Philosophy Before Socrates: An Introduction with Texts and Commentary
Richard D. McKirahan
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Since its publication in 1994, Richard McKirahan's Philosophy Before Socrates has become the standard sourcebook in Presocratic philosophy. It provides a wide survey of Greek science, metaphysics, and moral and political philosophy, from their roots in myth to the philosophers and Sophists of the fifth century. A comprehensive selection of fragments and testimonia, translated by the author, is presented in the context of a thorough and accessible discussion. An introductory chapter deals with the sources of Presocratic and Sophistic texts and the special problems of interpretation they present.
In its second edition, this work has been updated and expanded to reflect important new discoveries and the most recent scholarship. Changes and additions have been made throughout, the most significant of which are found in the chapters on the Pythagoreans, Parmenides, Zeno, Anaxagoras, and Empedocles, and the new chapter on Philolaus. The translations of some passages have been revised, as have some interpretations and discussions. A new Appendix provides translations of three Hippocratic writings and the Derveni papyrus.
that all motion of material things is ultimately traceable to the action of Mind (which is only barely material and which cannot move because, being everywhere, it has nowhere to go), and he would doubtless say that when I move myself, a more careful description of the event would make clear that my mind (the small part of the totality of Mind which is in me and constitutes me as a living, sentient and thinking being) is the mover and my material body is the moved. Thus, the basis of Mind’s rule
the 19th century and prevalent until the 1960s—that in each turn of the cycle, a kosmos is created both in the phase marked by increasing Love (that is, the transition phase from the dominance of Strife to the dominance of Love) and in the phase marked by increasing Strife; in effect, the cosmology under increasing Strife is the reverse of what happens under increasing Love. The other camp denies this double cosmogony, and holds that there is only one, which occurs in the phase of increasing
rivals, competing for fame, wealth, and pupils. Their shared interest in rhetoric and related issues led them to develop philosophical theses, and their rivalry led them to challenge each other’s views and formulate competing ones. Their contributions to philosophy are best understood in this light. The Sophists were in the center of late fifth-century intellectual life. The issues they raised and discussed came to be prominent in the minds of all thoughtful people and widely known to the
once have ensouled a human. If it is alive it is at least a distant relative. Any killing is tantamount to murder; eating animals amounts to cannibalism. Empedocles developed this idea in much greater detail23 than can be attributed to the Pythagoreans from early sources, but there is no reasonable doubt that violating this prohibition was the premier form of injustice, which merited punishment after death. There are difficulties about this doctrine, which amounts to a rationalization of the
done. (a) The following indicate what something is. What are the Isles of the Blest? Sun and Moon. What is the oracle at Delphi? The tetractys, which is the harmony in which the Sirens sing. (b) Others indicate what is something in the greatest degree. What is most just? To sacrifice. What is the wisest? Number, and second wisest is the person who assigned names to things. What is the wisest thing in our power? Medicine. What is most beautiful? Harmony. (Iamblichus, Life of Pythagoras 82 = DK