By Julia Annas

The culture of old philosophy is a protracted, wealthy and sundry one, during which the notes of dialogue and argument always resound. This e-book introduces historical debates, attractive us with the traditional advancements in their topics. relocating clear of the presentation of historical philosophy as a succession of significant thinkers, the ebook provides readers a feeling of the freshness and liveliness of old philosophy, and of its big range of topics and kinds.

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Additional resources for Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

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To make out his case, he introduces the ideal state as a parallel for the structure of the moral person’s soul; as he says at the end of the argument, the ideal state shows us the abstract structure which the moral person takes as an ideal to internalize in his aspiration to live a good life. But the ideal state is not the idea which structures the Republic, and the questions Plato asks about the actual world cannot Ancient Philosophy be answered by reference to an ideal state without breaking the back of the work’s argument.

The story of the rise of Plato in England is especially interesting, since there were three phases, each in response to a different philosophical approach. 26 The first English translation of the whole of Plato’s works was made in 1804 by Thomas Taylor. Taylor was a self-educated man for whom Plato was a labour of love in a difficult life, so it is painful to have to say that the translations are awful. Taylor saw Plato’s ideas in the framework of Neoplatonism, a later mystical elaboration of some of Plato’s metaphysical ideas, and the result appealed to Romantic writers, but had influence on Wordsworth’s poems rather than on philosophers.

Ancient philosophy (indeed, philosophy generally) is typically marked by a refusal to leave things opaque and puzzling, to seek to make them clearer and more transparent to reason. Hence reading ancient philosophy tends to engage the reader’s reasoning immediately, to set a dialogue of minds going. Ancient philosophy is sometimes taught as a procession of Great Figures, whose ideas the student is supposed to take in and admire. Nothing could we find that an argument is going on – and that we are being challenged to join in.

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