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Presocratics: Natural Philosophers before Socrates (Ancient Philosophies) Hardcover – August 7, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"An excellent book and a pleasure to read. Readers are encouraged to engage with the judiciously chosen material, and Warren makes the Presocratics stimulating and exciting. An ideal book for an undergraduate class."—Steven Makin

"James Warren's new book is an attractive and worthwhile addition to the literature on Presocratic thought currently available to students. Among its greatest assets are a splendid 'introduction to reading Presocratic philosophy'; excellent chapters on the Milesians, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, and Empedocles; engagement with the most recent scholarly literature; clarity of expression; and a focus on the philosophically interesting question."—J. H. Lesher, University of North Carolina

About the Author

James Warren is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge and is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
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Product Details

  • Series: Ancient Philosophies (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 235 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520253671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520253674
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,700,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By H. Baltussen on May 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you were ever curious about the Presocratics --the modern name for a group of ancient Greek philosophers, most of whom lived before Socrates--, this is an excellent place to start. Warren has written an engaging and lucid work, that explains the thought of these 'first philosophers' in the Western tradition very well. His introductory chapter on how we know about them (fragmentary texts in a range of later authors, not all sympathetic) and what this means for how we should read them is illuminating. His eye for significant details and good sense of illustrative examples make this a great help for students and anyone wanting to take a peak at some of the famous figures who stand at the beginning of the rational world view. No other introduction since Hussey (1972) manages to pack so much into such a short book and make it so readable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ethan R. Longhenry on February 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
A helpful introduction to the Greek philosophers known as the "Presocratics," mostly before the time of Socrates, focused primarily on matters of natural philosophy.

The author does well at showing what can be known from the fragments preserved from the Presocratics: Thales, Anaximenes, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Zeno and Melissus, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Democritus and Leucippus, Philolaus, and Diogenes of Apollonia. He describes what can be known of their philosophies and the questions with which they grappled.

Even though the material can sometimes be challenging, the author does well at explaining the issues in a way most people will be able to understand. One is struck at how the issues discussed within philosophy from the beginning, in many ways, continue to the present day; the same basic issues about our reality and how we perceive that reality are discussed by later Greek philosophers and such discussions continue until now.

Therefore, the book is quite useful and relevant for the modern day reader. Worth consideration.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Pakaluk on November 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully insightful book and, in my opinion, the best introduction to the presocratics, among a fine field. It of interest both to the beginner and the expert.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cornell on January 30, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Getting back to the basics that came from ancient Greece.

This book is an excellent introduction to a time where I wish I could have experienced first hand. The Presocratics is where a certain type of intellectualism took a turn for the better. These men helped started it all, and some of the names might not be very familiar to you, but once you realize how important they were to the works of philosophical legends such as Plato and Aristotle, you'll see why the Presocratics should be studied. Did these philosophers pave the way for future philosophy? Of course! This is where talks of metaphysics began to gain some ground.

I used to think that the Presocratics were just a waste of time when studying philosophy, but now I've changed my mind. One philosopher in particular is Zeno who is known for Zeno's paradoxes. The paradox of Achilles and the tortoise is still of importance to arguments that we see taking place now in academia. William Lane Craig uses an argument for an actual infinite being something that cannot exist and this debate seems to go back to Zeno. This book goes over refutations to Zeno around his time, and one noticeable is Aristotle's. One thing that sticks out here is the fact that much of what we know from Zeno comes from Aristotle's metaphysics, as the works of Zeno along with many of the presocratics have a lot of their material being cited from later philosophers.

Parmenides and Heraclitus are probably the two most well known philosophers, and it seems as though the principle of sufficient reason (a metaphysical principle that I defend frequently) has much of its roots in Parmenides. Heraclitus had an interesting outlook on reality and showed much interest in fire as being a crucial substance with respect to things that exist.
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By hau p. nguyen on January 26, 2015
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great
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