The Greek Philosophers from Thales to Aristotle

The Greek Philosophers from Thales to Aristotle

W. K. C. Guthrie

Language: English

Pages: 156

ISBN: 0415522285

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


With an new foreword by James Warren

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

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

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

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that there might be a permanent and knowable reality outside and beyond the physical world. The lifeblood of philosophy is controversy. Once its first beginnings are past, any new development usually represents a reaction from previous thought. This is true of the greatest of the Greeks – Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. That is why it is worth spending some time, as we are doing, on their immediate predecessors in order to understand the springs of their own thought, and for the same purpose it

If hot and cold, sweet and bitter, have no existence in nature but are simply a matter of how we feel at the time, then, it was argued, must we not suppose that justice and injustice, right and wrong, have an equally subjective and unreal existence? There can be in nature no absolute principles governing the relations between man and man. It is all a question of how you look at it. The sceptical standpoint of the Sophists may be illustrated by quotations from the two best-known and most

reflected in the fairy-tale beginning: ‘Once upon a time’), but any other interpretation would be inconsistent with Protagoras’s views on religion as stated elsewhere. 1 For an understanding of Socrates, the excellent article of Professor R. Hackforth in Philosophy, vol. VIII (1933) is especially to be recommended. 1 Lest any reader be taken aback by this simile, on the grounds that the Greeks knew nothing of electricity, I had better explain that the object of comparison was the stingray

wisdom that is almost divine, for if they are to direct the State towards the good they must know the truth and not merely its shadow. That is to say, they must recover the knowledge of the perfect Idea of which all the goodness in this world is but a pale, unsteady reflection. Hence the long and rigorous discipline which they have to undergo before they are adjudged fit to rule. A preliminary education up to seventeen or eighteen is to be followed by three years of physical and military

rules which, having been arrived at empirically, will probably work. ‘The present inquiry does not aim at knowledge like our others. Its object is not that we may know what virtue is, but that we may become virtuous.’ The words seem deliberately chosen to make Socrates turn in his grave. We must not therefore expect the same certainty to attach to our results in ethical questions, nor demand the same rigorousness of proof as in scientific subjects. ‘It is the duty of an educated man to aim at

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