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The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers

The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Kindle Edition]

Diogenes Laertius
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, originally written in Greek likely sometime during the 4th century A.D. , is a collection of biographies on dozens of philosophers. For many of the philosophers discussed, it remains one of the only existing texts of ancient source material.

A table of contents is included.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 680 KB
  • Print Length: 498 pages
  • Publisher: Acheron Press (5 Nov 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A4JVM5E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #57,803 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars IMportant chunk of book missing 14 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Unfortunately a key part of the book is corrupted - namely chapter VII on the Stoics has the section on Zeno of Citium and the associated extensive discussion of Stoicism substituted with material copied from Chapter IX on Zeno of Elea. As I bought the book because of an interest in the Stoics this is a particularly unfortunate omission. The importance of the book to scholars more generally is also in part because of his discussion of Stoic texts long since lost to us. Amazon, I would be grateful if I could receive a complete version of the book! I am not sure if all Kindle versions have this fault or it is just the version I received.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This edition is part of the Forgotten Books "classic reprint" series, which means that it is a scanned in copy of an 1853 edition of of the book; the letters are corrupt and it is difficult to read. If you're after a facsimile of a historical translation then you're in the right place. If you want to actually read the text, don't buy.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative Source on Philosophers' Lives 4 Jan 2012
By Big Al
Format:Kindle Edition
I love this book, which is the best ancient source for biographies of dozens of Ancient Greek philosophers. I also love this Kindle version, because it's not an OCR scan as the reviews about the paperback suggested. This version was clearly formatted with a word processor.

A must read for anyone who loves Ancient Greek philosophy
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy history 29 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent review of all the Greek philosophers and their beliefs, many of which are relevent today, despite having bee forgotten by many of our intellectuals.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Material 14 Feb 2013
By Zadius Sky - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first became aware of Diogenes Laertius' work after reading Comets and the Horns of Moses (The Secret History of the World), and now it's really a fascinating material on the lives of the Greek Philosophers. Truth be told, I had never heard of so many names as mentioned in this book and their backgrounds and sayings were quite an intriguing read. From each gives food for thoughts.

"The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers" is basically a biography of the Greek philosophers as written probably somewhere in the Third Century Anno Domini. Its structure is broken down to ten "books" with the first seven focused on Ionian Philosophers (including Plato, Socrates, and the Cynics/Stoics) and the remaining directed our attention to Italian Philosophers (i.e., Pythagoreans). Considering the fact that it was written nearly two thousand years ago, it's not a bad style and it's pretty straight-forward. For me, each philosopher's life gives an intellectual fuel to my curious mind...

For those who are interested in the ancient Greek history, or the philosophers in general, or history at large, this book is to be recommended.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Myles Slater on: A Flash of Light in the Darkness 22 Sep 2013
By Ian M. Slater - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Diogenes Laertius (or, Laertios in the original Greek, instead of the customary, Latin, spelling) is the name of a compiler of biographies of philosophers; he is thought to have been active in the third century A.D., but possibly a little earlier or later (see the Wikipedia article on him for the range of possible dates, the possible sources of the name, and other details). The "Lives" shine rather narrow beams of light on thinkers who quite commonly took the whole universe as their topic, concentrating on what the compiler either thought his readers would want to know, or on the slender information he actually had. Even granting that he provides an authentic quotation, figuring out what a philosopher may have meant from Diogenes' context can be a challenge.

The author of "Lives of the Eminent Philosophers" is not to be confused with Diogenes the Cynic (a contemporary of Plato and Aristotle), best-known these days either for asking Alexander the Great not to block the sun, or for going about with a burning lamp in daylight, explaining that he was looking for an honest man. Or, for that matter, any other of the fairly numerous bearers of the name.

His ten-book compilation seems to be the survivor of a genre of digests of knowledge which were popular in late classical times, summarizing the heritage of the Greek past for the would-be-learned. The information he offers ranges from the demonstrably inaccurate to the apparently trustworthy; his final book, on Epicurus, is generally regarded as his best, containing as it does substantive quotations from treatises and letters, which pass language and style tests for authenticity. It has often been suggested that he was himself an Epicurean, or as close to one as the eclecticism of the philosophical schools of his time (whenever exactly it was) allowed. (Typically, he has also been classed as a Skeptic....)

Annoyingly, some of the most important, and most disputed, information for which he is the sole or chief source comes in the earlier parts of the "Lives," in the portions concerning the so-called "Pre-Socratic" philosophers. Friedrich Nietzsche (the philosopher), who published a pioneering study of Diogenes Laertius early in his short, brilliant, career as a classical philologist, suggested calling them "Pre-Platonic," since their works, along with those of Socrates, survive only in quotations, whereas Plato was the first to leave a substantial body of surviving work. Unfortunately (as I have complained in another review), the less appropriate name is the one that has stuck -- even though some of the "Pre-Socratics" were his younger contemporaries.

Diogenes here seems to be working with previous compilations and summaries, and may have known little more about their works than the brief passages he actually quotes -- as opposed to Simplicius, a commentator on Aristotle who provided extended quotations from some of the earlier philosophers Aristotle mentioned, noting that their writings had become difficult to find. Inevitably, there is a substantial critical literature, in which Diogenes' contributions are sliced thin in order to be offered as evidence, or rejected as unreliable. The information in Diogenes is scrutinized and dissected in a standard (but increasingly recognized as obsolete) edition compiled in the nineteenth century and several times revised, Diels' "Fragmente der Vorsokratiker" (now referred to, from an editor of a revised edition, as Diels/Kranz). I have discussed several English versions in a review of Kathleen Freeman's "Ancilla to Pre-Socratic Philosophers: A Complete Translation of the Fragments in Diels, 'Fragmente der Vorsokratiker'." (See below some of the other titles.)

The immediate subject of this review is "Diogenes Laertius: The Lives and Opinons of Eminent Philosophers," a Kindle edition based on the 1853 translation by C.D. Yonge, originally published in Bohn's Classical Library, which was a sort of Victorian precursor to Everyman's Library, the Penguin Classics, and the Oxford World's Classics (and various series by other publishers). The translation is regarded as fairly literal, and complete, but not without errors. Yonge also smooths over (but does not omit) material offensive to Victorian -- and more modern -- moral sensibilities. I find it quite readable, but others may balk at the mixture of Victorian English and the underlying Greek sentence structures. As with any translation of Diogenes Laertius, it must be read with critical attention, and not taken too seriously as evidence without further examination.

The bilingual Loeb Classical Library edition by R.D. Hicks ("Lives of the Eminent Philosophers," 1925; two volumes) is generally regarded as superior, but, as noted in the Wikipedia article on "Lives and Opinions," his translation is bowdlerized. (Some of the volumes in the earlier decades of the Loeb Classical Library translated such passages in Greek into Latin, and those in Latin into Italian, providing the passages with "the decent obscurity of a learned language," with sometimes amusing results.) There is a on-line version of Hicks' translation from Wiki-Source, and PDFs from the Library of Congress's website, and print versions are usually available from Amazon.

A third translation, slightly abridged if memory serves, is the paperback "Lives of the Philosophers" (1969), translated and edited by A. Robert Caponigri. I read it sometime in the 1970s, and no longer have a copy to refer to. My impression was mostly favorable, but, as I recall, Caponigri left out the traditional book and chapter numbers, which made finding references a challenge. The lack of commentary or bibliographic references was also a disappointment.

A (rather expensive) critical edition has recently (2013) been published, "Lives of Eminent Philosophers," edited by Tiziano Dorandi, as volume 50 in the Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries series. With luck, we may see a new translation (or two) based on this edition sometime in the future -- Penguin Classics and Oxford World's Classics being, I would think, likely publishers. Of course, bits and pieces appear in a Penguin Classics volume edited by Jonathan Barnes , "Early Greek Philosophy" (1987, second edition 2002), and in Robin Waterfield's "The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and The Sophists" for Oxford World's Classics (2000).
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fully searchable text! 22 April 2013
By Paul K - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What more one can want? What a pleasant surprise, I can do search and all the text is nicely formatted. Real pleasure and all for a few pence...real bargain!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute classic 29 April 2014
By Theofrastus Nihilus - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
So classical, so important book, and so cheap!

This classical work gives us very important information about the less-known philosophers, but of course the more known philosopher, like Plato and Aristotle, are also explained in this book. Especially the section "before Socrates" was very enjoyable.

Diogenes was not a philosopher -still no doubt highly educated and civilized man- and his style gives us an important account how the philosophers were represented to the rest of society in the ancient culture.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars for the price isn't bad.. 5 Nov 2013
By M. Alspach - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The formatting isn't the best.. I am capable of better myself, using Jutoh.

for what you pay foir it you have no complaint though.

one thing I am noticing is that the different kindles all react differently to different ebooks..

I am using a paperwhite now, am used to the keyboard version (which is STILL my favorite).

they need to redo the keyboard with a backlit screen and maybe a 8 gig hdd.
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