A better introduction to ancient Greek philosophy


If you have never read a book about Greek philosophy and want to start on the subject, make it this one. The title sounds very formal, but it’s a very readable book. It doesn’t matter that it’s more than 20 years old, the subject matter is millenia old for God’s sake.

The book is divided into short chapters about every influential ancient Greek philosopher from Anaximander to the neosocratics. In between you get some background information about how and where these people lived to explain why they had all their grand ideas and to try to explain what the ideas mean.

Then when a number of similar philosophers have been treated you get a chapter which is set in the present. The author introduces a fictional character who lives his life according to the ideas of the ancient philosophers from the preceding chapters. This helps to understand what the old ideas mean and why they are so important, but it also makes the subject matter less abstract in a fun way and keeps me, the reader, interested and wanting to know what happens next.

That’s how I now understand the basics of Empedocles’ ideas about how life is set in the following quadrants: Hate/Love and Freedom/Power. Forces that push and pull at each other causing the very particles of our existence to react to each other.

Related post: Early Greek Philosophy


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