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Pursuits of Wisdom: Six Ways of Life in Ancient Philosophy from Socrates to Plotinus ebook

by John M. Cooper


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Distinguished philosopher John Cooper traces how, for many ancient thinkers, philosophy was not .

Distinguished philosopher John Cooper traces how, for many ancient thinkers, philosophy was not just to be studied or even used to solve particular practical problems. Rather, philosophy-not just ethics but even logic and physical theory-was literally to be lived. Yet there was great disagreement about how to live philosophically: philosophy was not one but many, mutually opposed, ways of life.

Distinguished philosopher John Cooper traces how, for many ancient thinkers, philosophy was not .

Since Socrates, philosophy has been concerned with how we ought to live. In Pursuits of Wisdom, John Cooper brings this crucial question back to life

Since Socrates, philosophy has been concerned with how we ought to live. But the sense in which philosophy must be an ineluctably practical activity has become obscured. How could philosophy have ever conceived of itself as centrally concerned with its own therapeutic value? In Pursuits of Wisdom, John Cooper brings this crucial question back to life. This marvelous book will shape the way we think about and engage with ancient philosophical traditions.

In Pursuits of Wisdom, John Cooper brings this crucial question back to life "This book not only discusses philosophy as a way of life, but manifests many of the virtues such a life might be hoped to embody.

In Pursuits of Wisdom, John Cooper brings this crucial question back to life. -Jonathan Lear, University of Chicago. With unparalleled learning, argumentative depth, and great originality, Cooper presents a thorough rethinking of the major Greek moral philosophers. This book not only discusses philosophy as a way of life, but manifests many of the virtues such a life might be hoped to embody. There is scarcely an instance in which Cooper's sureness of grasp, vivacity of expression, or clarity of purpose falters.

For readers already familiar with ancient moral philosophy, the most provocative part of the book will be the first chapter, where Cooper outlines his understanding of the ancients’ conception of philosophy as way of life

For readers already familiar with ancient moral philosophy, the most provocative part of the book will be the first chapter, where Cooper outlines his understanding of the ancients’ conception of philosophy as way of life. Cooper presents his book as a response to the work of the late Pierre Hadot, author of Philosophy as a Way of Life (1995) and What is Ancient Philosophy? (2002). In these books, Hadot argues that the ancient practice of philosophy as a way of life requires an existential choice whereby one commits oneself to a particular school or set of values.

Pursuits of Wisdom book. Examining this tradition from its establishment by Socrates in the fifth century BCE through Plotinus in the third century CE and the eclipse of pagan philosophy by Christianity, Pursuits of Wisdom examines six central philosophies of living-Socratic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Epicurean, Skeptic, and the Platonist life of late antiquity.

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This is a major reinterpretation of ancient philosophy that recovers the long Greek and Roman tradition of philosophy as a complete way of life--and not simply an intellectual discipline. Distinguished philosopher John Cooper traces how, for many ancient thinkers, philosophy was not just to be studied or even used to solve particular practical problems. Rather, philosophy--not just ethics but even logic and physical theory--was literally to be lived. Yet there was great disagreement about how to live philosophically: philosophy was not one but many, mutually opposed, ways of life. Examining this tradition from its establishment by Socrates in the fifth century BCE through Plotinus in the third century CE and the eclipse of pagan philosophy by Christianity, Pursuits of Wisdom examines six central philosophies of living--Socratic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Epicurean, Skeptic, and the Platonist life of late antiquity.

The book describes the shared assumptions that allowed these thinkers to conceive of their philosophies as ways of life, as well as the distinctive ideas that led them to widely different conclusions about the best human life. Clearing up many common misperceptions and simplifications, Cooper explains in detail the Socratic devotion to philosophical discussion about human nature, human life, and human good; the Aristotelian focus on the true place of humans within the total system of the natural world; the Stoic commitment to dutifully accepting Zeus's plans; the Epicurean pursuit of pleasure through tranquil activities that exercise perception, thought, and feeling; the Skeptical eschewal of all critical reasoning in forming their beliefs; and, finally, the late Platonist emphasis on spiritual concerns and the eternal realm of Being.

Pursuits of Wisdom is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding what the great philosophers of antiquity thought was the true purpose of philosophy--and of life.

Doomredeemer
I have the habit of noting at the end of a book when I've finished it the date I finished it along with a short comment describing my reaction to the book. I was surprised to find that my comment was identical in substance with that of William Thorsell. I remember way back when I turned in the first draft of my undergraduate senior thesis and found that unconsciously I had adopted some of the same prose tics that Cooper has, especially, "as I will explain below." My adviser cured me of that habit by marking those phrases and writing in red ink in large letters in the margin, "Cut out all the previews of coming attractions. We'll get to your points when we get to them."

Cooper's book is indeed so poorly edited that I wonder if because he is such a distinguished, and clearly accomplished, scholar of ancient philosophy and such a senior professor at Princeton, maybe the editors at Princeton University Press were a little scared of him or else just decided to give him a pass. In any case, I approached this book with much more enthusiasm than I had by the middle of it. I hung on to the end, however, and by then found myself so annoyed with the prose that I was having a hard time absorbing what points of his I could decipher.
Roru
I agree with those criticizing the editing and writing. The subject is of great interest to me, as a non-expert reader of philosophy. So far as I know, there is no other single book that encompasses all these early philosophies. And professor Cooper is clearly knowledgeable on the subject.

I am reading the book now and by the time I got to about page 50 I started wondering whether the subject matter was as difficult as it seemed or whether the writing was obscuring the subject matter. After reading further and going back and parsing some of the paragraphs, I decided it was mainly the latter. I then checked Amazon to see what reviewers had to say about this. This review followed.

There is no flow in the writing. You have to carefully think how the overabundant phrases and parentheticals relate to one another in order to understand -- or try to understand -- what the writer is saying. Nevertheless, I intend to keep reading the book because the subject matter is interesting. But I am resigned to having to read slowly and carefully, with frequent need to re-read sentences or paragraphs.
Anararius
I agree with William Thorsell's comment about the writing style of the book. It is terribly verbose. Most sentences contain digressions, amplifications, or parenthetical material that detract from the clear expression of ideas. For example, the following is a single sentence from page four: "Second, we find theories indebted to Kant's ideas about a supposed 'categorical' imperative as establishing the priority of 'moral reasons' (ones deriving from other people's needs and interests, together with one's own, and others', human powers and status as rational agents) over concerns (otherwise legitimate, of course) for one's own pleasure or material advantage, or simply over one's particular desires--likes and dislikes--or special relationships one may stand in or love or family, and the like." There is simply no excuse for such circumlocution. Although philosophy has the potential of appealing to a much larger audience, this will never happen as long as books on philosophy are written in such a manner.
Anazan
Good book, no issues there, but it was very disappointing it could not be obtained in Epub format cheaper over the internet as is possible in countries other than Australia. We are taken for a ride here by Amazon. Freight from the USA is too expensive.
White_Nigga
Cooper's "Pursuits of Wisdom" is a well-conceived, informative, interesting, accessible, and profoundly useful read. The Table of Contents available above makes clear the well-organized conception of the book. In the text itself, sufficient detail is provided about each philosophical outlook discussed, without descent into the encyclopedic. The basic topic, how to live well, is, or ought to be, of broad human interest. Cooper does not talk down to his audience, nor does he get bogged down in the scholastic, specialists' debates common in classical scholarship. (I fail to see at all any basis for complaints in other Amazon reviews about repetitiveness or poor editing: Cooper interrelates, successfully in my reading experience, complex topics to eachother, and recapitulates and summarizes so as to make his arguments clear.) Cooper's arguments are profoundly useful because philosophy, as he plausibly interprets his sources, can indeed help us to live better, happier, more fulfilling lives. Cooper's discussion of Epicureanism (in ch. 5) is alone worth the price of the book.
Granigrinn
As a Princeton alumnus (and former journalist) I was astounded at the absence of basic editing in this text by Princeton University Press. The text is enormously loose, with waves of repetition that leave one drowning in redundancy. The egregious repetition of content is starkly exacerbated by the author's serial use of two phrases - "as I have described above," and "I will have more to say about this below." Add to this the author's chronic interruption of his text with bracketed asides, and the frustration of the reader simply rockets.

The author is obviously knowledgeable, the subject is clearly promising and the readership potentially large. But goodness, editors are a writer's best friend - particularly academic writers - and the editors were clearly AWOL on this. It leaves the book under water.
in waiting
The blurb writers who describe this book as well written either haven't read it, or are not honest, or have a strange idea of what constitutes good writing. I'm a professional philosopher with many hours of reading Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel under my belt. But I decided to not bother with this book when I came across a tortuous sentence on page 4 that was stuffed with parentheses. I concluded right there that the book had not been carefully written. The author is undoubtedly erudite. But he hasn't tried hard enough to express himself in a clear and agreeable manner.
Pursuits of Wisdom: Six Ways of Life in Ancient Philosophy from Socrates to Plotinus ebook
Author:
John M. Cooper
Category:
Humanities
Subcat:
EPUB size:
1600 kb
FB2 size:
1195 kb
DJVU size:
1157 kb
Language:
Publisher:
Princeton University Press; 1 edition (May 27, 2012)
Pages:
456 pages
Rating:
4.7
Other formats:
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