Reviewed by Donald Zeyl , University of Rhode Island. That transformation consists in attaining that super-human, god-like goal of theôria so eloquently embraced in Nicomachean Ethics Book X. The common aim of these exercises was to achieve both a concentration of the self (its separation from anything foreign to it and its separation from the past and the future through ongoing self-examination) and an expansion of the self (its “dilation” of itself to encompass the infinite totality of all that is). Given that the bulk of the surviving texts from antiquity come from the hands of Plato and Aristotle, and given the historical importance of these two philosophers, this amounts to a serious reservation. One might also object to specific interpretive claims made by Hadot. Among the pre-Socratic philosophers (those who were in the limelight before the time of Socrates), he is seen as one of the most sig… In addition, Hadot shows convincingly that these various spiritual goals, differently described in the different schools—for example, for the Epicureans it was a life of stable pleasure achieved by the limitations of one’s appetites while for the Stoics it was a life of self-coherence, lived in conformity to Nature or Reason—all involved the goal of self-transformation. Now many people today would classify these thinkers as scientists rather than philosophers. ”—Michael Frede, Oxford University Eventually Christian interest in pagan philosophy was limited to its discourse, which was pressed into service as the “handmaiden to theology,” even as its spiritual practices were absorbed into, and substantially altered, Christian spirituality. The development of philosophy in the age of the Roman Empire is characterized by two outstanding phenomena. Apology (Paperback) Plato. The Presocratics’ works exist only as excerpts embedded in later writings. Hadot’s answer: it is “the will to do good,” or “the absolute value of moral intent” (pp. At age 17 he was sent to Athens to enroll in Plato's Academy. It is notable, however, that in his study of Aristotle’s Lyceum Hadot makes no mention of spiritual exercises—disciplines or practices engaged in for the sake of achieving self-transformation. Alonzo. This is true not only of the “dogmatists” (Epicureans and Stoics as well as Platonists and Aristotelians, all of whom affirmed positive doctrines) but also of their opponents, the “skeptics,” who recommended the suspension of belief as the proper path to their spiritual goal. From Plato to Foucault, we break down the main ideas in philosophical thought. But that discourse is itself merely the expression of what Hadot takes to be the essence of ancient philosophy which, in his view, is . Christianity positioned itself as a “philosophy” (in Hadot’s sense) with its own regimen of spiritual exercises and spiritual goals, and as this religion came to eclipse the various pagan philosophies, it usurped their spiritual function. Philosophy was used to make sense out of the world using reason. Ancient philosophy was principally pagan, and was finally eclipsed by Christianity in the sixth century ad, but it was so comprehensively annexed by its conqueror that it came, through Christianity, to dominate medieval and Renaissance philosophy. One is startled to read that for Socrates (as depicted by Plato), the “will to do good” is of absolute value, and not the knowledge of the good. Hadot’s general thesis is most easily demonstrated in the cases of the various Hellenistic schools which arose in the late fourth century BCE. [This is the only chapter to which Lady Conway added Notes in this fashion. This life is the life of intellectual pursuits, and Aristotle’s purpose in founding his school was to cultivate a community in which that ideal life was to be lived out to the fullest extent possible. is a wonderful book. Here the evidence is pressed into the Procrustean bed prescribed by the author’s demonstrandum. Both of his parents were members of traditional medical families, and his father, Nicomachus, served as court physician to King Amyntus III of Macedonia. Socrates is himself the very incarnation of philosophy thus understood. Ancient Political Philosophy. Pierre Hadot makes very clear what he thinks it is not: it is not the deposit of philosophical concepts, theories and systems to be found in the surviving texts of Graeco-Roman antiquity, the subject matter of courses of study in the curricula of modern universities. Curious about the major works and figures in the study of the nature of reality and existence? As Hadot sketches the first of these developments, his focus is on the order in which the texts of the founders were taught to the students, as illustrative of the stages in their spiritual formation. Each school had its own set of spiritual exercises designed to lead its adherents to the achievement of its particular version of that goal. It is the figure of Socrates, as “mythically” represented in Plato’s dialogues, who transforms the notion of sophia and hence that of philosophia. The prevailing modern view of limiting philosophy to philosophical discourse is rooted in this usurpation. Accessibility Information. I will use both “city” and “city-state” to refer to the polis, though neither of these nor any English word fully captures its meaning; unlike our “city,” the polis encompassed both an urban area and a rural hinterland, while unlike our “state,” its political identity was not conceived as distinct from the body of active citizens which comprised it. Only a small fraction of ancient philosophical writings have come down to us intact. UNIT 1: The Genesis of Philosophy - Mythology vs. Reason The World Before Philosophy: An Overview of the Ancient World and the beginnings of Greece; The Poetic Traditions of Homer and Hesiod. Despite several “recurrences” of the ancient concept of philosophy in post-Medieval times (discernible, for example, in Montaigne and even in Descartes as well as in Kant’s concept of “cosmic philosophy”) the ancient ideal is now all but lost. Ancient philosophy was principally pagan, and was finally eclipsed by Christianity in the sixth century ad, but it was so comprehensively annexed by its conqueror that it came, through Christianity, to dominate medieval and Renaissance philosophy. And his account of the practice of dialectic within the Academy as a “spiritual exercise which demanded that the interlocutors undergo … self-transformation” (p. 62) is hardly convincing. BEING A little Treatise published since the Author's … © 2021 Informa UK Limited, an Informa Group Company, Egyptian philosophy: influence on ancient Greek thought, Greek philosophy: impact on Islamic philosophy. The author also assumes that for both Plato and Aristotle the state in which the soul apprehends its highest object is supra-discursive (see pp. The idea that Epicurus and Zeno (respectively the founders of Epicureanism and Stoicism) established their schools to create communities which pursued some shared way of life to attain a shared spiritual goal is not new, and Hadot demonstrates very effectively how the physical and epistemological theories of these schools were intended to support their spiritual goals. The Hellenistic Schools (chapter 7). Article Summary Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Western Europe from about ad 400–1400, roughly the period between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance. The second is the eventual decline of Epicureanism and Stoicism and the ascendancy and development of Platonism (synthesized with Aristotelianism in the Neoplatonism of Plotinus) as the dominant philosophy of late antiquity. Neoplatonism, the second development, raised the spiritual aspirations of its adherents to new heights. Humanism has been the chief attribute of Chinese philosophy. Chinese Philosophy refers to any of several schools of philosophical thought in the Chinese tradition, including Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism, Buddhism and Mohism (see below for brief introductions to these schools). Starting with a group of thinkers in ancient Greece, more than 2,500 years ago. This existential option, in turn, implies a certain vision of the world, and the task of philosophical discourse will therefore be to reveal and rationally to justify this existential option, as well as this representation of the world” (p. 3). This is the initial volume of a four-book set in which Kenny will unfold a magisterial new history of Western philosophy, the first major single-author history of philosophy to appear in decades. What is ancient philosophy? We find proto-scientific explanations of the natural world in the Milesian thinkers, and we hear Democritus posit … Its greatest figures are Socrates (fifth century bc) and Plato and Aristotle (fourth century bc). Readers familiar with Hadot’s Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Blackwell, 1995) will recognize in this work a reprise and elaboration of much of the argument of that earlier work. He assumes but fails to show, however, that Plato’s lofty descriptions of the philosophical life formed the basis or goal of a regimen of spiritual exercises, regularly practiced by members of the Academy and intended to enable them to achieve a particular state of the soul. Miletus, the southernmost Ionian city, was the wealthiest of Greek cities and the main focus of the “Ionian awakening”, a name for the initial phase of classical Greek civilization, coincidental with the birth of Greek philosophy.The first group of Greek philosophers is a triad of Milesian … All these exercises have as their aim the transformation of the self. Copyright © 2021 Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews Any student of philosophy will want to be familiar with key figures like Plato, Kant, Descartes, Locke, Nietzsche, Marx, Confucius, Sartre; as well as great works such as The Republic, Beyond Good and Evil, Meditations, and more. According to his biographer Porphyry, “for Plotinus the goal and the end consisted of union with the supreme deity and the process of growing closer to him” (quoted on p. 160), and Porphyry reports several instances of Plotinus achieving this unity in non-discursive, mystical unitive experiences. If so, the concept of a “spiritual exercise” is stretched far too thin; if not, then the absence of a regimen of such exercises from the intellectual/spiritual life of the Lyceum constitutes a significant exception to Hadot’s main thesis. Given that the research programs Aristotle assigned to his students were in large part empirical investigations, how is such research connected with theôria, which is the contemplative understanding of divinity? The word philosophy means “the love of wisdom” in Greek.Ancient Greek philosophy was the attempt made by some ancient Greeks to make sense out of the world around them, and explain things in a non-religious way.These people, called philosophers, used their intelligence and reasoning skills instead of using myths to understand their world. College of Arts and Letters Starting from the simplest and most evident truths, Descartes sought to deduce all of knowledge from basic and indubitable principles. “Each commentary was considered a spiritual exercise … because the reading of each philosophical text was supposed to produce a transformation in the person reading or listening to the commentary” (p. 155). Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2001. Ancient philosophy wasn’t just individual self help. According to Hadot, Plato’s goal in founding the Academy was the creation of “an intellectual and spiritual community whose job it would be to train new human beings … (p. 59). The remainder can be recovered, to a greater or lesser extent, by piecing together fragmentary evidence from sources which refer to them. Report abuse. way of life. His poems and thoughts have always seemed to be significantly influenced by the philosopher Xenophanes, leading most historians to believe that he must have been his pupil. To achieve this aim various “spiritual exercises” mentioned in several Platonic dialogues including, notably, the practice of death in the Phaedo (64a) and the (practice of?) 32–36). The program of training and research in the Academy from the various branches of mathematics to dialectic had primarily an ethical aim, which was to purify the mind and to “learn to live in a philosophical way … to ensure … a good life and thereby the ’salvation’ of the soul” (p. 65). An example of an important text o… Philosophy. About 600 BCE, the Greek cities of Ionia were the intellectual and cultural leaders of Greece and the number one sea-traders of the Mediterranean. Now, philosophy is a term that gets used in lots of different ways. Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, at a time when the ancient inhabitants of ancient Greece were struggling to repel devastating invasions from the east. This article is not so much an examination of theology or the philosophy of religion. In the author’s own words, “Philosophical discourse … originates in a choice of life and an existential option—not vice-versa … . Hadot credits the rise of Christianity with the decline of philosophy practiced as a way of life. Practical, moral, and political concerns have been favoured over metaphysical speculation as Chinese philosophy tends to be concerned with worldly affairs.This does not mean that metaphysical ideas are absent from Chinese thought. Ethical and political discussions have overshadowed any metaphysical speculation. Parmenides was a known follower of Pythagoras, another renowned figure in the philosophical paradigm of ancient Greece. For all subsequent Western philosophy consists in attaining that super-human, god-like of. Aristotle ( fourth century bc to the achievement of its particular version of that goal the organizing principle Plotinus., there is often an explicit preference for the purposes of this course Nicomachean Ethics X... 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