgiveness, and warrior drive and achievement with humility and humor.
Here then is a perceptive investigation of what makes Stoicism so compelling not only as a guiding principle for the military, but as a philosophy for anyone facing the hardships of life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars It never really comes together
With this book Dr. Sherman has taken on a vitally important and difficult task - an exploration of the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of military mind and culture.In my opinion what is best about this book is the thorough and expert scholarship.What is lacking, perhaps, could be integration.The views of the Stoics are carefully and faithfully represented.Some insightful accounts of military culture and the psychology and behavior of soldiers are provided.Sometimes, it is pointed out, the two match up pretty well.Other times, it is argued, they probably shouldn't match up (even if they do in fact).What I took away from this book was a better understanding of Stoicism as a philosophy, some interesting insights into military life, and a sort of hazy idea of what they have to do with each other.I found this book interesting and informative, but not very compelling.

The Capacity to Govern: A Report to the Club of Rome

Crazy States: A Counterconventional Strategic Problem

This book is strongly recommended for all political leaders. Its big advantage is that the book deals with the "mind", behavior coming second. This is correct because the mind of leaders is what matters and what shapes behavior, while being neglected and also ignored by most books presuming to advise leaders.

The book focuses on issues of character and ethics in both a profound and practical way, thus being both enlightening and educational.

Based on close readings of some of the main stoic thinkers in Rome who had political experience makes the book all the more relevant to present political leaders, while demonstrating that study of some of the classics is more relevant to real contemporary issues than many "current affairs" books.

The one chapter with which I partly disagree is the last one proposing respect of enemies as human beings. This is true when "ordinary" enemies are concerned. But the author fails to address the real problem how to cope with totally evil actors, such as Nazi genocide managers and fanatics on the way to mass killings. Had the author taken up that issue than the last chapter would be deeper and more realistic.

Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew Univesity of Jerusalem

3-0 out of 5 stars Good topic, solid anecdotes, great concept, moderately executed
Great concept, as I was lured to this book while buying some Seneca and a past history of military study, but comes up a bit short on readability. Though I want to like the anecdotal pieces about Stockdale and others, for instance, the academic sections don't mesh well with the military stories and analogies.

2-0 out of 5 stars Stoic Warriors is not Stoic
This book is interesting, and far more readable than most books on philosophy. But, for those who have actually studied Stoic philosophy, there is a problem. Thatproblem is that the book does not do a very good job of presenting the teaching of Stoicism, and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the author does not much like Stoicism.

A major problem is that the author, Nancy Sherman, is an Aristotelian, and clearly has little sympathy for, or understanding of, Stoic philosophy. For instance, she many times criticizes Stoic teaching on emotions, such as anger, as impossible to apply to the problems of military personal. But she neglects to mention that the Stoics never claimed that Stoic philosophy was a simple pill that could quickly solve problems without the time necessary for real change, and a re-evaluation of values.

It seems, in fact, that Ms Sherman may not have taken enough time to understand Stoic philosophy in depth.

3-0 out of 5 stars An academic attempts to comprehend the soldier's nature
Being fair to Professor Sherman is important in the context of reading and reviewing this exercise in academic philsophical thought. One has to rid themself of the image of a smug academic, wrapped in the iron belief of her own infinite knowledge, holding forth on a subject she can only describe as an outsider.

Thus, "Stoic Warriors" must be viewed, I believe, in the same vein as a treatise on brain surgery I might write should be viewed: the account of an observer with no actual experience and subject to errors of perception. Think the Lilliputians as they attempt to comprehend Gulliver.

Sherman somehow came to occupy the Distinguished Chair in Ethics at the United States Naval Academy for two years. Her attempt is to view the modern American soldier in light of Stoic philosophy. It would have helped immensely if Prof. Sherman had left all the leftist views common to academia at the door when she began her quest.

As she puts it, "so much of [her] understanding of the military has come from storytelling of military men and women." And those stories may have been true or not. More importantly, Sherman's focus might have been sharper on any story that reflected badly on the military or current administration. While Sherman is not as blunt as some othe academics, her very basic contempt for military force as an instrument of natioynal policy is evident. This makes reading her dissertation , well, an academic exercise, with little inherent value. But it must be said that Prof. Sherman does try. Unfortunately, in my eyes, she is far, far away fros understanding the Stoicism she attempts to apply. You cannot be one of the "touchy-feely" generation and understand Stoicism. Marcus Aurelius, I think, would have doubled over in laughter at this attempt.

Where convenient to her point, Sherman simply tosses aside Stoic doctrine. For example, in her chapter "Permission To Grieve," Sherman can't abide the idea of a soldier not feeling deep grief at the loss of comrades, so she simply dismisses her conflict with the ancient Stoics by dismissing even a watered down doctrine as demanding too much control of us. I guess philosophy is like the fabled Chinese restaurants of old: pick one from Column A, one from Column B. If the very words of Marcus Aurelius and Cicero don't support your allegedly expert point of view, just tell the original Stoics to take a hike. Academia: you simply gotta love it.

Her hostility to the conflict in Iraq does not lend credibility to her argument. One of her late chapters concerns the so-called scandal at Abu-Gharib. You can practically see her salivating at the prospect of administration officials being hauled away in chains. Unfortunately her description of events turns out to be markedly different than what appears to have actually occurred, but if you'll recall, The New York Times ran story after story about the Ugly Americans at Abu-Gharib without restraining themselves. Sherman obviously consumed such stories. She repeats the canard that now Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "approved" the use of torture. She also falls for the common misapprehension of the left that the Geneva Conventions capture all combatants in a conflict of any kind. She is mistaken on this.

As I said, Sherman makes an earnest effort to apply the bits and pieces of Stoic philosophy to the American military. She fails, but her attempt is not uninteresting nor entirely without merit. Despite all of her failings, she has produced a work of interest to the military historian, but it is not because she reaches her intended objective: rather it is because she does include a number of interesting stories which she then interprets to conform to her views.


... Read more

4. The Kybalion: A Study of The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece
by The Three Initiates
Paperback: 120 Pages (2007-10-15)
list price: US$7.25 -- used & new: US$6.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1434812804
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This little book will tell you all you ever wanted to know about the "Ancient Wisdom". It is rather easy reading for a receptive and open mind. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is the essence of Hermes teachings
I don't care if The Kybalion was authored by William Walker Atkinson, either alone or with others OR it was Harriet Case (Paul Foster Case's wife at the time), Ann Davies (who succeeded Paul Foster Case as head of the B.O.T.A.), Mabel Collins (a prominent Theosophical writer), Claude Bragdon (an architect, Theosophist, and writer on "mystic geometry"), and Claude Alexander (a well-known stage magician, mentalist, proponent of crystal gazing. This is a great book in content and in style of writing. ... Read more

5. Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Julia Annas
Paperback: 144 Pages (2001-01-18)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$6.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0192853570
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The tradition of ancient philosophy is a long, rich and varied one, in which the notes of discussion and argument constantly resound. This book introduces ancient debates, engaging us with the ancient developments of their themes. Moving away from the presentation of ancient philosophy as a succession of great thinkers, the book gives readers a sense of the freshness and liveliness of ancient philosophy, and of its wide variety of themes and styles. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Annas gets right to the central questions of ancient philosophers
How should you introduce a country? With an abstract map of its terrain? Or would it be better to show a beautiful picture (or several) to stand for the whole--say the Taj Majal for India--something to lure and enchant the would-be traveler?

Julia Annas chooses the latter strategy. Her introduction leads the reader right to the heart of some of the most important questions of early philosophy: the dichotomy between passion and reason; the nature of the self; whether or not there is a goal to life; what logic is and why it is desirable and necessary; whether knowing is possible; the ways in which we explore the nature and pattern of the universe through science.

Annas' strength is her ability to express the fundamental questions of early philosophy with great clarity and to follow-up with very succinct descriptions of how they were treated by Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and a range of other early philosophers.

Her treatment of The Republic (Penguin Classics) is especially strong. She shows us how from Jowett onwards it came te be regarded primarily as a political work. However, she shows that the work takes up a much broader question, the relation between virtue and happines. Plato sketches the structure of an ideal society as a model for the structure of the soul. Annas provides a good, quick overview of the work itself while demonstrating the ways in which interpretations have varied during different historical periods.

Readers looking for a broader survey might choose Frederick Copleston's History of Philosophy, Volume 1 (History of Philosophy). Those looking for an in-depth view showing how the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers elevated DOING philosophy (rather than studying it as an academic subject) specifically for the purpose of achieving happiness in this life should see Pierre Hadot's very interesting treatment What Is Ancient Philosophy?.

Even the non-beginner will find a very clear and interesting treatment of the major philosophic questions of the ancients in this compact 100-page book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Engaging
I found this intro to be quite enjoyable, but it's left me with the impression that the actual ideas of the ancient philosophers are of little merit (excepting the concept of virtue, which Annas is clearly taken by). But surely an intro should encourage a non-specialist reader that a subject has more than academic interest?

Also, the book badly needs editing, not to say proof-reading.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing
The use of the words 'she' and 'herself' as well as the mockery of the portrayal of Vice as a 'floozy' really sickened me.It made me realize I myself and several other people I know could have written a better book on the subject.Did it feel good to type in 'herself' and 'she' as if to suggest no male will read this book and if they did they were excluded?Can we just get past this feminist finger pointing?This is 2006.There is no doubt the author could have used the pronouns 'his and herself' or something more objective.It just leaves one to ask....why didn't she?

4-0 out of 5 stars Not a Quick Reference Guide, but an Outstanding Eye-Opener
General Review of Book Series:I have to admit it: I am a fan of these little books. It's my dirty little secret. These short introductions provide one with a pocketsize, portable introduction to a wide variety of topics. With a light tone and a surface skim of the issues, these little guides provide one with the general overview one might expect in a small survey course. Naturally, there are downsides. Are these guides comprehensive? Heavens no! Do they take time to dig deeply into the issues? Not generally. But are they a good resource to use if you want to get your feet wet before you dive in? Yes. When used properly, these little guidebooks can allow what might start out as a casual curiosity to develop into a more in-depth research project. In fact, all of these introductions provide references and suggestions for further reading.

Julia Annas's _A Very Short Introduction to Ancient Philosophy_ is a very lively book that immerses the reader into the world of ancient philosophy without assuming any prior knowledge of the topic.Annas throws aside the standard "march through history" account of these thinkers and chooses instead to engage the reader with the problems and concerns these ancient thinkers puzzled over.Many readers have faulted her for this decision for she does not provide a quick & easy reference to names and ideas.But her point is that such a reference guide is, in many ways, impossible to construct.Therefore, we should be aware of how we "create" these thinkers according to our own interests and bias.

Chapter One concerns the battle between reason and emotion in our souls, a discussion that leads right into her treatment of Plato's _Republic_.What is interesting about Annas's account of the _Republic_ is that she chooses to focus upon the ways in which Plato's work has been received by generations of scholars instead of purely focusing on the philosophical merit of the work.While I would have liked a bit more philosophy in this chapter, her analysis helps to reveal the ways in which our understanding of the _Republic_ is influenced (and perhaps even dictated) by our own philosophical interests.Thus, perhaps Annas does not provide a thorough philosophical examination of the _Republic_ because her own interpretation would be hampered by such influence.However, I also suspect that, being a short introduction, there was simply no time to get too heavily involved in it.

Annas's remaining sections are devoted to eudaimonism and virtue, reason and scepticism, and logic and reality.It is the final chapter, however, that I found particularly interesting, perhaps because it deals a bit more with chronology than Annas has chosen to use in the rest of the book.In this chapter, Annas tries to provide some grounds for grouping "ancient philosophy" as a whole, and discusses the ways that thinkers reacted to one another, the dividing influence of Plato, and the status of ancient philosophy after Plato and Aristotle.In general, I enjoy chronological accounts of these thinkers, but Annas does a wonderful job keeping me interested and engaging these thinkers in a slightly different way than I am accustomed to.I would recommend this introduction to anyone thinking of exploring ancient philosophy further.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent little book
I am a beginning student of philosophy, and found Professor Annas' book to be extremely helpful.Not only does she provide a sophisticated introduction to ancient Greek thought, she gives the best definition of philosophy I have yet come across:the search for truth by reasoned argument.These are two major accomplishments for a very small book.

She manages to cover the pre-Socrates, Socrates, Plato, the Sophists, Aristotle, the Stoics, the Skeptics, the Cynics and many others. She covers Plato and Aristotle in surprising depth.Her comments on the others are more brief, but they are to the point and meaningful.She demonstrates very clearly the relevence of ancient Greek thought to the problems we face in our own time.

She uses each chapter to introduce and discuss a major philosophical topic:Ancient theories of personality are exemplified by the various treatments of the Medea legend, she gives an account of the evolution of the interpretations of Plato's Republic, of what constitutes a happy life and how to achieve it, what is knowledge and how do we think of it, and the beginnings of logical reasoning and theories of reality.The Greeks didn't make these distinctions, but there you have most of the branches of modern philosophy:theory of personality, ethics, epistimology, metaphysics, and logic.Prof. Annas' book is much more sophisticated than it at first appears.

I have only one complaint:Like many feminists, she takes the English language convention that the impersonal third-person pronoun is masculine or neuter, ("he, him" or "one") never feminine ("she, her"), personally, and at the oddest momentss plonks down a "she" where a "he" or "one" would normally be expected.This is of course a common device in feminist writing, designed to make a statement about the oppressiveness of Western society in general and the English language in particular.This detracts from her otherwise exemplary prose style.Fortunately, she avoids feminist rhetoric otherwise, even in her discussion of Medea.

The single best thing about this book is that it makes one want to read more.

... Read more

6. A History and Philosophy of Sport and Physical Education: From Ancient Civilizations to the Modern World
by Robert Mechikoff
Paperback: 480 Pages (2009-01-21)
-- used & new: US$81.24
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Asin: 0073376493
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This engaging and informative text will hold the attention of students and scholars as they take a journey through time to understand the role that history and philosophy have played in shaping the course of sport and physical education in Western and selected non-Western civilizations. From Mesoamerica and Ancient Greece to the 2008 Olympic Games, the book touches on religion, politics, social movements, and individuals as they contributed to the development of sport and physical education. An extensive array of pedagogical tools--including timelines, comprehensive lists of chapter objectives, suggested websites, and discussion questions--aids the learning experience. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Yep!
The description for this item was very accurate adn honest. There was minor wear on the corners, but still very useable. Well worth it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fine book with a notable exception
As an overview of the philosophy of sport from Egypt and Ancient Greece to the present time, this is a fine volume. But it is breathtaking that in a review of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich the author saw fit to recall "Notable" performances in track and field events, gymnastics, swimming and more and yet managed to leave out the most notable and historic contest of all: the gold medal basketball game between Russia and the United States. This was the United States' first "loss," since basketball's inclusion in 1936, though they were swindled out of their gold after officials put time back on the clock on three consecutive occasions.

In a spirit of solidarity and righteous indignation the American team refused to accept their silver medals.

How can this episode--which is arguably the greatest instance of official bias
in sports history--not be recognized in an objective history of this sort?

Ken Shouler ... Read more

7. Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy (Studies in Continental Thought)
by Martin Heidegger, Richard Rojcewicz
Hardcover: 272 Pages (2007-10-22)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$30.04
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Asin: 0253349656
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy presents a lecture course given by Martin Heidegger in 1926 at the University of Marburg. First published in German as volume 22 of the collected works, the book provides Heidegger's most systematic history of Ancient philosophy beginning with Thales and ending with Aristotle. In this lecture, which coincides with the completion of his most important work, Being and Time, Heidegger is working out a way to sharply differentiate between beings and Being. Richard Rojcewicz's clear and accurate translation offers English-speaking readers valuable insight into Heidegger's views on Ancient thought and concepts such as principle, cause, nature, unity, multiplicity, Logos, truth, science, soul, category, and motion. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars out of print--available as public download
careful of the money you spend--this is now free as a .pdf.At least as of this writing. ... Read more

8. Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic: Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition
by Peter Kingsley
Paperback: 432 Pages (1997-02-13)
list price: US$70.00 -- used & new: US$49.47
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Asin: 0198150814
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This is the first book to analyze systematically crucial aspects of ancient Greek philosophy in their original context of mystery, religion, and magic. The author brings to light recently uncovered evidence about ancient Pythagoreanism and its influence on Plato, and reconstructs the fascinating esoteric transmission of Pythagorean ideas from the Greek West down to the alchemists and magicians of Egypt, and from there into the world of Islam. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars philological phenomenology
This book is important for several reasons. One of them is that Kingsley attempts to shake the ancient Greek scholarship by suggesting that Empedocles' Fragments need to be interpreted through language of thepreclassical(~500 BC; ie, Empedocles') rather than classical (ie, Pericles) period. Here Kingsley is on firm ground, displaying an impressive familiarity with the Illiad and other preclassical literature. Bringing philology back on the map he continues the basic approach by Nietzsche and Heidegger.

More importantly, PK brings philosophical inquiry into the domain of phenomenology of religion. if we wish to understand the presocratics we need primarily to understand their state of consciousness and their relationship to the spiritual sphere. While most classical scholars would argue that one canachieve such an understanding through decipheringthe language, literature, history, art and economy of a society, the alternative view (championed by PK) is thatattempts to explain Empedocles' philosophy in terms of ordinary social, political, etc. circumstance inevitably miss something that is not reducible to facts alone. It misses its essence, a foundation of Beingness where philosophy reflects the nature of human experience and its capacity to interact with the 'transpersonal' or numinous. A capacity that by no means is uniquely Greek.

This is why classical scholarship addressing ancient (Greek, Egyptian, Mesopotamian etc) consciousness should not be entrusted to 'ordinary' scholarly nitpickers alone. The historian W. Brede once said: "When religion is the subject of our work, we grow religiously." Peter Kingsley is that rare scholar (an ex-Warburg fellow, no less) who appears to have been sucked into the ancient Pythagorean texts and magical practices they describe and emerged out of his studies a changed man.

This book is a first step describing PKs beliefs about an inner meaning of Pythagoreanism (elegantly discussed in later books such as Reality) ...

The book starts with a technical reinterpretation of the theory of 4 Elements ("the 4 Roots")for which Empedocles is mainly known; then continues with a critical evaluation of classical views of Empedocles; PK claims that Aristotle purposefully distorted E.s ideas whereas Plato actually appropriated many Pythagorean concepts following his visits toPyth. communities in Southern Italy and Sicily. Appropriated and then pretended they were his own. To prove this, PK performs a detailed textual analysis of Phaedo.

Egypt and ancient Greece shared a number of intellectual, philosophical and religious practices, from mathematics to the mysteries of death & rebirth (practiced in Eleusinian rituals) and the shamanic descent into the Underworld (seen in Orphic mysteries, Hermetic practices and 'funerary inscriptions' such as the Pyramid texts). Both Plato and Pythagoras spent a long time in Egypt and Empedocles, a direct heir of Pythagoras, would have been intimately aware of Egyptian religious beliefs. The circle was completed when Empedoclean texts returned to the Egyptian desert through Greek (gnostic, hermetic) communities living in the Egyptian desert. PK showsthat certain Sufi texts from Egypt and even alchemical texts from the Middle Ages directly follow E.s writings and beliefs.

There is a remarkable discussion of Pythagorean magic, initiatory rites, practice of 'incubation' and Orphic mysteries. The book is worth buying just for that third part.

"...I am a lover of learning, and trees and open country won't teach me anything, whereas men in the town do.", sez Socrates in Phaedrus, one of the most eloquent and lyrical dialogues by Plato. Kingsley's life work seems to be to show that the course our civilization took after Plato was in a sense a deviation, both from the Earth, the archetypal forces inhabiting it, and our own deepest nature. He argues a good case in thiscourageous work.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Tale
This is one of the best books I've ever read.I'm a Classics professor, and it's one of the best Classics books I've ever read, and it's more than that; it goes beyond the trends in current scholarship (which always operates in fads) to get at what the ancient Greeks were all about and why we can still learn from them.Written with real verve, a true eye-opener.It also transcends the silly "East vs. West" thinking that still dominates today.Read Kingsley.He does nothing less than re-direct our attention and thinking.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of few deserving 5 stars
Peter Kingsley's ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY, MYSTERY, AND MAGIC should be read by all students of western philosophy, as well as by anyone interested in thought and scholarship. Here is a work that shines a light into ancient Greek thought, and calls into question the motives and standards of ancient - and unfortunately modern - scholarship.

By itself, this makes the book worthy of wide attention. But what is more is that Kingsley brings philosophy back to its roots, helping enormously in the unpopular effort to shake us out of our current philosophical stupor and fascination with pointless 'problems.'

The book is written in a formal, academic style, unlike Kinglsey's later work. Those unfamiliar with this kind of writing may be put off (as is evidenced by some of the reviews here) by such 'intrusions' as foot and endnotes, and by the careful effort Kingsley has given to covering all the bases in order to create the most sound argument possible. Nevertheless, the book is not difficult to read by any means, especially when compared to most western philosophy today. Far from being evidence of Kingsley's wish to be pompous, or to impress colleagues, this style of writing is simply demanded by serious scholars, who were certainly among the primary targets of this book. One will not even be read by one's colleagues without writing in this established way. Had he not used this style, Kingsley would not have been taken seriously, and would have disappeared into the ranks of unpublished writers. That he was taken seriously by the elite of academia is seen by some of the reviews ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY received from them:

"A masterpiece, gripping, urgent and important: a unique pioneering work."

"The thesis is argued with immense learning ... courageous, original."
THE TIMES (London)

"A remarkable achievement: challenging, learned and at the same time enthralling to read."

"Bold and extremely significant ... Kingsley's book may well be the most important book about Presocratic philosophy in years, and it is certainly one of the most exciting, challenging, and stimulating."

"Every scholar dreams of writing a truly original book, but in reality hardly anyone ever does. A truly original book, one that can transform a whole discipline, appears at the most once in a generation. In the field of ancient philosophy, Peter Kingsley's Ancient Philosophy, Mystery and Magic is such a book."
PROF. A. A. LONG, University of California at Berkeley

My guess as to why Kinglsey wrote in the standard academic style before switching to an informal one is that he wanted to establish himself as someone who was not a crackpot, before delving into the territory that he has with his second and third books. No respected scholar with a job to keep would dare to say what Kingsley has said in these later works. The sad fact is that if he had held a distinguished position in one of the top ten universities of the world, he would have been out on the street in no time had he published IN THE DARK PLACES OF WISDOM or REALITY, and that just goes to show what a sad state academia - higher `learning' - is in.

Read this book first, then read the others. If you have an open mind, and have the creative ability to try on a new set of mental clothing, you'll be rewarded.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting & worthwhile, but very academic
I was led to this book by John Opsopaus' superb "Pythagorean Tarot," wherein he mentions that Kingsley demonstrated that Empedocles was a shaman ("iatromantis," that is).Everything said about this book so far is true:It *is* an interesting and valuable read;it *is* highly technical; and Kingsley definitely takes on every other classical scholar in clearing the air, removing historical debris and cultural bias, and establishing a new standard of personal involvement in classical scholarship.My take is that one can get the gist of his conclusions in chapters 15 & 19 (and perhaps 20 & 22), without wading through all the scholarly minutae.This groundwork was probably necessary to remove the blinders from our collective eyes imposed by an earlier generation of Greek scholars overly wowed by science and strangely detached from personal experience.In the end, I look forward to reading Kingsley's "Dark Places of Wisdom."

4-0 out of 5 stars Kingsley's first and best
This was Kingsley's first book, written before he went a little mad and started telling stories about how shamanism is actually the root of Greek and therefore Western culture (the last I checked, Tibetan and Native American shamans didn't know too much about, oh, geometry or logic or mathematics or science or any of that silly stuff Kingsley seems to think is a relatively trivial aspect of Western civilization). If the Greeks stole their culture from anywhere, and I am not sure they did, it was Egypt; and if the Egyptians stole it, it was probably from Northern Europe (there are stones representing the "Platonic" solids from Scotland, older by far than the pyramids, as is Stonehenge; and check out Jurgen Spanuth for the history of the invasion of Greece from the North that started the first Greek dark age).
In retrospect this is his best book; certainly the only one in which he actually tries to make a case for what he writes. The later books are little more than fantasy novels aimed at new agers, and I am sure therefore far more popular than this one. ... Read more

9. The Ancient Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy
by Thomas Gould
 Hardcover: 352 Pages (1991-01)
list price: US$49.50 -- used & new: US$89.99
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Asin: 0691073759
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10. Ancient Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy Volume 1
by Anthony Kenny
Paperback: 368 Pages (2007-01-08)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.14
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Asin: 0198752725
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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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 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. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Intro do Ancient Philosophy
Tough going in the beginning as the author is trying to introduce us to all the philosophical concepts.
I had to resort to using Wikipedia and google to get more color on some of the concepts introduced.
All in all it was a good read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Solid
`Ancient Philosophy' is the first of four volumes in Anthony Kenny's `A New History of Western Philosophy' recently published by Oxford University Press.For those unfamiliar with the author, Kenny is a leading contemporary scholar that has previously written noteworthy texts on Aquinas, Descartes, and Wittgenstein amongst others. While Kenny's writing and scholarship is of a high standard I have mixed feelings about the text.

One the one hand, it is the best single-author overview of Western philosophy of which I am familiar, more readable than Copleston and more evenhanded than Russell.Undertaking a history of Western philosophy is a daunting task.Such a vast subject can be approached chronologically, by subject matter or in a mixed manner.Kenny takes the latter mixed approach, providing a chronological survey of the period in the early part of the book then delving into specific subject areas in latter portions.

On the other hand, I am uncertain if it will find a ready audience.Those with sufficient background to follow the discussion may pass on the book, while those unacquainted with ancient philosophy will likely find much of text rather arcane and opaque.Additionally, from a physical perspective the paper is glossy, giving the text a bit of a `fluffy' feel as well as making it difficult to read it certain lightening conditions (reflection).

Overall, an ambitious undertaking by an excellent philosopher.Despite my mixed feelings, I will likely pick up the subsequent volumes.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent and Concise Survey
Sir Anthony Kenny's four-volume History of Western Philosophy begins at the traditional place: in Ancient Greece.Clearly and concisely, he sketches the contributions of Thales of Miletus, Parmenides, Anaximader, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and -- in Rome -- Cicero and Augustine (and many more).For these 110 pages alone, the book is worth picking up used.

Thereafter Kenny does a thematic treatment that is far more involved, technical and tangential.His intention seems to be to put the voices of the individual philosophers and schools of philosophy in dialogue with one another but he does not always keep the lines clear of who is arguing what and when.Is Kenny rebutting Aristotle himself or paraphrasing an ancient rebuttal of an Aristotelian argument?

The thematic chapters will still be of use to people looking for summations of individual thematic topics, but it is far too 'inside baseball' for the casual reader.The themes are: Logic, Epistemology, Physics, Metaphysics, Soul and Mind, Ethics, God.

Though it is a History of Western Philosophy, it would've been nice to see signposts that relate different ideas to the wider non-western world.Kenny uses a number of British-isms and British metaphors that an editor could've easily replaced with more universal language.The book has excellent pictorial illustrations of the philosophers from some more-obscure art library sources.I have to credit this ambitious project: while it is not the definitive history of ancient western philosophy, it must certainly be the most comprehensive and up-to-date oneavailable.Four stars.

I look forward to reading the other books in the series:

Medieval Philosophy (A New History of Western Philosophy, Vol. 2)
The Rise of Modern Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy Volume 3 (New History of Western Philosophy)
Philosophy in the Modern World: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 4 (New History of Western Philosophy)

3-0 out of 5 stars Imperfect Introduction
I'm not sure whether beginners will enjoy or get very much from this survey of ancient philosophy.There's no doubt that the author, Anthony Kenny, writes clearly, knows ancient philosophy, and leavens his text with wit and style.But his talents and good intentions are defeated by the structure of the book.After providing a brief chronological overview of philosophers and schools in the ancient world, Kenny divides his book into topics such as Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and God.This thematic treatment makes it almost impossible for the reader to get a well-rounded view of individual philosophers (such as Plato) or of central texts (such as The Republic).Even worse, Kenny sticks largely to technical philosophical issues, which he doesn't relate to broader intellectual or cultural history.The result is a book that moves back and forth in time, jumps from philosopher to philosopher, and feels at times like a series of specialized mini-essays rather than a true survey of ancient thought. ... Read more

11. Gnostic Philosophy: From Ancient Persia to Modern Times
by Tobias Churton
Paperback: 480 Pages (2005-01-25)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$9.00
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Asin: 1594770352
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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An extensive examination of the history of gnosticism and how its philosophy has influenced the Western esoteric tradition

• Explains how the Gnostic understanding of self-realization is embodied in the esoteric traditions of the Rosicrucians and Freemasons

• Explores how gnosticism continues to influence contemporary spirituality

• Shows gnosticism to be a philosophical key that helps spiritual seekers "remember" their higher selves

Gnosticism was a contemporary of early Christianity, and its demise can be traced to Christianity's efforts to silence its teachings. The Gnostic message, however, was not destroyed but simply went underground. Starting with the first emergence of Gnosticism, the author shows how its influence extended from the teachings of neo-Platonists and the magical traditions of the Middle Ages to the beliefs and ideas of the Sufis, Jacob Böhme, Carl Jung, Rudolf Steiner, and the Rosicrucians and Freemasons. In the language of spiritual freemasonry, gnosis is the rejected stone necessary for the completion of the Temple, a Temple of a new cosmic understanding that today's heirs to Gnosticism continue to strive to create.

The Gnostics believed that the universe embodies a ceaseless contest between opposing principles. Terrestrial life exhibits the struggle between good and evil, life and death, beauty and ugliness, and enlightenment and ignorance: gnosis and agnosis. The very nature of physical space and time are obstacles to humanity's ability to remember its divine origins and recover its original unity with God. Thus the preeminent gnostic secret is that we are God in potential and the purpose of bona fide gnostic teaching is to return us to our godlike nature.

Tobias Churton is a filmmaker and the founding editor of the magazine Freemasonry Today. He studied theology at Oxford University and created the award-winning documentary series and accompanying book The Gnostics, as well as several other films on Christian doctrine, mysticism, and magical folklore. He lives in England. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars For some things you have to *Be It* to *Know It*
There is an insurmountable difference betwixt being on the inside of something, and being on the outside of something. Those who are on "the inside" *know* - and those who remain outside, on the porch,.. delude themselves with falseness, and in their benightened state mistake data for knowledge.

Appreciating that experientially, it becomes vigorously obvious that quintessence trumps academia in every regard. The sciences of apara vedya cannot comprehend the knowledge of Para Vedya. The non-Gnostic spirited are doomed to gaze drunkenly through a scanner darkly indeed, recognizing only those who their heavily filtered psychic browsers will let load into their hylicean awareness. And if the codec isn't there, their minds do not, can not and will never percieve - let alone comprehend - the Gnotheans among them, nor notice the fruits of their efforts in any media.

Those mind/souls in whom the Ancient Memetic Friend dwells are marked to one another, towering salient above the innumerable generations of sheeple (the bio-cultural fusion of the forms of humans with the mentalities of sheep). Friedrich Nietzsche once noted that the difference between a genius and a normal human is greater than the difference between a man and an ape. The same is true of the Gnostic and the unsouled. In fact, the difference between a souled person and a non-souled person is greater and more alien than is or can be between any other things in this world. To have a soul is to be in this world, but not be of it - and that is the greatest, and indeed the ultimate, difference that can exist.

Read this book - but not with your physical eyes. Listen to its message, but not with your rational ears. Feel the pattern embedded within it. If you can feel that pattern, if you can connect with the current which this book is a vector of,.. Then you are reading it from the inside. Its messages will thus be of increased profundity to you.

Much clairity can be brought to bear upon this book/topic by also reading:

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall
Food of The Gods, by Terrence McKenna
Hero With a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell
The Gnostic Religion, by Hans Jonas

Gnothi seauton!

2-0 out of 5 stars This book is just not accurate
I have to agree with Stephen Haines. This guy drags in everything but the kitchen sink. He makes Boehme a Gnostic, the troubadors, the Knights Templar, William Blake, the Masons, Jung, and finally, any physicist worth his salt.

I mean, some of these folks might not have been orthodox in their Christian practice, but being heterodox does not make one a Gnostic.

How did he forget Meister Eckhart, and Sabbatai Tzvi? If he has Boehme as a Gnostic, then these also are Gnostic.

He never distinguishes between Gnosticism as a group of sects, and gnostic practice, which pervades Kabbalah, Sufism,etc.

This is just not a good book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Do what thou wilt!It is the Law!
Although this book purports to be a history of a philosophy, Churton stretches definition of "gnosis" almost to the breaking point.In the minds of most today, "Gnosticism" refers to one of the many branches of Christianity.Following the work of Hans Jonas, Churton argues that the "gnostics" have roots far back in time, long before Jesus.The origins lie in Persia, and may reach into ancient India and the Upanishads.The author grants himself a certain breadth of view earlier scholars either didn't use or didn't possess.The result is a sweeping vista of various movements, most of which have but the most tenuous ties to one another.Woven into this rather tattered tapestry is the running theme of the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons.

The dictionary cites "gnosis" as "an intuitive knowledge of spiritual truths".That rather vague meaning is applied here with a vengence.Churton views the Zarathustrans as the earliest gnostics.Their division of the world into two realms, the material and the spiritual, laid the foundation for many elements of Western European philosophy and religion.Good and bad, light and dark, body and spirit were the basic formulas by which the cosmos was viewed by successive gnostic movements.The appearance of Christianity was a major challenge to the gnostic dualist idea, since the Christ figure merged the demarcated elements.Gnostics, who had at least as many views of Jesus as did the orthodox Christians, ultimately rejected the corporeal aspect of Jesus.For that view, and the religious rituals Gnostic Christians adopted, a campaign of vilification and condemnation as heretics resulted.In fact, much of what was known of them for many centuries was through the voices of their enemies.

Churton, however, is able to trace the rise of many sub-themes of the gnostic idea throughhistory.Besides the resistance to bishops and other forms of church hierarchy, the gnostics had a loftier view of deities.To them, the Judeo-Christian "creator" was a "demiurge" - a deceiver and trickster.A higher deity, a goddess figure, was the True God.Even that appellation was an insufficient description and this cosmic ghost become known as The One or The All.Knowledge of The One granted the possessor with immense spiritual powers.Thus, "Do As Thou Wilt" was acceptable in the framework of one who had achieved spiritual preeminence.

Following expressions of the gnostic ideal through the Knights Templars, the Romantic movement in art and philosophy, and other offshoots promoted by those feeling constrained by orthodox Christianity, Churton arrives at the key figure in this study.Aleister Crowley, one of the most bizarre figures in Western mysticism, is granted an entire chapter.Vilified and scorned by orthodox society, Crowley followed a lifestyle an Oscar Wilde would hestitate to adopt.Crowley incorporated nearly every mystical idiom available, finally setting convential norms aside with his proclamation of "sexual magick" in his"Book of the Law".In this, and other works, Crowley claimed not only to have achieved the highest spiritual realms, but was the personification of The One in the guise of Aiwass.Churton could not have imagined a more appropriate choice to end his book, but he goes a step further.As a conclusion fitting for the end of the 20th Century, he elevates Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon as the most recent expressions of the "spiritual all".

"The All" and its "Law" is the unifying theme of the book.The All, a deity, supra-deity or megadeity, replaced earlier forms of gnosticism.The expression leaves doubt, however, as to whether the dualist nature of original Gnosticism hasn't thereby been abandoned.Mysticism, of course, is boundless, permitting any form of definition and removing any restraint to practice."Do As Thou Wilt" is perfectly permissible so long as you can claim spiritual approval for your acts.The concept should appeal to "all" humanity, but so far hasn't even displaced the various forms of monotheism.At the opening of the 21st Century, Churton's analysis seems disjointed.He cites many figures, such as Benjamin Franklin, as "gnostics", but the effect is Churton wedging anybody he can define as "unorthodox" into the Gnostic pantheon.With all his attempt at "unity" he omits the two men who truly unified life, Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin.As an advocate of "spiritualism", Churton deftly sidesteps science, applying the usual disparagement of "materialism" as a dismissal.The book might have been a success in the opening years of the Enlightenment.Today, it's only a glaring anachronism. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]

4-0 out of 5 stars The Real McCoy
Long dissatisfied with the modern Western worldview, Westerners are increasingly turning to the Eastern spiritual traditions. This is not a bad thing, and I am not for a moment suggesting that there is no value in such philosophies. However, unbeknown to many, there is a rich alternate spiritual path right here in the West, and, nobody ever entirely able to shake off their centuries of cultural heritage, Westerners could find deeper resonance in these philosophies.

The reason Gnostic ideas are often overlooked is that due to a history of authoritarian domination by the "official" Church, many gnostic movements had no choice but to go underground. Hence "esoteric" knowledge, rather than "exoteric". But the "Da Vinci Code" phenomenon has put gnosis centre stage, and currently there is an eager revival underway. Problem is, the field is saturated with quackery, and sifting through the wheat is no easy task.

Churton, founding editor of "Freemasonry Today", is an authority on the subject and comprehensively chronicles Gnostic History to its earliest origins. What is more, he does this in a highly readable format, his journalistic experience shining through in each chapter. If your curiosity of Western esoterica has been piqued of late, and you're looking to get the low-down on what it is actually all about, there is probably no better place to start.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gnosis and Jnana are of the same Root
_It is fitting that the author reminds us that both gnosis and jnana both come from the same root, i.e. knowledge. Specifically, in this application, it means knowledge leading to union with the divine.

_I read the author's previous book on this subject through at least three times over the years. I found his idea of the gnosis extending through history to the modern day as both valid and inspiring. No matter how overpowering was the dogma and worldly power of the age, a true spiritual path survived in the background down through the ages. A Golden Thread linked these ages. That is also true in this book, for as the author points out, you can start reading at any of the fourteen chapters and still find the Center, for the chapters mirror each other. This is because where ever this thread intersects with an age, that is where the Center is- stringing seemingly disparate and profane history together on a necklace of higher wisdom. All through history has the gnosis flowed, through the Vedists, Kabbalists, Magi,Neoplatonists, Hermeticists, Troubadours, Knights Templar, Cathars, through individual mystics, to modern day neo-gnostics.

_This is no soulless, academic, encyclopedic compilation of gnostic terminology, the inherent meaning of the subject shines through. The meaning of true Gnosis as union with god, or rather, the Divine spark and origin in all of us is repeatedly expounded. Moreover, it is shown that this is why mankind is different from other beings. We come here from beyond to grow through suffering and hard moral choices- and to ultimately awake to our Divine origins. The ultimate reason and purpose of this is that unconscious God may ultimately come to know Himself as conscious God. That was set in place from the beginning.

_One other small comment of my own on the gnostic concept of the lesser, deranged "creator god." I am not at all sure that at least some of the gnostic writers weren't referring to the Romans here. It is well known that the imperial Romans engineered cults for the purpose of social and political control. The divinization and cults of the emperors are prime examples. They claimed to be gods, demanded worship, and set up false religions to achieve this- sounds like the evil, deranged, lesser god to me, or at least his microcosmic reflection....

Oh yes, thanks to this book I now view the character and works of Aleister Crowley with considerably more sympathy and respect.

_This is a thick book, but it is uniformly a joy to read. If one were to have but one book in their library on this most profoundly significant of subjects this would be a fine choice.
... Read more

12. What Is Ancient Philosophy?
by Pierre Hadot
Paperback: 384 Pages (2004-03-15)
list price: US$21.50 -- used & new: US$15.00
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Asin: 0674013735
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A magisterial mappa mundi of the terrain that Pierre Hadot has so productively worked for decades, this ambitious work revises our view of ancient philosophy--and in doing so, proposes that we change the way we see philosophy itself. Hadot takes ancient philosophy out of its customary realm of names, dates, and arid abstractions and plants it squarely in the thick of life. Through a meticulous historical reading, he shows how the various schools, trends, and ideas of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy all tended toward one goal: to provide a means for achieving happiness in this life, by transforming the individual's mode of perceiving and being in the world.

Most pressing for Hadot is the question of how the ancients conceived of philosophy. He argues in great detail, systematically covering the ideas of the earliest Greek thinkers, Hellenistic philosophy, and late antiquity, that ancient philosophers were concerned not just to develop philosophical theories, but to practice philosophy as a way of life-a way of life to be suggested, illuminated, and justified by their philosophical "discourse." For the ancients, philosophical theory and the philosophical way of life were inseparably linked.

What Is Ancient Philosophy? also explains why this connection broke down, most conspicuously in the case of academic, professional philosophers, especially under the influence of Christianity. Finally, Hadot turns to the question of whether and how this connection might be reestablished. Even as it brings ancient thoughts and thinkers to life, this invigorating work provides direction for those who wish to improve their lives by means of genuine philosophical thought.

(20020808) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars From the sage to the professor.
Hadot's What is Ancient Philosophy is the summation of a lifetime of research and practice in philosophy.
His thesis is fairly simple. Ancient philosophy begins in an existential choice. That choice is based on a vision of the world and a way of life based on that vision. It results in both a philosophical practice and a philosophical discourse. The practice has become largely ignored in favor of focusing on the discourse and this has resulted in a fairly complete misunderstanding of ancient philosophy.
I am not claiming that Hadot's presentation of ancient philosophy is completely correct. I think there are some problems with his formulation but before I get into that, I want to broadly outline his thesis.
First, when Hadot say ancient philosophy he means Greek and Roman philosophy- in spite of some other reviewers he is very cautious about comparisons to other traditions, such as Buddhism, Judaism or Taoism.
He sees that tradition of philosophy as largely composed of the Platonic Academy, Aristotle's school, Epicureanism and Stoicism. He also talks about the Cynics and the Pythagoreans although not in as much detail.
At the end of the book (p.278) he suggest that these schools represent fundamental alternatives toward human existence. All cultures can probably be shown to exhibit some variant of these alternatives.
Each of these schools posits an ethics, a physics and a theology. These three components were mutually supportive and served to explain the role of humanity in the cosmos and the role of the individual in the city, with their family and in the development of their own soul. The expression of these three components made up the philosophers discourse.
But that discourse was just empty words without the philosophers practice.
This practice took many forms some of which were specific to one school but many of which were common to all the schools. There was frequently a social component which might be the dedication to philosophical dialogue (as exemplified in Plato and some of the writings of Cicero), or to living together as a group following rules and regulations (which likely heavily influenced the monastic orders that Christianity developed). There were spiritual exercises that served to distance the individual philosopher from her everyday point of view. For example, she might be encouraged to develope the "view from above" which tried to see all of her life as if from a great almost cosmic distance. From this perspective, all her hopes, disappointments, stivings as well of those of others seemed equally petty and small. All events and all things seemed of equal value. She became detached from her everyday human ties to these things.
Or she might be encouraged to be mindful of the omnipresence of the possibility of her death. From this perspective, each moment became incredibly precious, an unfolding experience that she must give herself over to with all her being.
I want to throw in a personal aside here. I studied philosophy at Sir George Williams University in Montreal, Quebec in the '70s. I do not want to diminish in any way what I learned there. I took a year long seminar in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason from Prof. Vladimir Zeman that changed my life and taught me what little I know about being a scholar.
But the sort of exercises that Hadot describes as being the core of the daily life of the ancient philosopher were completely unheard of in what I was taught. Or, I suspect, in what most of our universities teach. Hadot dissects the meaning of the word philosophy as the lover of wisdom- not she who is wise but she who persues wisdom.
As Hadot points out, that lack of focus on philosophical practice distorts that history. By focusing on theoretical discourse and its most coherent expression, we lose sight of the possibility that these things were not what was most valued in ancient philosophy. Ancient philosophers were trying to work with their friends, their associates, their families and their communities to effect changes in their souls. Their written material was teaching material designed to be used by different types of students. Consistancy is not to be expected (p. 274) Aporiai happen.
So what are the flaws in this account? Let me suggest two. First, Hadot like many others, sees the ancients as too much of a piece for my taste.
Read Part Two of his book carefully. He had wonderful sections devoted to each school- to their fundamental outlook, their ethics, physics, theology and their spiritual exercises. Read the section on Aristotle and his school. They were a little different. They come across in Hadot's narrative almost like a research program a là Lakatos (I am showing my philosophical age). In other words, they do not come across as particularly spiritual. They read more like a bunch of secular humanist scientists out to destroy Christmas. More seriously, they don't sound interested in spiritual practices. Their practice was to accumulate knowledge. I think Hadot tries a little too hard to force them into his framework.
Which segues into my second issue with Hadot. He sees philosophy as necessarily a rational enterprise. It seems to me in my investigations into spiritual practice that at some point one is brought face to face with the ineffable. Not the irrational but the ineffable. One is brought into contact with that which cannot be spoken, let alone put into a propositional logic. To the extent that ancient philosophy is grounded in rationality is the extent to which it cannot deal with this.
But I think that some of the spiritual exercises Hadot discusses are designed to bring our friend the philsopher face to face with just that. If I am reading Hadot correctly, I believe that he gets this aspect of the history wrong.
These are minor complaints about what is a magnificent work. I have been strongly influenced by my readings in Strauss of late. There are many similarities (the insistence on philosophy as a way of life) and many differences to explore between these two. More universally, Hadot is a challenge to almost everyone's approach to ancient philosophy. His work simply has to be faced and learned from.
Anyone who reads the Greek and Roman philosophers and who tries to learn from them has much to gain from this book. It is one thing to read Cicero or Seneca or Plato. It is another to try to live one's life based on such reading. Hadot just might inspire you to try.

4-0 out of 5 stars interesting subject matter, tedious writing style
This book is not an introduction to ancient thought, but rather a seriously in-depth inquiry into the Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Skeptic, and other Hellenistic schools way of thinking and living. The subject matter is very interesting; unfortunately, the writing style is turgid and tedious. The repetitions involved provoke way too much yawning. Hadot is not what you would call a lively writer.

The gist of Hadot's book is this: The ancients lived their philosophies as a way of life; thinking about the big questions was embedded in the mundane and quotidian routines they lived through. This practice of living consciously slowly evaporated as Christianity began to dominate the European world. Thus began the rift between theory and practice.

The primary point that Hadot wants to indicate is that philosophical discourse assumes philosophical reflection; they are not separate processes but rather a totality for living a philosophical existence qua way of life. Yet, the philosophical living supersedes philosophical discourse; that is, action is more fundamental than language.

While the subject matter is fascinating at times, Hadot's own discourse is anything but lively. Is this the fault solely of the writing style? Or is it partially resulting from a poor translation? Or a combination of the two? Not being able to answer these questions, I can only forewarn the reader - the going gets pretty tough. Perseverance is required here.


The Cloud Reckoner

Extracts: A Field Guide for Iconoclasts

5-0 out of 5 stars The Practice of Philosophy
The idea of philosophy as a lived practice, rather than an academic discipline from which one retires at the end of the work day, is articulated by Hadot through the many examples of ancient philosophy in the western tradition. The writing here is engaging enough that it doesn't matter if you don't know Epictetus from Epicurus, you will get something out of this book. That aside, even the most lofty, Greek-reading classicist should be able to find something of interest since Hadot presents his ideas (and the ancients themselves) with such life. This book is another reminder that the history of philosophy isn't just the history of ideas and disembodied arguments, it is the history of people, their situations, and their practices.

5-0 out of 5 stars ancient philosophy on its own terms
The crucial thing about this book is that its author, while a noted practicing Philospher himself, clearly understands, and can clearly explain, the deep divide between what passes for Philosophy today and what it once was. Ancient Philosophy was a way of looking at one's life, and a way of living one's life. But don't expect a new-agey self-help book, either! This is not a book of platitudes - it is a thoughtful and at times difficult book.

The main focus of the book is on the development of Platonism and Stoicism - but Hadot takes us on a few side-roads as well. There is a great deal of attention given to later Platonism in particular. This aspect of the book is what makes it so important, in my opinion. Hadot tells the story of how the "Hellenes" circled their philosophical and spiritual wagons in the waning days of Classical Civlization - so-called Late Antiquity. But there is no sentimentality or histrionics.

If you are like me then as soon as you finish this book you will get and read Aurelius' "Meditations" - and then promptly move on to reading Plato. More than anything else this book is a perfect starting point for reading Plato.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great for philosophers and nonphilosophers alike
Accessible to any reader interested in what philosophy was like before it was taken over by the academic professors, especially under the influence of Christianity. This book is an introduction to the problems and arguments that constitute ancient philosophy. In keeping with Socrates' dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living, Hadot shows that philosophy was not simply a process for creating theories but, more importantly, a way of life for many.

Although we should be grateful to the translator for performing the tedious task; the translation is somewhat flat. However, I doubt there is a specialist in ancient philosophy who will not be enriched by reading this book and warmly recommend it to those in between. ... Read more

13. A History of Philosophy, Vol. 1: Greece and Rome From the Pre-Socratics to Plotinus
by Frederick Copleston
Paperback: 544 Pages (1993-03-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$9.25
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Asin: 0385468431
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Conceived originally as a serious presentation of  the development of philosophy for Catholic  seminary students, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume  A History Of Philosophy has  journeyed far beyond the modest purpose of its author to  universal acclaim as the best history of  philosophy in English.

Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit  of immense erudition who once tangled with A. J.  Ayer in a fabled debate about the existence of God  and the possibility of metaphysics, knew that  seminary students were fed a woefully inadequate diet  of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity  with most of history's great thinkers was reduced  to simplistic caricatures. Copleston set out to  redress the wrong by writing a complete history of  Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and  intellectual excitement -- and one that gives full  place to each thinker, presenting his thought in a  beautifully rounded manner and showing his links  to those who went before and to those who came  after him. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars Detailed and Informative
The basic structure of the book is as follows: Frederick Copleston first gives us background by describing the intellectual life of the philosopher in question before proceeding to systematically analyze the various aspects of his thought, often referring, of course, to their major works. For example, the section on Plato is divided into ten parts: "The Life of Plato," "Plato's Works," "Theory of Knowledge," "The Doctrine of Forms," "The Psychology of Plato," "Moral Theory," "The State," "Physics of Plato," "Art," and "The Old Academy." As expected, most of the focus is on Plato and Aristotle, the sections devoted to them accounting for nearly 50% of this 506-page book. Copleston writes in clear and concise prose, occasionally using diagrams for further clarification.

It should be noted that the late Copleston was a Jesuit priest. In this and the other volumes he often juxtaposes his Roman Catholic Thomist view with the philosophies he examines. However, he treats all of them with fairness, sympathy, respect, and sometimes something approaching reverence, especially in the cases of the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.

As Copleston had Catholic seminary students in mind when he wrote these histories, they assume a working knowledge of Latin and Greek, which are sprinkled throughout the text, mostly untranslated. However, even without any knowledge of these languages, one can still learn quite a bit from this detailed and informative presentation, though it would undoubtedly help to have a philosophical dictionary on hand while reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simple like this
Copleston's History of Philosophy is a masterpiece. It is complete and simple, made for scholars and lay people. Usually it is very difficult to achieve such deep and academic investigation with no room for intricate and technical language. Sometimes the text turns on more complex, because the subject is complex as well. But this did not keep the fresh air of new and understandable knowledge that exists throughout the work.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Introduction to Philosophy
Frederick Copleston wrote his A History of Philosophy with the original intent of instructing Catholic seminarians on the progress of philosophy through the ages.The nine volume work has gone onto wide acclaim and is heralded as one of the best on the topic of philosophical history.

This book is the first of the nine volume work and covers Western philosophy from its early beginnings on the Greek islands and onto the rest of the Mediterranean world, expanding into Egypt, Israel, and the Roman Empire.

Copleston divides the book into five sections: The Pre-Socratics, The Socratic Period, Plato, Aristotle, and the Post-Aristotelians.The vast majority of the book revolves around the three great classical philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.The author excels at noting that none of these philosophers was greater than the other, nor did they effectively cancel out each other, but rather built upon existing philosophy.Aristotle, while different in his philosophy, was both an admirer and critic of Plato.Copleston also succeeds in clarifying the philosophies of the Pre-Socratics, whose past can easily be overlooked by the magnitude of Socrates.In A History of Philosophy, the Pre-Socratics are equally as important as the next, each bearing importance to subsequent philosophy.The book is tied together by the referencing of philosophers back and forth throughout.

Some minor criticisms are in relation to the author's intent.Obviously, he would have changed the approach had he known the work would go onto greater things.The most obvious downfall of the book is that large sections of text are written in Greek and Latin.For the average Catholic seminarian, this would be no problem.For the layman, it is a challenge.The footnotes are in relation to sources and none of them offer translations.What is especially aggravating is that Copleston identifies specific terms that are key to understanding a philosophy, many written in Greek and never translated.Many of Aristotle's points were lost on me, since they were written in Greek.This could easily be fixed by a revised edition, providing footnotes and chapter references at the back of the book.One other criticism is the fact that Copleston inserts his own opinions of modern philosophers within the text.This detracts from the non-biased approach that philosophical history should be approached with.He succeeds in noting the successes and failures in philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, yet criticizes Nietsche and other modernists at the same time.Perhaps the smugness that accompanies his criticisms is due to the fact that many modernists were atheists, and he was writing for a non-atheist audience.

Overall, this book is a great introduction to philosophy and is a good springboard for further investigating the philosophers you find interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars The BEST History of Philosophy
I would like to say that Mr.Copleston did a great job writing his masterpiece. I am wondering how many years did it take him to read all the original works and write this set? I would like to emphasize that this history of philosophy does not have any undertone of any bias, and all accusations of the lack of impartiality do not have any basis. Frederick Copleston explicitly states that he is the Jesuit priest and the third volume of the set is his favorite. So what? Other volumes are not affected by this circumstance. Coplestone accurately describes the lives and theories of major philosophers. It should be noted that this set is a rather dry reading and beginners should find some other history of philosophy (like Russel's History of Western Philosophy, but be aware Russel's version is "slightly" biased). Back to Copleston's History: the book examines the history of philosophy from pre-Socratics to Aristotle(with concentrating on Socrates-Plato-Aristotle) to "footnotes":)
I recommend this book and the whole set to serious students of philosophy and other lesser mortals who want to understand the development and evolution of the Western philosophical thinking.

3-0 out of 5 stars The academic standard, and undefeated champion
I originally picked up this book with the best of intentions: to read all nine (or eleven) volumes, in belated "revenge" for not having majored in philosophy.Those intentions are now being stretched over a longer period of time.

I have no doubt that this is the "academic standard" in the history of philosophy.You can tell, because Father Copleston makes a habit of citing foreign languages without translation.This used to be (and still may be) the distinguishing mark of an academic: just put it down in French, German, Latin, or Greek, and if the unwashed masses don't get it, tough.In particular, I would highly recommend that you learn the Greek alphabet before embarking on this adventure.Not the Greek language, mind you, but just enough of the alphabet to spell out all the Greek words which Copleston throws at you.

The book is a major accomplishment; the fruit of a titanic intellectual effort.Still, there is competition in this rather small niche, most obviously Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy" (in one volume!) and Anthony Gottlieb's "The Dream of Reason."Quite frankly, for readers who are not professional philosophers (or students of philosophy) I might recommend one of those two books.Bertrand Russell's book gives you a bonus, in including huge swathes of real history to put his philosophical history in context, while Gottlieb is smart, diverting, and original.

Father Copleston (a Jesuit) is smart as a tack, but had no intention of being diverting or original.It is really an advantage that Copleston's bias is openly declared: he is a Catholic who holds that the true philosophy is the Scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages --- properly modernized, of course.So you won't expect him to dwell on people like Pseudo-Dionysius.And his essay on Plato's "Doctrine of the Forms" is, indeed, a major intellectual undertaking.It is so good that the acute reader can spot Plato's errors all over the place, such as Plato's assumption that the only real knowledge was of things that are eternally true and unchanging.That, if you stop to think about it, is a whale of an assumption. To take a trivial example, we all generalize from the frogs we have seen to an "Ideal Frog" --- it's part of recognizing reality.But it really plays havoc when we try to understand evolution, and must realize that there is no "Ideal Frog," or recognize that the "Ideal Frog" is constantly changing, over a period of time which we may not be able to comprehend.So Plato made it hard for humankind to understand evolution.

And then, later on, in the chapter on "The State," you understand it when Copleston enthusiastically joins Plato's demands for censorship of the arts, and the rule of the Philosopher-King.After all, I am not the first person to have seen the Catholic Index of Prohibited Books --- and the Papacy --- as attempts to bring Plato's ideas about the state to fruition.

I guess, in the end, I would like to describe a choice for the reader who is interested in the history of philosophy.

Choice A would be Lord Bertie, who squeezes it all into one magisterial volume: A History of Western Philosophy.

Choice B would be Anthony Gottlieb:The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance.The drawback here is that Gottlieb is only half-done.

Choice C would be to go whole hog and get the entire set by Copleston.You are not required to read every word, but the whole vast and detailed panorama is at your fingertips.If you're on a budget, you could always buy one volume a month, or something like that.:-)

Good luck, and happy reading! ... Read more

14. An Introduction to Ancient Philosophy (Littlefield, Adams Quality Paperback)
by A. H. Armstrong
Paperback: 260 Pages (1981-01-25)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$20.00
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Asin: 0822604183
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Covers the period from the beginning of Greek Philosophy to St. Augustine. ... Read more

15. The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies
by Thomas McEvilley
Hardcover: 816 Pages (2001-11-01)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$29.99
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Asin: 1581152035
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This unparalleled study of early Eastern and Western philosophy challenges every existing belief about the foundations of Western civilization.Spanning thirty years of intensive research, this book proves what many scholars could not explain: that today’s Western world must be considered the product of both Greek and Indian thought—Western and Eastern philosophies.

Thomas McEvilley explores how trade, imperialism, and migration currents allowed cultural philosophies to intermingle freely throughout India, Egypt, Greece, and the ancient Near East. This groundbreaking reference will stir relentless debate among philosophers, art historians, and students. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

2-0 out of 5 stars This book leaves much to be desired.
I did not like this book because it makes many assertions without attempting to prove them, it presents a rather unclear chronology of both early Greek history and early Indian thought, and finally, it largely ignores the most important source of early Greek philosophy (Homer). The thesis that the Persian empire brought together Greeks and Indians is interesting, but McEvilley can do little more than posit this idea. It would be a more compelling thesis if he undertook serious readings of the early Greek and Indian philosophers. His readings, however, don't even scratch the surface and are at best merely subjective. To be fair, I do think that comparisons of Greek and Indian philosophy should be done and I am glad that someone has attempted to do this. The problem is that anything other than a comparison that begins with a very detailed approach to Indo-european languange and culture is bound to go nowhere. For anyone who wants to delve into the Indian/Greek question, their time would be better spent reading the works of Gregory Nagy, M.L. West, Georges Dumezil and Walter Burkert. They are truly the experts on this topic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful and timely
Although I am not a student of philosophy and I have not finished reading this book, I was compelled to write a very brief review.

It is quite true that often times the views and ideas of how knowledge came about in the east remain Indocentric and in the west remain Eurocentric.In this book however, I've found a very nicely researched marriage of world philosophies, for the first time, that I didn't find to be excessively biased with either perspective.It is unfortunate that contemporary works still remain so focused on one ideology or geography and often biased, because they detract from true understanding.I've found that this book is just the book that touches upon these ideas.

I also believe the publication of this book to be timely as travel to the east has increased given today's global economy and it's growing players:India and China.As I mentioned in a response to another person's review, these two regions of the world (or modern nations) have been the global commerce leaders off and on for centuries.The US and Western Europe have dominated this role in the past few centuries but these old powers are rising up again.With this rise, it is inevitable that the ideas presented in this book will become increasing mainstream.The world has not always been separated into east and west, as noted in this book.Depending on the economics of the time, in previous centuries global commerce has flourished and then declined off and on.It won't be long before this will be noticed by the larger majority of people as more and more historical evidence from the east becomes available for study.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Limitations of Philology
A great deal of work went into this book; a lot of opinions had to be sifted, compared, and evaluated. Prof. MacEvilley is clearly quite intelligent and good at sorting things out, even when crucial information is missing. He chooses to deal with difficult subjects like reincarnation (a misnomer) and atomism, as well as a wide variety of metaphysical subtleties. He does not always succeed.

One reason is that he uses western philosophical terminology to discuss metaphysics. Terms like reincarnation and polytheism do not help explain these ideas. Further, one is left with the impression that the various viewpoints represented are akin to western "schools" of philosophy; that is to say, someone's personal idea of what the universe is like. Most of the ideas expressed by the thinkers he is discussing are commentary on a unanimous tradition; a matter of approach, often for teaching purposes.Many of the same ideas can be found in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

There is no mention of the major contributor in this field, Dr. A. K. Coomaraswamy, who wrote extensively on these topics, as long ago as the 1920s; nor of Rene Guenon, whose work could have supplied better definitions for the technical terminology.

No major religion believes in reincarnation. It would be heretical since it implies that some part of a man's personality and experience survives his death. Reincarnation is a 19th century word, as MacEvilley notes.Hindus and Buddhists believe in "transmigration," but the Lord is the only transmigrant. It is He who dons and discards the forms of the visible and invisible world. People in many traditional societies did believe in reincarnation, but what they meant by this is difficult to ascertain. It was connected to their ideas about kinship as Maurice Hocart and others have documented. It was the rise of the major religions that ended these beliefs. They survived only in areas beyond the influence of these dominant cultures.
Meditation on past lives is simply an exercise for novices, akin to counting rosary beads (which once represented ancestors). The language of Hinduism, Buddhism and Pythagoreanism that suggests reincarnation is only a manner of speech. There is a difference between exoteric understanding of these ideas and their esoteric meaning. Hindus were more forgiving about the misunderstandings of the "untaught manyfolk". The Buddha preached against doctrines involving reincarnation.

While MacEvilley is right in claiming priority for the Greeks regarding certain modes of analytical thought, he makes no mention of all the work of Eric Havelock and others who have traced these changes to the alphabet, which provided a highly abstract and visible translation of speech, not possible with earlier forms of writing.Greek philosophy and its modern offshoots are a result of a revolution in language, brought about by this technology.

While he may be right in some of the particulars regarding Indian influence on Greece and vice versa, it was tradition, not invention or diffusion that played the main role. Many of these ideas can be found around the globe, which suggests they spread with the dispersal of Paleolithic peoples out of Africa. These older conceptions form a substructure that makes one culture recognize itself in another. Philology is necessary for an understanding of the past but it deals primarily with texts and this is its weakness. It must be supplemented with other disciplines like anthropology and art history. Human culture existed long before writing and what we see in these early writings is often the remnants of older ideas that were once more widespread than we realize.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truly Excellent!
This a wonderful read. The level of intellectual and spiritual interaction between Greece and India will probably come as a surprise to many first time readers. The shared mythological motifs, psychological and cosmological doctrines are explained in detail.This book is simply in a class by itself and is a must read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The intertwining of ancient Indian and Greek philosophy
For many, certainly for me philosophy started with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. What a mistake! What we think of as Greek Philosophy is a mix between Indian and Greek philosophy based on extensive exchange of knowledge starting no later than 550 BC at the time of Buddha in India and Pythagoras in Greece. Up to 350 AD you can find the same concepts in India and Greece. Therefore Western thinking being unique, at least up to that point in time, is an illusion. It was joint East West thinking.

So you may ask, so what? The surprising merit of this book is that by comparing the different schools of thought in India with those of Greece I developed for the first time some real understanding of the differences. A second merit is that the book proves that what appear to be important differences between East and Western ways of thinking are due do misinterpretation of texts. There are differences and overlaps between the schools but that does not depend on whether they are Greek or Indian. Finally I feel more comfortable by knowing that our philosophical base is based on the joint efforts from two great philosophical traditions.

There is no book on which I have spent more hours in reading time. But it was worth it. For an easy start begin with the last chapter,number 25. Even reading only that chapter makes the book worthwhile to buy.
... Read more

16. The Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece
by Three Initiates
Paperback: 132 Pages (2010-03-27)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$11.95
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Asin: 1451550359
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Based on the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, the ancient Egyptian who founded astrology and alchemy, The Kybalion seeks to offer mystical and mysterious secrets of the past. This historic text explains the Hermetic philosophy of success and illumination of life, that belonged to ancient Egypt and Greece, andprovides clear direction for implementing these timeless secrets in modern life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (67)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
This book clarifies the principles behind all religions and philosophies in a most elegant way.
Without too many attempts to convince readers, the Kybalion lays out seven principles that can be easily applied to any area of life;health wealth relationships, any area of life. If applied to a religion or a science, it will clarify the meaning of a written passage or an experiment.
While the book does offer explanations, it is really meant to be experimented with and applied to life. For example, the Principle of Vibration states "Nothing rests; everything moves" and then the authors explain how things that may not have been considered motion before actually are forms of motion.
Although the Kybalion tends to lean on scientific examples, I found the book to be very spiritual in nature. Without question one of my favorite books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Still the Best Primer on Basic Hermetic Philosophy Available
This book is, to my mind, still the best primer on Basic Hermetic Philosophy available. It's coverage of the Seven Fundamental Laws of Hermeticism is timeless. It also adds seven related Axioms which are of very practical use in implementing the seven laws in one's life. Indeed, the seven axioms are strikingly similar to the knowledge of the Mystery Schools. One must be willing to look past the sometimes dated, but almost never arcane, language and the occasionally sensationalist tone of this book to fully appreciate its value. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this little book is actually quite readable considering it was written in the early 1900's.

As far as the intermixture of Eastern mysticism (as mentioned as a major negative by one of the lowest scored reviews to this book) as the true initiate to the Hermetic Mysteries knows, the Hermetic Philosophy was a Greco-Egyptian synthesis of esoteric truths and methods that were not limited to the historical periods and regions of ancient Greece and Old Kingdom Egypt. To include yogic principles and yogic techniques in the book is quite appropriate.

Suspend your reluctance lest you are disinclined to buy this book because if its date of publication or its occasional inaccuracies (understandable given that in 1912 we were less than 50 years from the rebirth of the serious and open, as opposed to secret, study of Hermetics - which had been obscured for centuries). Even though it is available, if you look hard enough, on the WWW (and no please don't ask me for the site), I already own one copy and am in the process of buying another from Amazon for use in another location. I don't own too many "doubles" of books on magic or the practice of mysticism (I am not that rich), and that should tell you something.

Good Reading...Louis

5-0 out of 5 stars A View of The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece +++
Due to the very wide and deep areas covered by "The Kybalion" and the historical fog around the "three authors" and "their" origins and related authors and their origins -- I will only claim my own very personal [and very independant] Rosicrucian understanding of this little book. I understand "The Kybalion" as the single best presentation of Rosicrucian Philosophy -- which would seem to be part of the background of the quite likely real author of this work -- William Walker Atkinson [and maybe others]. Possible Symbolist meanings of Rose-and-Cross are such Dyads as Laws-and-Trial, Life-and-Trust, Love-and-Truth and Mary-and-Jesus -- as well as exoteric and esoteric meanings of Christian Rosenkreuz. The major content of "The Kybalion" is in as much ordered detail as just sufficient and necessary to guide one towards such Dyadic Philosophy -- as well a transcendant guide to further Inspiration that is unlimited -- due to the expansive generality of this little book. Understanding increases upon every re-reading. The exact ordering of topics -- based on the Seven Hermetic Principles -- is most precise and natural -- as is the exact intention of other aspects of "The Kybalion" -- down to careful explanations of principles, examples and usages thereof, and the exact wording used for all the prose. Interesting that this little book is from 1908 -- considering the close harmony with later Relativity and Quantum Dynamics -- matter as a form of energy and levels and vibrations of such energy -- as just so remarked upon in "The Kybalion". Ever-Inspiring +++

5-0 out of 5 stars A great research tool!
The Kybalion is one of the main philosophies that Occultists draw on - over and over again - sometimes without knowing it- and this book has much for the novice as for the advanced practitioner. Some of the material will help you understand some of the stumbling blocks when working on a particular occult project.I recommend this book 100% and can offer a few other key books if you are looking for just practical occult teachings, i.e. how to achieve occult power instead of just plain research (but these books that I am about to recommend really are not for the novice, they are strictly for someone seeking occult power and who can keep it in check):

True Astral Worship: Why Today, More Than Ever, Are The Pre-Religions Very Important.

The New Avatar And The Destiny Of The Soul: Answers To The Question: Why?

Second Sight: A Study Of Natural And Induced Clairvoyance

How To Read The Crystal: With A Concise Dictionary Of Astrological Terms

Finding The Higher Powers Of Mind And Spirit: The Way To The Prime Goal

How To Achieve Clairvoyance And Occult Power

Getting In Tune With The Infinite: A Guide To Fullness Of Peace, Power, And Plenty

Each of these books, as well as The Kybalion can help you find the astral plane, but what you do there, and why you go there is your affair.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must-Have Book on Hermetics
After reading this book, I can say this is very insightful guide to the principles underlying hermetic.Each of the seven principles is presented and discussed in an easy to understand manner.However, to apply these principles to your life is another matter.This book is not about the practice of hermitic, but about the primal philosophy that transcend mysticism and religion.It is an invaluable addition to your library, but only if you are ready for it.

The author(s) of this book, who we know only as Three Initiates, starts out describing the fundamentals of the hermetic history and philosophy. Then it briefly introduces the seven principles of hermetic, setting a framework for further discussion:

I. The Principle of Mentalism
II. The Principle of Correspondence
III. The Principle of Vibration
IV. The Principe of Polarity
V. The Principle of Rhythm
VI. The Principle of Cause and Effect
VII. The Principle of Gender

Prior presenting each principle, Three Initiates builds up the necessary knowledge to understand it better.For example, concepts of "Mental Transmutation" and "The All" are discussed before starting with the Principle of Mentalism.Each principle is explained with some detail, and multiple examples.

Finally, Three Initiates advices us against the pursuing Knowledge without expressing it into Action, which otherwise becomes a vain affair.In the last chapter, it summarizes the previously presented principles and briefly explain how to approach them.

This is a book that belongs to every mystical library, but paradoxically, not the first that a new student of hermetic should approach.For that purpose, I would recommend Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon or The New Hermetics: 21st Century Magick for Illumination and Power by Jason Augustus Newcomb.However, the philosophical content in this book is approachable from any mystical foundation, not just hermetics.As such, buy it because eventually you will find it in your path to mysticism.
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17. Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism (Studies in Comparative Philosophy and Religion)
by Adrian Kuzminski
Paperback: 170 Pages (2010-06-16)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$23.89
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Asin: 0739125079
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Adrian Kuzminski argues that Pyrrhonism, an ancient Greek philosophy, can best be understood as a Western form of Buddhism. Not only is its founder, Pyrrho, reported to have traveled to India and been influenced by contacts with Indian sages, but a close comparison of ancient Buddhist and Pyrrhonian texts suggests a common philosophical practice, seeking liberation through suspension of judgment with regard to beliefs about non-evident things. ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars Profound, detailed and exciting!
A concise, detailed and scholarly analysis of Pyrrhonian skecpticsm and its startling similarities with major aspects of both early and later Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, approaches and goals. If you've ever wondered how the ancient Greek philosophers would have rendered and practiced the 'Buddhist ideal', this book is your answer. It's not a quick read, however. You may find yourself pausing every few paragraphs to contemplate their significance and relevance to your own experience. Well worth the effort! ... Read more

18. Early Greek Philosophy (Penguin Classics)
by Various
Paperback: 336 Pages (2002-11-26)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.56
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Asin: 0140448152
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This anthology presents the early sages of Western philosophy and science who paved the way for Plato and Aristotle and their successors. Democritus's atomic theory of matter, Zeno's dazzling "proofs" that motion is impossible, Pythagorean insights into mathematics, Heraclitus's haunting and enigmatic epigrams-all form part of a revolution in human thought that relied on reasoning, forged the first scientific vocabulary, and laid the foundations of Western philosophy. Jonathan Barnes has painstakingly brought together the surviving Presocratic fragments in their original contexts, utilizing the latest research and a newly discovered major papyrus of Empedocles. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Review of Barnes's "Early Greek Philosophy"
It should be noted that there are two works on Presocratic philosophy by Dr. Barnes: this work, and a more esoteric work entitled "The Presocratic Philosophers."

That said, this work, the exoteric counterpart, serves is primary purpose: appealing to the general pulic. It features an excellent collection of quotations from a variety of sources. Barnes is cautious about the validity of this sources, and admits their dubious character where necessary. His introduction gives an adequate overview of contemporary scholarship on and interpretations of presocratic thought, and its place in the history of philosophy.

The work lacks two things. First, because it is exoteric in its design, it lacks a vigorous interpretation of the texts given, beyond the short introduction. Second, its organization is often inadequate; arranged by subject in some places, and sources in other places. The reader is left to organize and interpret the information much by their own discretion. Whether this is ultimately an advantage or disadvantage, I will not here decide.

5-0 out of 5 stars Philosophy...before there was philosophy!
This volume covers all the Greek pre-socratic philosophers providing all of their existing fragments, sayings, epigrams, quotes and teachings.

It was originally published in 1987.This is the second edition, revised in 2001. Jonathan Barnes says that he has re-translated everything and re-tested it to the Greek.He also has put the fragments and sayings in bold, which he did not in the first edition.Everything is spaced appropriately, italics given when explaining, and all the sources are provided under each saying. An interesting addition is the recently found papyrus of Empedocles!

Philosophers include:

Hesiod, Epicharmus, Pherecydes -(precursors); Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Pythagoras (and 5th century Pythagoreans), Alcmaeon, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Melissus, Zeno, Empedocles, Hippasus, Philolaus, Ion, Anaxagoras, Archelaus, Leucippus, Democritus and Diogenes.

The text is lucid, readable, enjoyable and profound. Also included is a synopsis the life of each philosopher, a wonderful introduction, an appendix and 3 different indexes at the end!

I commend Penguin and Mr. Barnes for updating this amazing edition!

5-0 out of 5 stars the definitive volume
There is not much existing material written by the Presocratic Greek philosophers, but most of it is here, presented in its proper context and without a lot of undue commentary.The book simply presents the material, you can decide what it means.If you are interested in the Presocratics, this is the essential volume.Just be prepared: 99% of what is known about these ancient figures comes from references penned by later Greeks or even Romans two or three centuries after the fact.

5-0 out of 5 stars The wonder of what is that it is
Philosophy begins in wonder ' at what is that it is'. The Pre-Socratics at the very beginning of the historical enterprise of philosophy( love of wisdom) contradict each other in presenting total visions of the world. For Parmenides all is one unchanging, and the Real is this Eternal Stasis. For Heraclitus " we step and do not step into the same river, we are and are not" All is change. In this way in these contradictions these philosophers set the stage for the questionings of Socrates and the synthesis of Plato and the explorations of Aristotle.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not that great.
Let the publisher be your guide.

It's by Penguin Press -- it's for someone who's browses a half-price book store and gets the idea that some familiarity with pre-socratic philsophy is something they want to add to their lives.

It lacks the critical richness of other works (I enjoy Patricia Curd et. al's ANCIENT GREEKPHILOSOPHY) -- so if you want depth, you won't find it here.

I read this book as part of an ancient greek philosophy class and I hated virtually everything on the reading list.This book was part of said curs-ed list. ... Read more

19. A Companion to Ancient Philosophy (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy)
Paperback: 832 Pages (2009-01-20)
list price: US$52.95 -- used & new: US$40.24
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Asin: 1405188340
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A Companion to Ancient Philosophy provides a comprehensive and current overview of the history of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy from its origins until late antiquity.

  • Comprises an extensive collection of original essays, featuring contributions from both rising stars and senior scholars of ancient philosophy
  • Integrates analytic and continental traditions
  • Explores the development of various disciplines, such as mathematics, logic, grammar, physics, and medicine, in relation to ancient philosophy
  • Includes an illuminating introduction, bibliography, chronology, maps and an index
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best intermediate overview of academic readings in ancient philosophy
Quite simply this is the best intermediate introduction to ancient philosophy currently available that gives a introduction to the current status of scholarly reading of ancient philosophical texts.Giving an overview of the general approaches and current ways philosophical questions are parsed historically and topically. Any student who wishes to become familiar with contemporary approaches to the interpretation of ancient philosophy will find represented here most of the mainstream academic styles currently in ascendants in scholarly journals and discussion.
Excerpt: Our aim as editors of A Companion to Ancient Philosophy is to show how specialists today read the texts of the Greek and Roman philosophers. To indicate the range of work in this field, we have solicited contributors from the United States and Canada, from numerous European countries (Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy) and from Japan. In addition to senior scholars, we have also invited a number of younger specialists in the history of ancient philosophy, who are destined, in the near future, not only to continue the work of their predecessors, but also to revise their approaches, methods, and results. We want to demonstrate, in a general way, that it is philosophically important to do the history of philosophy, and especially the history of ancient philosophy. The need to justify this enterprise is not as long¬standing as one might think, since the idea that it is philosophically important to do the history of philosophy and even, quite simply, that "doing the history of philoso¬phy" has a meaning, are not very old claims but date hack at most to the end of the eighteenth century. Even if one admits the importance of the history of philosophy in philosophical activity, one might ask more particularly: Why is a work like ours use¬ful, given that since the second half of the nineteenth century at least, histories of ancient philosophy have been written according to "scientific" criteria that are still roughly ours? In answering the particular question, we will make some remarks about the more general question.
Ancient Philosophy is defined as the group of philosophical works written in the Greek and Roman world from the beginning of philosophy in the sixth century BCE in the Greek colony of Miletus on the coast of Asia Minor to the end of antiquity, some 50 years after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. In 529 CE Justinian, the Christian ruler of the Eastern Empire in Constantinople, closed the Neoplatonic (pagan) school in Athens. and the philosophers fled to Ctesiphon (in modern Iraq). Later a lively Arabic philosophical and scientific tradition developed in the region, which had deep roots in Greek and Roman thought. The 1,200 years to which our volume is devoted, from the sixth century BCE to the sixth century CE (see CHRONOLOGY) is a period full of noise and passion, but the philosophers took part in one and the same drama, a drama that makes sense and that lasted until Christianity, after engulfing political power, was imposed as the only permissible thought. The last fires of ancient thought were set by Neoplatonists of the sixth century CE, by individuals like Simplicius and Philoponus, but were then quenched. Between the moment of its birth and the moment of its disappearance, however, ancient philosophy had its own dynamic and logic, which the chapters in this volume explore.
The vast majority of philosophical texts from antiquity have been lost, many of them already in antiquity (see MOM ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY AND THE DOXOGRAPHICAL TRADI¬TION). Of important philosophers, we are fortunate to have the complete or relatively complete works in Greek of Plato, Aristotle (his school treatises but not his published works), Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Sextus Empiricus, and Plotinus; and in Latin of Lucretius, Cicero, and Seneca. We owe a tremendous debt to the commentary tradi¬tion of late antiquity for preserving much of what has come down to us, and especially the works of Plato and Aristotle (see Mejer's paper on the preservation of fragments of pre-Socratic philosophy; see Hoffmann, WHAT WAS COMMENTARY IN LATE ANTIQUITY? THE EXAMPLE OF THE NEOPLATONIC COMMENTATORS, on the commentary tradition more generally).
Different historical periods have had different conceptions about the relationship between their own philosophical practice and that of their philosophical predecessors. Aristotle, for example, who was perhaps the first philosopher to take seriously the history of philosophy, famously represented his predecessors in the first book of the Metaphysics as taking important but stumbling steps toward his own theory of the four causes. This approach to the history of philosophy, which is sometimes called "Whig history" and which we will call the "teleological" approach, takes as the culmination or "end" of philosophy the current and/or preferred philosophical theory, and inter¬prets earlier thinkers as contributing in one way or another to the development of that theory (see Hussey, THE BEGINNINGS OF SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY IN ARCHAIC GREECE,
pp. 7-8). Hegel adopted a similar approach in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy in the early nineteenth century. The attitude can be found even in a philosopher as modern as Heidegger, who thought that Plato and Aristotle opened a chapter in the history of being ("the forgetting of being") which Heidegger himself intended to close.
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20. Voices of Ancient Philosophy: An Introductory Reader
Paperback: 480 Pages (2000-09-07)
list price: US$57.95 -- used & new: US$39.98
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Asin: 0195126955
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Edited by one of the most renowned scholars in the field, Voices of Ancient Philosophy: An Introductory Reader is a unique and accessible introduction to the richness of ancient philosophy. Featuring a topical--as opposed to chronological--organization, this text introduces students to the wide range of approaches and traditions in ancient philosophy. In each section Annas presents the ancient debates on a particular philosophical topic, drawing on a greater diversity of ancient sources than a chronological approach allows. The book is divided into six sections: Fate and Freedom; Reason and Emotion; Knowledge, Belief, and Skepticism; Metaphysical Questions; How Should You Live?; and Society and the State. Annas includes a generous selection of the works of Plato and Aristotle, as well as those of the Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics. She also includes selections from less familiar philosophers and from authors in whose works philosophical issues arise, such as poets, medical writers, historians, and Jewish and Christian writers. The volume features biographical sketches of the philosophers, a timeline, and short discussions of the major movements in ancient philosophy. An excellent text for courses in ancient philosophy and history of philosophy, Voices of Ancient Philosophy: An Introductory Reader will also be of interest to scholars and general readers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Unique presentation of ancient philosophy as conversation
Julia Annas has produced a remarkable volume intended as a reader for introductory ancient philosophy classes. I'm using it in my class right now, and I'm finding it to be exactly what I was looking for.

An upper level ancient philosophy course should be more directed toward examining the whole of a philosopher's thought, and reading longer works in context with the entire philosopher's outlook is ideal in that environment. In an introductory course, however, students are taking philosophy for the first time, and the ancient philosophers are merely a means to learning philosophy for the first time. Focusing on issues is thus more important than getting the whole of a philosopher's thought down in every way.

This book presents six topics, with ancient philosophers' writings on the topics organized as a conversation. In any given topic, you usually find Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and Epicurus, with some representation by the pre-Socratics, the Sophists, the Skeptics, the Neo-Platonists, and even Augustine and Boethius to round out topics not discussed as much by the ancients. You also will find those whose work is not widely recognized as philosophy but has a bearing on philosophy, including Homer, the Hippocratic school, an excerpt from one of the Maccabean books, and a short snippet of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. The most prominent ancient Greek and Roman philosophers dominate, however, since this book is about them.

The six topics are (1) Fate and Freedom (which includes divine foreknowledge and the fixity of the future), (2) Reason and Emotion, (3) Knowledge, Belief, and Skepticism (including relativism), (4) Metaphysical Questions (including paradoxes, the Forms, cause/explanation, and time), (5) How Should You Live?, and (6) Society and the State.

Annas comments after the readings, sometimes on a few readings at once and sometimes on each reading. Her comments are suggestive of possible interpretations of difficult texts and potential criticisms of arguments, and often they simply pull together themes throughout the works of a philosopher or throughout the unit among different philosophers. Most of the time they're helpful to introductory students without simply summarizing the readings and allowing them not to read the text itself. Much in the comments is for further thought, though some is just to bring out things that may not be clear.

As with any project like this, one might make different choices about which topics and readings to include and what to say in the comments, but Annas is one of the most prominent scholars of ancient philosophy today, and reading what she considers to be the most important material for an introductory course in ancient philosophy is certainly going to give someone a good understanding of what there is, even if another expert might have preferred other things included instead or in addition.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for those first approaching ancient philosophy, and I consider it an excellent textbook for an intro ancient philosophy course. I'm glad she put this together. ... Read more

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