Ancient Philosophy (A New History of Western Philosophy - by Anthony Kenny

By Anthony Kenny

Sir Anthony Kenny right here tells the interesting tale of the beginning of philosophy and its awesome flourishing within the old Mediterranean international. this can be the preliminary quantity of a four-book set within which Kenny will spread a magisterial new historical past of Western philosophy, the 1st significant single-author background of philosophy to seem in a long time. old Philosophy spans over 1000 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's written via one of many world's major professionals at the topic. rather than an uncritical, ordinary recitation of identified facts--Plato and his cave of shadows, Aristotle's ethics, Augustine's urban of God--we see the foremost philosophers in the course of the eyes of a guy who has spent a life-time considering their paintings. hence we don't easily get an outline of Aristotle, for instance, yet a penetrating and insightful critique of his proposal. Kenny bargains an illuminating account of many of the colleges of suggestion, from the Pre-Socratics to the Epicureans. He examines the advance 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 adequate to supply a real realizing of the nice philosophers, Kenny's lucid and stimulating historical past becomes the definitive paintings for somebody attracted to the folk and ideas that formed the process Western suggestion.

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The human soul is itself Wre: Heraclitus sometimes lists soul, along with earth and water, as three elements. Since water quenches Wre, the best soul is a dry soul, and must be kept from moisture. It is hard to know exactly what counts as moisture in this context, but alcohol certainly does: a drunk, Heraclitus says, is a man led by a boy (KRS 229–31). 7 What Hegel most admired in Heraclitus was his insistence on the coincidence of opposites, such as that the universe is both divisible and indivisible, generated and ungenerated, mortal and immortal.

If we take a chunk of any kind of stuV and divide it up as far as we can, we will have to come to a halt at tiny bodies which are indivisible. We cannot allow matter to be divisible to inWnity: for let us suppose that the division has been carried out and then ask: what would ensue if the division was carried out? If each of the inWnite number of parts has any magnitude, then it must be further divisible, which contradicts our hypothesis. If, on the other hand, the surviving parts have no magnitude, then they can never have amounted to any quantity: for zero multiplied by inWnity is still zero.

66). DiVerent biographical traditions, not all chronologically possible, make Empedocles a pupil of Pythagoras, of Xenophanes, and of Parmenides. Certainly he imitated Parmenides by writing a hexameter poem On Nature; this poem, dedicated to his friend Pausanias, contained about 2,000 lines, of which we possess about a Wfth. He also wrote a religious poem, PuriWcations, 12 The Principles of Mathematics (London: Allen & Unwin, 1903), 347. 20 13 See Ch. 5 below. PYTHAGORAS TO PLATO of which less has been preserved.

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