By Anthony Kenny
The following readers will locate not just an authoritative advisor to the background of philosophy, but additionally a compelling advent to each significant zone of philosophical inquiry. --from writer description
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Additional info for A New History of Western Philosophy Vol 1 Ancient Philosophy
Some of Socrates’ traits in The Clouds are attributed to him also by other, more friendly writers. There is general agreement that he was pot-bellied and snub-nosed, pop-eyed and shambling in gait. He is regularly described as being shabby, wearing threadbare clothes, and liking to go barefoot. Even Aristophanes represents him as capable of great feats of endurance, and indiVerent to privation: ‘never numb with cold, never hungry for breakfast, a spurner of wine and gluttony’ (414–17). From other sources it appears that he was a spurner of wine not in the sense of being a teetotaller, but as having an unusual ability to hold his liquor (Plato, Smp.
If we took the second part of his poem out of its context, we would see in it a cosmology very much in the tradition of the Ionian thinkers. To the normal pairs of opposites Parmenides adds light and darkness, and he is given credit by Aristotle for introducing Love as the eYcient cause of everything (Metaph. A 3. 984b27). The Way of Seeming in fact includes two truths not hitherto 10 A detailed examination of Parmenides’ ontology will be found in Ch. 6 below. L. 9. 21), and secondly, that the Morning Star is the same as the Evening Star.
If an object is useful, Socrates argues, it must be the product of design, not chance; but our sense-organs are eminently useful and delicately constructed. ‘Because our sight is delicate, it has been shuttered with eyelids which open when we need to use it, and close in sleep; so that not even the wind will damage it, eyelashes have been planted as a screen; and our foreheads have been fringed with eyebrows to prevent harm from the head’s own sweat’ (Mem. 1. 4. 6). Such contrivances, and the 36 PYTHAGORAS TO PLATO implantation of the instincts for procreation and self-preservation, look like the actions of a wise and benevolent craftsman (demiourgos).
A New History of Western Philosophy Vol 1 Ancient Philosophy by Anthony Kenny