Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short by Julia Annas

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By Julia Annas

The culture of old philosophy is a protracted, wealthy and sundry one, during which the notes of debate and argument regularly resound. This e-book introduces historic debates, enticing us with the traditional advancements in their issues. relocating clear of the presentation of historical philosophy as a succession of significant thinkers, the booklet supplies readers a feeling of the freshness and liveliness of old philosophy, and of its wide array of subject matters and kinds. concerning the sequence: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and magnificence, Very brief Introductions provide an advent to a few of life's finest subject matters. Written via specialists for the newcomer, they show the best modern brooding about the principal difficulties and matters in 1000s of key subject matters, from philosophy to Freud, quantum conception to Islam.

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Example text

Virtue is the right pathway to the happy life, but this leaves many options open. Happiness is our overall aim, the goal for whose sake we do and seek everything else, while we don’t seek to be happy for any further reason. Being a virtuous person will matter for this, but surely, we may think, common sense requires that other things matter too – for example, having a reasonable amount of money and other necessities, achieving success and so on. How could a happy life be a completely poverty-stricken and unsuccessful one?

It’s a matter of how you regard your own life. To make the point he tells Prodicus’ story of how the demi-god Heracles, at the start of adult life, came to a crossroads. Two women came along, each urging him to take one of the opposing ways. One was self-consciously fashionable, 36 The sophists ‘Sophists’ is the term used for a number of intellectuals in the fifth century BC who, while they did not form a unified intellectual tradition, represented a new departure. They travelled around various cities, teaching for money a variety of intellectual skills, the most saleable being skills in rhetoric and argument which would give the learner an advantage in public life.

This is quite surprising, since Utilitarian ideas about ethics and metaphysics are almost totally opposed to Plato’s. Nevertheless, it was the circle of John Stuart Mill which revived the idea of Plato as a philosopher for whom arguments are what matter. based on solid scholarship, discussed every dialogue separately with its own theme and purpose, presenting Plato as engaged in an open-ended philosophical search, sometimes dogmatic and sometimes arguing against others without coming to a conclusion himself.

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