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Not Not To Be

Malcolm Schofield: Aristotle’s legacy

17 February 2005
A New History of Western Philosophy. Vol. I: Ancient Philosophy 
by Anthony Kenny.
Oxford, 341 pp., £17.99, June 2005, 0 19 875273 3
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... been raising questions that one way or another remain with us, and discussing them in terms that can stimulate contemporary philosophising. To be sure, not many philosophers these days write about Plato, Aristotle and the rest unless they are specialists, any more than they publish books on ethics if their main interest is philosophy of science or 18th-century British philosophy. But they still tend ...
21 August 1980
The Victorians and Ancient Greece 
by Richard Jenkyns.
Blackwell, 386 pp., £15, June 1980, 0 631 10991 9
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... of character: but he had the finest feeling for Greek and the most delicate appreciation of Sophoclean art. In philosophy the most important feature of the Greek revival was the renewed influence of Plato, which in Germany received a powerful impetus from the work of Schleiermacher. The first English thinker to reflect the Continental trend was Coleridge (although the isolated figure of Thomas Taylor ...

What, even bedbugs?

Jonathan Barnes: Demiurge at Work

5 June 2008
Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity 
by David Sedley.
California, 269 pp., £17.95, January 2008, 978 0 520 25364 3
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... thesis implies neither that the creator created ex nihilo, nor that the world was created at some time in the past. The book proceeds more or less chronologically: Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Socrates, Plato, the Atomists, Aristotle, the Stoics. (An epilogue spends a page or two on Galen.) The final score is Creationists 5, Critics 2. Many scholars have thought that one of the achievements of the ...
23 July 1992
The End of History and the Last Man 
by Francis Fukuyama.
Hamish Hamilton, 418 pp., £20, March 1992, 0 241 13013 1
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... why, according to Fukuyama, readers of the London Review of Books are in a position to live happily ever after, we need first to understand human nature. To do that we open the fourth book of Plato’s Republic, where we learn that the human soul consists of three parts. The appetitive part houses the desires for food, drink and sex which must be satisfied if life is to continue. The middle ...

Surplusage!

Elizabeth Prettejohn: Walter Pater

27 January 2020
The Collected Works of Walter Pater, Vol. III: Imaginary Portraits 
edited by Lene Østermark-Johansen.
Oxford, 359 pp., £115, January 2019, 978 0 19 882343 8
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The Collected Works of Walter Pater, Vol. IV: Gaston de Latour 
edited by Gerald Monsman.
Oxford, 399 pp., £115, January 2019, 978 0 19 881616 4
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Walter Pater: Selected Essays 
edited by Alex Wong.
Carcanet, 445 pp., £18.99, September 2018, 978 1 78410 626 3
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... study of Pater was crucial to the genesis of reception theory at the University of Konstanz in the 1960s.Pater reportedly told his students that ‘the great thing is to read authors whole; read Plato whole; read Kant whole; read Mill whole.’ Yet it has scarcely been possible to read Pater himself whole. The ten-volume Library Edition, first published in 1910 by Pater’s original publisher ...
18 February 1982
... Of the essays collected and excellently translated in Dissemination, the best example of Derrida’s own practice of the deconstructive criticism he fathered is ‘Plato’s Pharmacy’.* Here he pursues his question why the metaphysical tradition from Plato to the present subordinates writing to speech. Derrida is not claiming to reverse Plato and to subordinate ...

A Kind of Integrity

Jonathan Barnes

6 November 1986
Philosophical Apprenticeships 
by Hans-Georg Gadamer, translated by Robert Sullivan.
MIT, 198 pp., £13.95, October 1985, 0 262 07092 8
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The Idea of the Good in Platonic-Aristotelian Philosophy 
by Hans-Georg Gadamer, translated by Christopher Smith.
Yale, 182 pp., £18, June 1986, 0 300 03463 6
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... own practice appears to fit this picture: most of his early writings were, in fact, of a scholarly and exegetical nature – they were mostly concerned to elucidate aspects of the thought of Plato and Aristotle. And Gadamer’s own conception of practical philosophy derives from Aristotle, while of Plato he says that ‘insofar as they are my constant companions, I have been formed more by the ...

Tick-Tock

Malcolm Bull: Three Cheers for Apocalypse

9 December 1999
Conversations about the End of Time 
by Umberto Eco and Stephen Jay Gould.
Allen Lane, 228 pp., £14.99, September 1999, 0 7139 9363 4
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Apocalypses: Prophesies, Cults and Millennial Beliefs throughout the Ages 
by Eugen Weber.
Hutchinson, 294 pp., £18.99, July 1999, 0 09 180134 6
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Messianic Revolution: Radical Religious Politics to the End of the Second Millennium 
by Richard Popkin and David Katz.
Allen Lane, 303 pp., £18.99, October 1999, 0 7139 9383 9
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... tradition by comparing the ways in which apocalyptic and imperial writers use similar material. In this respect, an illuminating comparison is provided by Daniel (the first canonical apocalypse) and Plato (whose vision of a state founded on a timeless heavenly pattern is, in Kermode’s sense, imperial) for both make use of the same myth. No one knows exactly where the myth of the ages came from, but ...

From Plato​ to Nato

Christopher Norris

7 July 1983
Literary Theory: An Introduction 
by Terry Eagleton.
Blackwell, 244 pp., £15, May 1983, 0 631 13258 9
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Essays on Fiction 1971-82 
by Frank Kermode.
Routledge, 227 pp., £9.95, May 1983, 0 7100 9442 6
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Deconstructive Criticism: An Advanced Introduction 
by Vincent Leitch.
Hutchinson, 290 pp., £15, January 1983, 0 09 150690 5
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Readings and Writings: Semiotic Counter-Strategies 
by Peter Wollen.
Verso, 228 pp., £15, March 1983, 0 86091 055 5
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Knowing the Poor: A Case-Study in Textual Reality Construction 
by Bryan Green.
Routledge, 221 pp., £12.95, February 1983, 0 7100 9282 2
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... history and politics. Deconstruetion collapses the whole of Western intellectual tradition into a single, timeless ‘logo-centric’ delusion, a suprahistorical ideology existing all the way ‘from Plato to Nato’ Kermode and Eagleton have, this much in common: a mistrust of theories which assimilate history to an endless, ungrounded play of textual significations. It is equally clear where they ...
18 April 1996
... training. In a formal and unappealing way, it is too hard, and in being too hard, it has betrayed its promise of human helpfulness. This, too, is an old complaint, which goes back at least to Plato’s time, and in that fact there is a considerable irony. Plato is a hero of those who claim the human importance of philosophy, and rightly so; indeed, if he does not speak (rightly or wrongly) to ...

Good for nothing

Alasdair MacIntyre

3 June 1982
Iris Murdoch: Work for the Spirit 
by Elizabeth Dipple.
Methuen, 356 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 9780416312904
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... in the novel, it either kills the novel, or the novel gets up and walks away with the nail!’ Hence Lawrence’s conclusion that only the novel can now do for us what philosophy once aspired to do: Plato’s Dialogues were queer little novels. It seems to me that it was the greatest pity in the world when philosophy and fiction got split. They used to be one, right from the days of myth. Then they ...

Rapture

Patrick Parrinder

5 August 1993
The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony 
by Roberto Calasso, translated by Tim Parks.
Cape, 403 pp., £19.99, June 1993, 9780224030373
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... questioned until our own time. In ancient Athens, however, fewer than two hundred years separate Pisistratus, who established the text of Homer and prescribed it for study in the schools, from Plato, whose ideal curriculum banished mythological study. Plato argues in the Republic that, since only good can come from the gods, the traditional tales of the Greek gods and heroes cannot be true; and ...

Are we any better?

Gisela Striker

19 August 1993
Shame and Necessity 
by Bernard Williams.
California, 254 pp., £25, May 1993, 0 520 08046 7
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... ideas alleged by philosophers and theologians to mark a decisive improvement. The Greeks of Williams’s study are those of the Homeric period and of fifth-century Athens: that is, the Greeks before Plato and before the beginning of systematic philosophy. His main sources are Homer and the tragedians, especially Sophocles. No one doubts that these authors can inform us about the ethical ideas of their ...

The View from Here and Now

Thomas Nagel: A Tribute to Bernard Williams

11 May 2006
The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy 
by Bernard Williams, edited by Myles Burnyeat.
Princeton, 393 pp., £26.95, March 2006, 0 691 12477 9
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In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument 
by Bernard Williams, edited by Geoffrey Hawthorn.
Princeton, 174 pp., £18.95, October 2005, 0 691 12430 2
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Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline 
edited by Bernard Williams and A.W. Moore.
Princeton, 227 pp., £22.95, January 2006, 0 691 12426 4
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... an absorbing interest in and admiration for Nietzsche, whose philosophical method of historical self-interpretation he more or less adopted. Yet he always retained an unsurpassed admiration for Plato, whose ‘discontent with the finite’ and hope that philosophy could lift us to a pure and timeless reality represents the polar opposite view. Williams loved Plato both for his powerful expression ...

Mere Life or More Life?

Glen Newey: Bad Arguments

14 July 2011
Great Books, Bad Arguments: ‘Republic’, ‘Leviathan’ and ‘The Communist Manifesto’ 
by W.G. Runciman.
Princeton, 127 pp., £13.95, March 2010, 978 0 691 14476 4
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Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy 
by Bonnie Honig.
Princeton, 197 pp., £15.95, August 2011, 978 0 691 15259 2
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... Here are the nominees for the greatest bad argument in political theory. They are: Thomas Hobbes, for Leviathan; Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, for The Communist Manifesto; and Plato, for the Republic. Why them? Each of the candidates is hallowed as a Penguin Classic. Each has been foisted on freshman generations in Pol Phil 101. And each could be thought to exemplify, after a ...

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