From Publishers Weekly
A prominent historian of ancient thought, Pierre Hadot (Philosophy as a Way of Life) revisits the work of Plato, Aristotle, the Hellenistic schools and the philosophical schools of imperial Rome in What Is Ancient Philosophy? He provides an overview of the evolution of ancient thought, focusing particularly on the role of philosophical theory in the lives of the thinkers. Showing how the ancients endeavored to live by their philosophy, Hadot reflects on the rift between theory and practice that came about with the professionalization of philosophy in the Christian era.
From Library Journal
First published in France in 1995, Hadot's overview of ancient philosophy (that is, Greek and Roman philosophy) is quite possibly one of the best one-volume works on the subject to have appeared in English in a very long time, not only for the clarity with which it is written (Chase's translation reads exceptionally smoothly) but also for the point of view Hadot takes. In keeping with Socrates' dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living, Hadot (Philosophy as a Way of Life) places each philosopher or movement discussed firmly within its cultural and intellectual context and shows that philosophy was not simply a process for creating theories but, more importantly, a way of life for many. Hadot argues further that this connection between philosophical theory and practice ultimately broke down when Christianity came to dominate the Western world. Hadot closes the book by pointing to two dangers that the (modern) philosopher must avoid. The first is to think that philosophical discourse is sufficient in itself, without reference to a philosophical way of life. The second, and for Hadot the more important, is "to believe that one can do without philosophical reflection. The philosophical way of life must be justified in rational, motivated discourse, and such discourse is inseparable from the way of life." Hadot eloquently provides such discourse; highly recommended. Terry Skeats, Bishop's Univ. Lib., Lennoxville, Quebec
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