Knowledge, Nature, and the Good: Essays on Ancient Philosophy

Knowledge, Nature, and the Good: Essays on Ancient Philosophy

Knowledge, Nature, and the Good: Essays on Ancient Philosophy

Knowledge, Nature, and the Good: Essays on Ancient Philosophy

Synopsis

Knowledge, Nature, and the Goodbrings together some of John Cooper's most important works on ancient philosophy. In thirteen chapters that represent an ideal companion to the author's influentialReason and Emotion, Cooper addresses a wide range of topics and periods--from Hippocratic medical theory and Plato's epistemology and moral philosophy, to Aristotle's physics and metaphysics, academic scepticism, and the cosmology, moral psychology, and ethical theory of the ancient Stoics. Almost half of the pieces appear here for the first time or are presented in newly expanded, extensively revised versions. Many stand at the cutting edge of research into ancient ethics and moral psychology. Other chapters, dating from as far back as 1970, are classics of philosophical scholarship on antiquity that continue to play a prominent role in current teaching and scholarship in the field. All of the chapters are distinctive for the way that, whatever the particular topic being pursued, they attempt to understand the ancient philosophers' views in philosophical terms drawn from the ancient philosophical tradition itself (rather than from contemporary philosophy). Through engaging creatively and philosophically with the ancient texts, these essays aim to make ancient philosophical perspectives freshly available to contemporary philosophers and philosophy students, in all their fascinating inventiveness, originality, and deep philosophical merit. This book will be treasured by philosophers, classicists, students of philosophy and classics, those in other disciplines with an interest in ancient philosophy, and anyone who seeks to understand philosophy in philosophical terms.

Excerpt

In reason and emotion (Princeton, 1999) I collected most of the papers on ancient ethics and moral psychology that I had written up to that time. By then I had also published a number of essays on other aspects of ancient philosophy. in the meantime I have written further essays both on ancient moral philosophy and on ancient epistemology, metaphysics and physics, and philosophy of mind. Since these have appeared in a widely dispersed set of journals, proceedings, and specialist collections, and even though several of them have been reprinted in anthologies, friends and colleagues have urged me to bring them together in this second volume of essays. By doing so, I hope to give readers easier access to the older papers, which continue to be read in courses and seminars, and which are reprinted here with no substantial changes. But I also include revised and expanded final versions of four of the most recent papers (chapters 1, 7, 9, and 11). One paper, chapter 13, appears here for the first time.

These thirteen essays are on diverse topics from different periods of ancient philosophy. the topics range from Hippocratic medical theory and Plato's epistemology and moral philosophy to Aristotle's physics and metaphysics, Academic skepticism, and the cosmology, moral psychology, and ethical theory of the ancient Stoics. They are unified only insofar as, throughout, I have attempted, whatever the particular topic being pursued, to understand and appreciate the ancient philosophers' views in philosophical terms drawn from the ancient philosophical tradition itself (rather than by bringing to them, and interpreting them in terms of, contemporary philosophical concepts and debates). Through engaging creatively and philosophically with the ancient philosophers' views, these essays aim to make ancient philosophical perspectives available in all their freshness, originality, and deep, continuing, philosophical interest to philosophers and philosophy students of the current day. I am certainly not alone nowadays in adopting such a personal point of view in my writing about ancient philosophy. I am pleased to think that by presenting these papers to a wider public than the specialist audiences to which they were addressed in their original places of publication, I can hope to help both to propagate this approach to the study of ancient philosophy and to gain appreciation for its fruits among the philosophical community in general.

These essays are the product of more than thirty-five years' work on problems of ancient logic, metaphysics, physics, moral psychology, and ethical and political theory. I owe too much to too many people over . . .

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