Book 12 Sheilds ‘Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy’ is finally read making it Book 12 this year

My LSE covered leaflet come Bookmark now needs me to  only fill in ‘Shields [Christopher well known philosopher, Philosophy Bites with Nigel Burton and his mate]’Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy’ in order to mark this. The other means is of course the Net and posting up thoughts and feelings on this volume so here we go.

Sheilds Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy is definitely a book for Philosophers and or self Learners who are prepared to plough deeper in it’s pages in order to read the Philosophers themselves and make for themselves a mini ‘Introduction to Ancient Philosophy’ Course.

I estimate one’s Representative Reading List if 90 at least grows by between 10 to 30 depending on one’s commitment to the Subject which I discover is a totally different area of Philosophy. ( I need citation here). One could add the following to one’s List: Pre-Socratics Thale, Parmenedides? Socratics the famous Socrates ( I book) Plato first (2 books Republic and Symposium) Aristotle his pupil ( Niconamenah Ethics, the Politics and plain vanilla texts in collection) who is more complex than Plato (lots of work on). Hellenistic Philosophers Epicurious, Stoicism plus other chap, going onto Academics and Pyronnists (names but none come to mind at the moment); then the neglected Neo Platonists who complicate matters for all of us by their interpretation of Plato.

 I have at least another ten, making a hundred not just 90. And that is without delving any deeper. Latin and Greek look increasingly necessary as does mathematics in all it’s glory so one can get into Protagoros, Euclid and other Philosophers/Mathematicians.

I only discovered my academic needs via the academic books and so  I wonder if schools prepare us in public arena, for the rigors and demands that these books put on us and only find the Private School Sector up to the job. Apart from DIY of course and the ability to nab brilliant first class SCHOOL resources not just what ever from the University sector.

324 words so far. Sheilds obviously knows his stuff because he is able to give us an overview with his colleagues of the state of resources available or not to Ancient Philosophy and to make an assessment which stands up and is thorough. He really has taken an overview of the Scene and gives us the benefits of his insight. The problems being archeological evidence of fragments of the various philosophers, the problem of TRANSLATION some philosophers the Neo Platonists and others I believe have not yet been translated from the Greek, the need for authorative and reliable texts if translated Guides etc (He gives us both authorative and reliable Reading lists at end of chapter along with Bibliography) which means that unfortunately unless trained in above; the privately trained and educated School pupil with this knowledge is more likely to engage with this material than an untrained person as myself or others in Schools and other Institutions which simply don’t give you the leverage to do justice to this subject. ( I note the OU does Greek and Latin which is handy so that is something to note plus Philosophy is chock full of latin greek and foreign language phrases and expressions, Academia I discover is de facto0.

 The book is well written, clear and demanding. There are some academics out there who let us down by their writing. Arts and Letters Daily by their parody of this illustrate this to be so but unfortunately I have seen badly written obscure text books eg Peter Berger who have good arguments but frame them in such obsurantism as to if faced again require one endlessly googles and uses dictionary to follow up the zillions of terms. The clear text to me would speak of clear lecturing. I can get hold of Sheilds on ‘Philosophy bites’ Warburton and co thus confirming my view of him.

Sheilds also shows us the hot debates in Ancient Philosophy ie whether Aristotle was a Functionalist. These are key to help us to find out what the hot debates are. As this encourages good analysis and gives one anchor points so one does not have to feel bad if one was learning to debate/learn this also. A distinctly undergraduate feature ( I remember from my Sociology/Government days at Essex reference back to LSE External also well versed in philosphy theory etc the foundations of good education)

Psychology also enters in text via philosophers such as Aristotle and terms Anaraxia? Psychology is built into the wide intellectual assumptions of the text which is  both sensible , logical ,and holistic. The psychological aspect reveals how deep people like  the ancient philosphers were.

One cannot divorce man from his psychology and psychological roots rightly go back to ancient times and are refererenced from philosophical explorations rather than just explanations of mans nature.

A book to come back to, be guided by, for future reference. A challenging yet accessible read  for those who wish to go further and have their studies on solid ground.

See also



824 words

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