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Classical Philosophy

Edited by Terence Irwin

Publication Date - February 2000

ISBN: 9780192892539

448 pages


Classical Philosophy introduces students to several of the essential philosophical questions raised by the Greek and Roman philosophers of classical antiquity. Featuring a thematic--as opposed to chronological--structure, this Oxford Reader focuses on philosophical problems and ideas rather than on historical circumstances. Selections from the writings of ancient philosophers--some new translations--are interspersed with Terence Irwin's incisive commentary, and at times with contributions from modern philosophers. Topics covered include natural philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, the soul, free will, moral philosophy, political philosophy, and religious belief. A general introduction places philosophers and schools into historical context for students.

About the Author(s)

Terence Irwin is Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University. His books include Plato's Ethics (1995), Aristotle's First Principles (1988), Classical Thought (1988), and editions of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Plato's Gorgias.


"Excellent, creative, new structure for teaching Ancient Philosophy! Finally, someone is brave enough to break away from the old tired paradigm of chronological surveys. Chapters are well-organized into interesting, pivotal topics with easy format for creating debates. Also, Irwin is to be praised for incorporating Stoic, Epicurian, and Skeptic responses to Plato and Aristotle. Well done!"--Daryl L.Hale, Western Carolina University

"The best way to understand past philosophers and their preoccupations is to read them. In this fine collection, Professor Irwin makes that possible across a broad range of issues in ancient philosophy. His clear, well-informed, and penetrating commentary will be of immense help to those new to the texts."--Roger Crisp, St. Anne's College, Oxford

"An exceptionally useful source, this volume will meet a variety of pedagogical needs....Irwin's philosophical explorations are crisp, lucid, and economical; and his ample translations of primary sources achieve an admirable balance between the sometimes competing demands of accuracy and accessibility. Students will be hard pressed to find anything to rival this work for its comprehensiveness, clarity, or sheer philosophical acumen."--Christopher Shields, University of Colorado at Boulder

"This is a unique approach to the study of classical thought, one that gives beginning students far more help than they ordinarily receive from existing collections of historical texts."--Richard Kraut, Northwestern University

"[Irwin's] analysis of the topics and his presentation of primary and secondary readings is lucid and fairminded, drawing on his expertise in a way that is genuinely helpful to beginners in the subject....I find it difficult to imagine how this ambitious project could have been better executed."--Christopher Gill, University of Exeter

Table of Contents

    I. Introduction
    II. Nature, Change, and Cause: Natural Philosophy before Plato
    III. Origins of Skepticism: Knowledge and Belief in Early Greek Philosophy
    IV. Knowledge and Belief: From Socrates to Skepticism
    V. Knowledge, Belief and Forms: Socrates and Plato
    VI. Form and Matter: Aristotle and Stoicism
    VII. Knowledge and Belief: Answers to Skepticism
    VIII. Soul and Body
    IX. Free Will
    X. Good, Pleasure, and Happiness
    XI. Knowledge and Desire in Virtue
    XII. The Good of Others
    XIII. Virtue and Happiness
    XIV. Political Theory
    XV. Philosophy and Theology.
    Further Reading
    Source Acknowledgments
    Index of Authors and Texts
    General Index