- Use promo code PRIMEBOOKS18 to save $5.00 when you spend $20.00 or more on Books offered by Amazon.com. Enter code PRIMEBOOKS18 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Special offers and product promotions
"Each of these essays is like a polished diamond, hard-edged, multi-faceted, and brilliant....[They] will stand as a remarkable achievement. Reading them is exhilarating and challenging. They are a splendid example of how philology and analytic philosophy can together be used to recover ancient wisdom." Lloyd P. Gerson, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"Vlastos' work is central to any understanding of ancient philosophy so this work will be widely sought out by professors and students." The Reader's Review
"Those who wish to argue that this ancient Athenian used irony and other forms of indirect expression in order to enhance his communication of internally consistent and cogent philosophical theories that can endure examination by the contemporary analytic philosopher will enjoy sinking their teeth into Socratic Studies." Naomi Reshotko, Canadian Philsophical Review
"Over the last dozen years or so Vlastos has transformed the study of Socrates with missionary zeal. He has produced a picture of Socrates that is amazingly consistent and often satisfying, built upon a series of plausible hypotheses." Ancient Philosophy
In the companion volume to Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher, four ground-breaking papers that laid the basis for the author's understanding of Socrates are collected here, together with a fifth chapter that is a new and provocative discussion of Socrates' arguments in the Protagoras and Laches.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Vlastos assumes a knowledge of the Greek alphabet and of basic logic. He spent his professional life trying to clarify Socrates' philosophy to the extent that it can be separated from Plato's projections. As a non-specialist, I find Professor Vlastos' explanations very convincing, but understanding them requires time and attention to detail. It is not light reading.
His paper on "Socrates and the Athenian democracy" covers much of the same ground as I.F. Stone's speculative and subjective book on Socrates' trial and death. Vlastos takes pains not to outrun his evidence, and when he does, to be very clear about it. He shows clearly that Socrates was NOT a closet oligarchist, probably sympathized with the democracy, and avoided politics when at all possible. But he also shows that the evidence for any clear statement of Socrates' political views is sparse - "crumbs".
The essay on "Socrates and Vietnam" is the most interesting of the papers because in it Vlastos reveals his own Leftist political views and his disappointment that Socrates wasn't himself more clearly a man of the Left - in ancient terms, a man of the "demos". He thinks this is a deficiency and that it diminishes Socrates' status as a moral example. For Vlastos, the viciousness of Athenian politics does not excuse Socrates' passivity.
Vlastos equates the Vietnam War with the Peloponnesian War, and faults Socrates for staying silent regarding atrocities committed in that war by Athens. While Professor Vlastos, like Socrates, is dead and can't defend himself, nevertheless it seems to me that Vlastos' naive and doctrinaire support of Communist regimes in both Vietnam and Central America was in harmony with the views of his fellow academics and much of the American electorate, and carried negligible personal risk. Socrates, by contrast, like any Athenian citizen, ran the risk of fine, exile, or death, if he took a political position that conflicted with the "demos" of Athens. No Athenian had the protection of a First Amendment. Socrates' trial and execution shows the extreme vulnerability of any Athenian who came into political conflict with his fellow citizens.
Vlastos, to his credit, doesn't let his political differences with his hero interfere with his fairness and objectivity. His work is close, careful, fair-minded, and scholarly reasoning at its best. May his spirit reside peacefully with that of the man he spent so many years studying.
(In fairness to Vlastos, it should be noted that in his paper "Socrates and Vietnam" he states that during the Vietnam years he was notified by the FBI that his status as an immigrant from Canada could be placed in jeopardy if he became too active in the anti-war movement. He says that FBI notification helped keep him at his research for the next 20 years, and that he identifies with Socrates' desire to stay out of trouble with the authorities. Vlastos, feeling more secure in exercising his First Amendment rights in the '80's, and no doubt by then a naturalized citizen, became more outspoken in his Leftist views. However, I don't think the possibility of being deported to Canada is equivalent to being sentenced to death, and, with all due respect to the professor, I find his comparison of his own situation with that of Socrates a bit much.)