Item description for Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Julia Annas...
Overview Presents fundamental philosophical questions as posed by ancient philosophers, comparing and contrasting modern differences in approach and perspective.
Publishers Description The tradition of ancient philosophy is a long, rich and varied one, in which the notes of discussion and argument constantly resound. This book introduces ancient debates, engaging us with the ancient developments of their themes. Moving away from the presentation of ancient philosophy as a succession of great thinkers, the book gives readers a sense of the freshness and liveliness of ancient philosophy, and of its wide variety of themes and styles. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
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Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 6.99" Width: 4.47" Height: 0.37" Weight: 0.3 lbs.
Release Date Jan 18, 2001
Publisher Oxford University Press
ISBN 0192853570 ISBN13 9780192853578
Availability 0 units.
More About Julia Annas
Julia Annas is Regents Professor of Philosophy at The University of Arizona. She has published eight books and many articles on a wide variety of topics in ancient philosophy and is author of Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction.
Julia Annas currently resides in the state of Arizona. Julia Annas has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Arizona, Tucson University of Arizona University of Ariz.
Reviews - What do customers think about Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)?
Annas gets right to the central questions of ancient philosophers Oct 20, 2007
How should you introduce a country? With an abstract map of its terrain? Or would it be better to show a beautiful picture (or several) to stand for the whole--say the Taj Majal for India--something to lure and enchant the would-be traveler?
Julia Annas chooses the latter strategy. Her introduction leads the reader right to the heart of some of the most important questions of early philosophy: the dichotomy between passion and reason; the nature of the self; whether or not there is a goal to life; what logic is and why it is desirable and necessary; whether knowing is possible; the ways in which we explore the nature and pattern of the universe through science.
Annas' strength is her ability to express the fundamental questions of early philosophy with great clarity and to follow-up with very succinct descriptions of how they were treated by Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and a range of other early philosophers.
Her treatment of The Republic (Penguin Classics) is especially strong. She shows us how from Jowett onwards it came te be regarded primarily as a political work. However, she shows that the work takes up a much broader question, the relation between virtue and happines. Plato sketches the structure of an ideal society as a model for the structure of the soul. Annas provides a good, quick overview of the work itself while demonstrating the ways in which interpretations have varied during different historical periods.
Readers looking for a broader survey might choose Frederick Copleston's History of Philosophy, Volume 1 (History of Philosophy). Those looking for an in-depth view showing how the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers elevated DOING philosophy (rather than studying it as an academic subject) specifically for the purpose of achieving happiness in this life should see Pierre Hadot's very interesting treatment What Is Ancient Philosophy?.
Even the non-beginner will find a very clear and interesting treatment of the major philosophic questions of the ancients in this compact 100-page book.
Engaging Jan 30, 2007
I found this intro to be quite enjoyable, but it's left me with the impression that the actual ideas of the ancient philosophers are of little merit (excepting the concept of virtue, which Annas is clearly taken by). But surely an intro should encourage a non-specialist reader that a subject has more than academic interest?
Also, the book badly needs editing, not to say proof-reading.
Very Disappointing Aug 23, 2006
The use of the words 'she' and 'herself' as well as the mockery of the portrayal of Vice as a 'floozy' really sickened me. It made me realize I myself and several other people I know could have written a better book on the subject. Did it feel good to type in 'herself' and 'she' as if to suggest no male will read this book and if they did they were excluded? Can we just get past this feminist finger pointing? This is 2006. There is no doubt the author could have used the pronouns 'his and herself' or something more objective. It just leaves one to ask....why didn't she?
Not a Quick Reference Guide, but an Outstanding Eye-Opener Mar 24, 2005
General Review of Book Series: I have to admit it: I am a fan of these little books. It's my dirty little secret. These short introductions provide one with a pocketsize, portable introduction to a wide variety of topics. With a light tone and a surface skim of the issues, these little guides provide one with the general overview one might expect in a small survey course. Naturally, there are downsides. Are these guides comprehensive? Heavens no! Do they take time to dig deeply into the issues? Not generally. But are they a good resource to use if you want to get your feet wet before you dive in? Yes. When used properly, these little guidebooks can allow what might start out as a casual curiosity to develop into a more in-depth research project. In fact, all of these introductions provide references and suggestions for further reading.
Julia Annas's _A Very Short Introduction to Ancient Philosophy_ is a very lively book that immerses the reader into the world of ancient philosophy without assuming any prior knowledge of the topic. Annas throws aside the standard "march through history" account of these thinkers and chooses instead to engage the reader with the problems and concerns these ancient thinkers puzzled over. Many readers have faulted her for this decision for she does not provide a quick & easy reference to names and ideas. But her point is that such a reference guide is, in many ways, impossible to construct. Therefore, we should be aware of how we "create" these thinkers according to our own interests and bias.
Chapter One concerns the battle between reason and emotion in our souls, a discussion that leads right into her treatment of Plato's _Republic_. What is interesting about Annas's account of the _Republic_ is that she chooses to focus upon the ways in which Plato's work has been received by generations of scholars instead of purely focusing on the philosophical merit of the work. While I would have liked a bit more philosophy in this chapter, her analysis helps to reveal the ways in which our understanding of the _Republic_ is influenced (and perhaps even dictated) by our own philosophical interests. Thus, perhaps Annas does not provide a thorough philosophical examination of the _Republic_ because her own interpretation would be hampered by such influence. However, I also suspect that, being a short introduction, there was simply no time to get too heavily involved in it.
Annas's remaining sections are devoted to eudaimonism and virtue, reason and scepticism, and logic and reality. It is the final chapter, however, that I found particularly interesting, perhaps because it deals a bit more with chronology than Annas has chosen to use in the rest of the book. In this chapter, Annas tries to provide some grounds for grouping "ancient philosophy" as a whole, and discusses the ways that thinkers reacted to one another, the dividing influence of Plato, and the status of ancient philosophy after Plato and Aristotle. In general, I enjoy chronological accounts of these thinkers, but Annas does a wonderful job keeping me interested and engaging these thinkers in a slightly different way than I am accustomed to. I would recommend this introduction to anyone thinking of exploring ancient philosophy further.
Excellent little book Feb 12, 2005
I am a beginning student of philosophy, and found Professor Annas' book to be extremely helpful. Not only does she provide a sophisticated introduction to ancient Greek thought, she gives the best definition of philosophy I have yet come across: the search for truth by reasoned argument. These are two major accomplishments for a very small book.
She manages to cover the pre-Socrates, Socrates, Plato, the Sophists, Aristotle, the Stoics, the Skeptics, the Cynics and many others. She covers Plato and Aristotle in surprising depth. Her comments on the others are more brief, but they are to the point and meaningful. She demonstrates very clearly the relevence of ancient Greek thought to the problems we face in our own time.
She uses each chapter to introduce and discuss a major philosophical topic: Ancient theories of personality are exemplified by the various treatments of the Medea legend, she gives an account of the evolution of the interpretations of Plato's Republic, of what constitutes a happy life and how to achieve it, what is knowledge and how do we think of it, and the beginnings of logical reasoning and theories of reality. The Greeks didn't make these distinctions, but there you have most of the branches of modern philosophy: theory of personality, ethics, epistimology, metaphysics, and logic. Prof. Annas' book is much more sophisticated than it at first appears.
I have only one complaint: Like many feminists, she takes the English language convention that the impersonal third-person pronoun is masculine or neuter, ("he, him" or "one") never feminine ("she, her"), personally, and at the oddest momentss plonks down a "she" where a "he" or "one" would normally be expected. This is of course a common device in feminist writing, designed to make a statement about the oppressiveness of Western society in general and the English language in particular. This detracts from her otherwise exemplary prose style. Fortunately, she avoids feminist rhetoric otherwise, even in her discussion of Medea.
The single best thing about this book is that it makes one want to read more.