Ancient Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny

By Anthony Kenny

Sir Anthony Kenny right here tells the attention-grabbing tale of the beginning of philosophy and its awesome flourishing within the old Mediterranean global. this can be the preliminary quantity of a four-book set within which Kenny will spread a magisterial new background of Western philosophy, the 1st significant single-author heritage of philosophy to seem in decades.
Ancient Philosophy spans over one thousand years and brings to lifestyles the nice minds of the earlier, from Thales, Pythagoras, and Parmenides, to Socrates, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Augustine. The book's nice advantage is that it really is written by way of one of many world's prime professionals at the topic. rather than an uncritical, elementary recitation of recognized facts--Plato and his cave of shadows, Aristotle's ethics, Augustine's urban of God--we see the key philosophers in the course of the eyes of a guy who has spent an entire life considering their paintings. hence we don't easily get an summary of Aristotle, for instance, yet a penetrating and insightful critique of his concept. Kenny bargains an illuminating account of a number of the faculties of idea, from the Pre-Socratics to the Epicureans. He examines the improvement of common sense and cause, historical principles approximately physics ("how issues happen"), metaphysics and ethics, and the earliest considering the soul and god.
Vividly written, yet critical and deep sufficient to supply a real knowing of the nice philosophers, Kenny's lucid and stimulating background becomes the definitive paintings for an individual drawn to the folk and ideas that formed the process Western inspiration.

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Sometimes these identiWcations of opposites are straightforward statements of the relativity of certain predicates. The most famous, ‘The way up and the way down are one and the same’, sounds very deep. However, it need mean no more than that when, skipping down a mountain, I meet you toiling upward, we are both on the same path. DiVerent things are attractive at diVerent times: food when you are hungry, bed when you are sleepy (KRS 201). DiVerent things attract diVerent species: sea-water is wholesome for Wsh, but poisonous for humans; donkeys prefer rubbish to gold (KRS 199).

But he was perhaps the Wrst philosopher to speak of a divine law—not a physical law, but a prescriptive law, that trumped all human laws. There is a famous passage in Robert Bolt’s play about Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons. More is urged by his son-in-law Roper to arrest a spy, in contravention of the law. ’ More denies, in answer to Roper, that he is setting man’s law above God’s. ’ Roper says that he would cut down every law in England to get at the Devil. ’8 It is diYcult to Wnd chapter and verse in More’s own writings or recorded sayings for this exchange.

The many philosophers in later centuries who have admired Heraclitus have been able to give their own colouring to his paradoxical, chameleon-like dicta. Even in antiquity Heraclitus was found diYcult. L. 9. 6). He wrote a three-book treatise on philosophy—now lost—and deposited it in the great temple of Artemis (St Paul’s ‘Diana of the Ephesians’). People could not make up their minds whether it was a text of physics or a political tract. ‘What I understand of it is excellent,’ Socrates is reported as saying.

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