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Ancient Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume I 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198752721
ISBN-10: 0198752725
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"This genial and highly accessible book...presents and analyses with exemplary clarity the most important ideas and arguments ancient philosophers contributed to the main fields of philosophical inquiry.... The range, beauty, and often the unexpectedness of the illustrations are one of the triumphs of the volume." --Malcolm Schofield, London Review of Books


About the Author


Sir Anthony Kenny is one of Britain's most distinguished academic figures. He has been Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Master of Balliol College, Chairman of the Board of the British Library, and President of the British Academy. He has published more than forty books on philosophy and history.
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Product Details

  • Series: New History of Western Philosophy (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198752725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198752721
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By not me VINE VOICE on January 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure whether beginners will enjoy or get very much from this survey of ancient philosophy. There's no doubt that the author, Anthony Kenny, writes clearly, knows ancient philosophy, and leavens his text with wit and style. But his talents and good intentions are defeated by the structure of the book. After providing a brief chronological overview of philosophers and schools in the ancient world, Kenny divides his book into topics such as Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and God. This thematic treatment makes it almost impossible for the reader to get a well-rounded view of individual philosophers (such as Plato) or of central texts (such as The Republic). Even worse, Kenny sticks largely to technical philosophical issues, which he doesn't relate to broader intellectual or cultural history. The result is a book that moves back and forth in time, jumps from philosopher to philosopher, and feels at times like a series of specialized mini-essays rather than a true survey of ancient thought.
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Format: Paperback
Sir Anthony Kenny's four-volume History of Western Philosophy begins at the traditional place: in Ancient Greece. Clearly and concisely, he sketches the contributions of Thales of Miletus, Parmenides, Anaximader, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and -- in Rome -- Cicero and Augustine (and many more). For these 110 pages alone, the book is worth picking up used.

Thereafter Kenny does a thematic treatment that is far more involved, technical and tangential. His intention seems to be to put the voices of the individual philosophers and schools of philosophy in dialogue with one another but he does not always keep the lines clear of who is arguing what and when. Is Kenny rebutting Aristotle himself or paraphrasing an ancient rebuttal of an Aristotelian argument?

The thematic chapters will still be of use to people looking for summations of individual thematic topics, but it is far too 'inside baseball' for the casual reader. The themes are: Logic, Epistemology, Physics, Metaphysics, Soul and Mind, Ethics, God.

Though it is a History of Western Philosophy, it would've been nice to see signposts that relate different ideas to the wider non-western world. Kenny uses a number of British-isms and British metaphors that an editor could've easily replaced with more universal language. The book has excellent pictorial illustrations of the philosophers from some more-obscure art library sources. I have to credit this ambitious project: while it is not the definitive history of ancient western philosophy, it must certainly be the most comprehensive and up-to-date one available. Four stars.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`Ancient Philosophy' is the first of four volumes in Anthony Kenny's `A New History of Western Philosophy' recently published by Oxford University Press. For those unfamiliar with the author, Kenny is a leading contemporary scholar that has previously written noteworthy texts on Aquinas, Descartes, and Wittgenstein amongst others. While Kenny's writing and scholarship is of a high standard I have mixed feelings about the text.

One the one hand, it is the best single-author overview of Western philosophy of which I am familiar, more readable than Copleston and more evenhanded than Russell. Undertaking a history of Western philosophy is a daunting task. Such a vast subject can be approached chronologically, by subject matter or in a mixed manner. Kenny takes the latter mixed approach, providing a chronological survey of the period in the early part of the book then delving into specific subject areas in latter portions.

On the other hand, I am uncertain if it will find a ready audience. Those with sufficient background to follow the discussion may pass on the book, while those unacquainted with ancient philosophy will likely find much of text rather arcane and opaque. Additionally, from a physical perspective the paper is glossy, giving the text a bit of a `fluffy' feel as well as making it difficult to read it certain lightening conditions (reflection).

Overall, an ambitious undertaking by an excellent philosopher. Despite my mixed feelings, I will likely pick up the subsequent volumes.
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I've had this volume on my shelf for some time, but read it now to prep for a class in the subject that I will teach this fall. Didn't expect much, but frankly I thought this book was a really wonderful discussion and history of ancient philosophy. He condenses the actual history, and spends most of the volume discussing the progress of the major areas of philosophy. What is notable is how readable this book is for the average person. I heartily recommend it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of books published by Oxford, especially their history, philosophy and Very Short Introductions series. I have read several selections and have usually found them to be well written. Imagine my surprise when I began reading the Kindle edition of this book to discover typo after typo. They all seem to be word substitution errors like "he" instead of "be". Oxford, you really need to fix the Kindle edition of this book it is well below your standards.
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