Aristotle's Categories can easily seem to be a statement of a naïve, pre-philosophical ontology, centered around ordinary items. Wolfgang-Rainer Mann argues that the treatise, in fact, presents a revolutionary metaphysical picture, one Aristotle arrives at by (implicitly) criticizing Plato and Plato's strange counterparts, the "Late-Learners" of the Sophist. As Mann shows, the Categories reflects Aristotle's discovery that ordinary items are things (objects with properties). Put most starkly, Mann contends that there were no things before Aristotle. The author's argument consists of (...) two main elements. First, a careful investigation of Plato which aims to make sense of the odd-sounding suggestion that things do not show up as things in his ontology. Secondly, an exposition of the theoretical apparatus Aristotle introduces in the Categories--an exposition which shows how Plato's and the Late-Learners' metaphysical pictures cannot help but seem inadequate in light of that apparatus. In doing so, Mann reveals that Aristotle's conception of things--now so engrained in Western thought as to seem a natural expression of common sense--was really a hard-won philosophical achievement. Clear, subtle, and rigorously argued, The Discovery of Things will reshape our understanding of some of Aristotle's--and Plato's--most basic ideas. (shrink)
After briefly considering Plato’s objections to rhetoric—it disregards the truth, aiming only to persuade, and it manipulates our emotions rather than instructing us—I turn to the historical Gorgias. The ‘Encomium of Helen’ ascribes to logos virtually all-powerful capacities for persuasion, seduction, and even bewitchment. Here Gorgias celebrates the very things Plato rejects. Yet in the ‘Defense of Palamedes’ considerable anxieties about whether logos actually does possess such strength are voiced: the weakness, not the power, of logos comes to occupy center (...) stage. Gorgias’ own views thus are likely more complex than Plato allows. (shrink)
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy is a volume of original articles on all aspects of ancient philosophy. The articles may be of substantial length, and include critical notices of major books. OSAP is now published twice yearly, in both hardback and paperback.
The dissertation has two parts. In Part I, I argue that the method of question and answer, that is, dialectic, had its origins not, as Plato and Aristotle might lead us to expect, with Zeno or Socrates, but with the Sophists of the fifth century. They were at the vanguard of a new rationalism that made matters which tradition had regarded as settled, subjects for debate and inquiry. They were committed to a self-consciously rationalistic conception of the arts that held (...) that expertise is a matter of rationally grounded knowledge and hence teachable. ;Of particular importance, especially in democracies, and central to their educational program was the art of rhetoric, that is, the art of rational deliberation and argumentation. It is as part of the instruction in this art that dialectic first emerges. Dialectic is a method subject to specific rules , it provides for at least two roles , and provides criteria for judging who has won a question-and-answer exchange. ;In Part II, I examine Plato's Protagoras. I focus on two sorts of passages: those where the participants seem to be engaged in such a question-and-answer exchange, and those where they comment on what they are doing. Examination of the text leads to the conclusion that both Socrates and Protagoras proceed as if this method of argumentation were antecedently familiar, and Socrates and Protagoras both ask and answer questions in accord with its rules. Thus the difference between Socrates and the Sophists cannot consist in their relying on essentially different methods of argumentation . ;I end by suggesting that if there is a difference between Socrates and the Sophists, it consists in Socrates making explicit what the Sophists had been relying on, though only imperfectly: a commitment to the avoidance of contradictions. (shrink)
Reviewers greeted the first edition of this volume with enthusiasm and gratitude. Annas and Barnes made available something long needed: a modern translation into English, thoroughly informed by recent developments in the scholarly and philosophical discussion of Hellenistic philosophy, of Sextus Empiricus’ Pyrrôneioi, Hypotypôseis, the Outlines of Pyrrhonism. Moreover, Annas and Barnes augmented their translation with three useful features.
A new approach to the historiography of the history of philosophy was first proposed near the end of the eighteenth century. It is useful to regard it as an alternative to two others, sometimes conceived of as exhausting the possibilities: a purely philosophical approach, and a purely historical one, both of which I consider in section I. The bulk of the paper is devoted to what I call "the modern historiography of the history of philosophy" . Its origins are closely (...) tied to the renewal of philology. Section III recounts the methodological innovations of the New Philology and their relevance for approaching texts--including philosophical ones--from the past. In section IV, I consider some moves made by early proponents of "modern historiography"--in particular their implicit demand for an internal rather than an external history of philosophy, that is, an account that allows us to understand how and why philosophy has changed through time, in terms of philosophical factors: how, for example, one set of philosophical considerations led to a certain view; how reflecting on that view led philosophers to perceive various difficulties, and to perceive philosophical responses to those difficulties, and so on. The goal is to exclude, to as great an extent as possible, external factors, that is, factors which are not themselves philosophical views or arguments. In section V, I turn to Christian A. Brandis whose methodological reflections and historiographical practice mark an enormous advance over his predecessors and even over some of his successors, like W. Jaeger. I conclude by arguing that some "philosophical" objections brought against the way of proceeding advocated by Brandis fail. In the course of describing this new approach and its origins, I hope also to make clear why it is more attractive than the two other possibilities briefly considered in section I. (shrink)