“Eric Voegelin's Philosophy of Myth” is an introduction to the eminent political philosopher's theory of the nature and function of myth in pre-modern cultures, particularly in ancient Greece and Mesopotamia. For Voegelin archaic myths and symbols provide grounds or foundations for a broad range of phenomena, from individual objects and events to the entire cosmos. They convey a sense of wholeness and interconnectedness through a type of analogical thinking. The concepts of ‘compactness’ and ‘differentiation’ are essential components in his overall (...) theory. The former designates the unity of the symbol and the symbolized, the latter their separation into immanent and transcendent poles in the reflections of Greek philosophers and of Jewish and Christian thinkers. Both compact and differentiated accounts employ the symbols of the Beginning and Beyond, viz. the originating source of all things and their transcendent goal. Voegelin's treatment of the mythical and philosophical styles of truth is not limited to the distant past. Throughout history individual myths or symbols lose their transformative power, but, he asserts, they are regenerated or replaced by new ones discovered by great souls who have experiential access to the underlying realities. (shrink)
This is an old-fashioned and refreshing study that focuses on literary style, rhetoric, irony, and imagery, which Rutherford rightly thinks complement philosophical analysis of Plato. Rutherford draws connections between the dialogues and other genres and styles of writing rather than between Plato and other philosophers. We are invited to pick up these texts, as if for the first time: "the Platonic dialogue is too familiar, too central to the classical tradition, for us to realise how remarkable it must have seemed (...) at first". (shrink)
This magnificent book makes original and unique contributions to the understanding of Aristotle's ethical thought. Sparshott's approach is comprehensive but, unlike S. Broadie's excellent Ethics with Aristotle, it is not systematic: he has written a detailed running commentary on the entire text. However, his "aim is not to argue a thesis about the interpretation of the text as a whole, but to enable the reader to see how it actually goes." This method might seem too modest to the specialist who (...) wants to know Sparshott's views on the perennial topics, but no serious student of the text will read more than a page or two without learning something new. The reasons are simple: Sparshott's ear is uncannily attentive to the least ambiguity in Aristotle's expressions; he meticulously paraphrases, reconstructs, and deciphers every argument and line of thought Aristotle pursues. Lavishing care on such a well-known text might seem overindulgent, but Sparshott shows how many of Aristotle's key terms and concepts are vague or general in scope. In his discussion of book 1, for example, he unpacks the ambiguities in several terms: self-sufficiency does not mean isolation ; ultimacy does not mean termination, but completeness or perfection; and completeness does not mean all-inclusiveness, but concentration on an ideal. Also illuminating is his masterly account of justice, the subject of book 5 of the Ethics. In tracking the broad semantic range of "justice," Sparshott concludes that it is intermediate between a moral and an intellectual virtue, and hence includes both the notions of a fair distribution of things and of the whole of virtue. Sparshott's focus on the genesis of concepts and phrases and his pursuit of the penumbras of meaning that radiate through the text as a whole are the most attractive features of the book. Two additional aspects of this exegesis of terminology are noteworthy. Sparshott reveals more thoroughly than before how deeply rooted in Plato are key Aristotelian concepts and arguments. By extensive reference to the Metaphysics and De anima, Sparshott demonstrates that Aristotle indeed provides a metaphysical foundation for his ethical inquiries. (shrink)
This scintillating collection gathers twelve important papers by Jacques Brunschwig. Dating from 1977 to 1990, all but one have appeared only in French and two are previously unpublished. No justification is required for making these exciting, influential papers available to a wider audience. In each paper Brunschwig focuses on a key problem, a puzzle, or a text that is recalcitrant to interpretation, employing marvelous erudition in classical philology, encyclopedic knowledge of Hellenistic philosophy, and subtle familiarity with contemporary philosophy.
The book is divided into four parts. Part 1 surveys biographical information and the complex philological and doxographical evidence that affect questions about authenticity. Part 2 provides an excellent overview of Philolaus's philosophy that is notable both for its clarity and mastery of the scholarly literature. The heart of the book comes in Part 3, which comprises the genuine fragments and testimonia with elaborate philological and philosophical commentary. The genuine texts are divided into seven groups: Basic Principles, Epistemology, Cosmogony, Astronomy, (...) Embryology and Medicine, Soul and Psychic Faculties, Miscellaneous. Huffman helpfully encapsulates the contemporary Greek philosophical theories on offer in each area of thought. Part 4 includes the Spurious and Doubtful Fragments and Testimonia, an important category given Huffman's rejection of fragments considered genuine by others. (shrink)
BOOK REVIEWS 139 Harold Tarrant. Thrasyllan Platonism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993. Pp. x + 26o. Cloth, $34.5 o. Most contemporary readers of Plato assign the dialogues to early, middle, and late periods. However, developmental schemes exercised much less fascination on Plato's ancient readers, especially those who looked upon him as the fount of wisdom or upon the corpus as a whole as comprising all the higher education a civilized person needed. Such was the case, certainly, with Thrasyllus, the (...) court philosopher and astrologer of the Emperor Tiberius, who arranged the thirty-six dialogues into nine tetralogies. Tarrant's central contention is that Thrasyllus' editorial activity ex- tended well beyond simply "recommending a reading order for an otherwise available collection of Plato's texts" and that he made "available a distinctive collection of texts presented in his own chosen manner" . On this view his edition of the dialogues set standards for authenticity and spuriousness. In.. (shrink)