Rationality in Greek Thought

Rationality in Greek Thought

Rationality in Greek Thought

Rationality in Greek Thought


This book, a collection of specially written essays by leading international scholars, reexamines ancient ideas of reason and rationality. The application of changing notions of rationality down the ages has led to consistent misinterpretation of standard ancient philosophical texts: the distinguished contributors here redress the balance, clarifying how the great thinkers of antiquity themselves conceived of rationality.


In the summer of 1991 the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin provided us with the opportunity to invite a group of friends and colleagues to a week-long seminar, during which we read and discussed papers on various aspects of rationality in Greek thought. At the end of five days of lively discussion, the participants agreed to revise their papers in the light of criticism and suggestions, and to try to publish them together.

We are grateful to all those who have made this project possible: to the Wissenschaftskolleg for providing help with the organization and, above all, ideal surroundings for our discussions, formal and informal; and to the Otto-und-Martha-Fischbeck-Stiftung for generous financial support. We were pleased that Oxford University Press agreed to publish the collection, and we would like in particular to thank Peter Momtchiloff and Robert Ritter for their patience and efficiency in seeing the volume through the Press. Thanks are also due to Marcus Quintanilla for assisting us with preparing the contributions for publication.

Philosophy and philosophical scholarship are greatly indebted to Günther Patzig--for his work on Kant, on Frege, on ethics and applied ethics, and in particular for his work on ancient philosophy, which combines in exemplary fashion historical and philological scholarship of the highest order with a robust yet acute and subtle sense of the philosophical problems and issues involved, and how they might best be handled. His book on Aristotle's syllogistic transformed the discussion; it will retain a place of honour in the history of scholarship and continue to serve as a model long after its results have been absorbed, modified, or even sometimes discarded by later research.

The editors of this volume owe a special debt of gratitude to Günther Patzig. It is to him in large part that they owe their academic training and, more importantly, a sense of the values involved. Conspicuous among the beliefs Günther Patzig managed to instil in his students was the belief, perhaps even faith, in reason--the belief that rationality was a matter of painstaking, detailed, minute reflection and hard intellectual work; that it . . .

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