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Retrieving the Ancients An Introduction to Greek Philosophy

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2023-02-06
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Supplemental Materials

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Provides an accessible introduction to ancient Greek philosophy, enhanced with new features and content

Retrieving the Ancients offers a clear and engaging narrative of one of the most fertile periods in the history of human thought, beginning with the Ionian Philosophers of the sixth century and concluding with the works of Aristotle. Organized chronologically, this student-friendly textbook approaches Greek philosophy as an illuminating conversation in which each key thinker—including Thales, Pythagoras, Democritus, Socrates, and Plato—engages with, responds to, and moves beyond his predecessor. Throughout the text, author David Roochnik highlights how this conversation remains as relevant and urgent to modern readers as ever.

Now in its second edition, Retrieving the Ancients features an entirely new epilogue that introduces Stoicism, Epicureanism, Skepticism, Cynicism, and various schools of thought that emerged after Aristotle, as well as a useful appendix designed to help students write philosophically. This edition offers expanded online teaching resources for instructors, including a downloadable web pack with sample syllabi.

  • Offers a compelling, readable, and humorous introduction to ancient Greek philosophy
  • Approaches the history of ancient Greek philosophy dialectically
  • Illustrates how the works of the ancients are as valuable today as ever
  • Includes an accessible, modern introduction to Hellenistic philosophers, new to this edition

Offering a sophisticated yet accessible account of the first philosophers of the West, Retrieving the Ancients: An Introduction to Greek Philosophy, Second Edition is an ideal textbook for introductory and intermediate undergraduate courses in Ancient Greek Philosophy, as well as general courses in Ancient Philosophy.

Author Biography

DAVID ROOCHNIK is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Boston University. He has published numerous books and articles on ancient Greek philosophy and literature, rhetoric, post-modernism, and the nature of philosophy. His books include Retrieving Aristotle in an Age of Crisis, Thinking Philosophically: An Introduction to the Great Debates, Beautiful City: The Dialectical Character of Plato’s Republic, and Eat, Drink, Think: What Ancient Greece Can Tell Us About Food and Wine.

Table of Contents


Prologue viii

Introduction 1

Two Reasons to Study Ancient Greek Philosophy 1

The Organization and Strategy of This Book 7

1 The Presocratics 11

Preliminaries 11

Before the Beginning: Hesiod 12

The Ionian Philosophers of the Sixth Century 18

a) The Beginning: Thales of Miletus 18

b) The First Debate: Anaximander v. Anaximenes 22

c) Sixth-Century Rationalism: Xenophanes and Pythagoras 26

d) The Crisis of Sixth-Century Philosophy 31

Heraclitus and Parmenides: Extreme Solutions 33

a) Heraclitus: Lover of Flux 33

b) Parmenides: Champion of Being 42

Fifth-Century Elementalism 51

a) Democritus: Atomic Theory 52

b) Empedocles: Evolution 61

c) Anaxagoras 65

2 The Sophists and Socrates 69

A New Beginning: The Sophists 69

Protagoras 71

Gorgias 79

Socrates 83

3 Plato 95

Preliminaries 95

Plato’s Critique of the Presocratics 98

Plato’s Critique of the Sophists 105

a) The “Self-Reference” Argument 106

b) The Reductio ad Absurdum 107

c) “What is it?” 112

d) “The Old Quarrel”: Philosophy v. Sophistry 119

Recollection 120

a) The Phaedo 120

b) The Meno 125

The Divided Line and the Form of the Good 132

a) The Divided Line 132

b) The Form of the Good 138

Eros 140

The Political Implications of the Forms 153

4 Aristotle 167

Preliminaries 167

Aristotle’s Conception of Nature 173

a) “By Nature” 173

b) Form and Matter 182

c) The Four Causes 186

Aristotle’s Psychology 194

Teleological Ethics 208

a) Moral Virtue 208

b) Intellectual Virtue 220

Natural Politics 224

a) The Political Animal 224

b) Best Life; Best City 231

Conclusion 235

Epilogue 241

Appendix 257

References 269

Index 275

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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