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A History of Greek Philosophy: The Presocratic Tradition from Parmenides to Democritus Volume II: Presocratic Tradition from Parmenides to Democritus Vol 2 Paperback – 22 Feb 1979

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Book Description

All volumes of Professor Guthrie's great history of Greek philosophy have won their due acclaim. The most striking merits of Guthrie's work are his mastery of a tremendous range of ancient literature and modern scholarship, his fairness and balance of judgement and the lucidity and precision of his English prose. He has achieved clarity and comprehensiveness.

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In the second volume of his History of Greek Philosophy Professor Guthrie completes his study of the Presocratic tradition. He groups together families of philosophers who were interested in the same things, distinguishing particularly between the natural philosopher, with their primary interest in cosmogony and the nature of matter, and the moral philosopher with their absorption in human nature and in problems of individual and social morality.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x974f890c) out of 5 stars 1 review
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x974f76cc) out of 5 stars To the Roots of Knowledge and Culture 9 Sept. 2005
By cvairag - Published on
Format: Paperback
One of the truly remarkable intellectual achievements of our time, Guthrie's magisterial six volume History of Greek Philosophy, is, within the compass of my reading, the most comprehensive rendering of the golden epoch of Western Philosophy available. The sheer magnitude of the research collected, sorted, and weighed here is enough to recommend, but this work offers much more than a survey of leading interpretations. Many a major commentary, ancient and modern, receives a fair hearing for each argument analyzed both in the text and in extensive notes. One only wishes Guthrie were eternal that he might have been able to include all that has and will come in the way of analysis since publication of these texts in the 1960's with the same judicious acumen.
On immersing oneself in these many pages, over and again, one is struck by the centrality and the exhaustive nature of the venture. While such a scope of endeavor is bound to be open to controversy on any number of particulars, and Guthrie is not without critics, the distance traversed is staggering, and the work, in its point-by-point detailed coverage, assumes an authority on the achievement of such breadth alone. But it is the analytic depth of Guthrie's treatment of the arguments that for me holds the greater value. For the many treasures on display in these pages shine ever more brightly due to the loving care with which they are presented in view of their developmental contexts.
Among the finer features of Guthrie is the headliner on each page, providing focus for the narrative, in the style of the annotated Jowett Plato. Organization of the chapters under topical rubrics contributes to the superior organization of the work itself and, along with the extensive Indexes, makes reference within this dense field blessedly user-friendly.
If you love Archaic (Pre-Socratic) Greek Philosophy like I do, I feel that there is no better practice than to regularly inter yourself in the first two volumes of Guthrie. I've been asked which is the best investment for a book on early Greek Philosophy. The best-known one-volume histories all have their virtues. Of these, Barnes is probably most useful, very good on the Eleatics and Xenophanes, not so comprehending of Herakleitos, the Milesians, and others. The writing tends to be nuanced in a very Anglo-analytic, somewhat technical, orientation. Kirk and Raven don't thrill me much either as writers or analysts, and make what a number of commentators feel are erroneous judgments. Not nearly as thorough as Guthrie, their book on balance is - sufficient. The old Burnet is quite good at times, but now has been antiquated on many points by later, more accurate readings (discussed in Guthrie). Nietzsche's study, translated as "Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks" is definitely worth a read (what did Nietzsche ever write that wasn't?), but was not intended as comprehensive scholarship. All considered, the first two volumes of Guthrie easily outpace the field, and for pure enjoyment of uniformly superb scholarship, copious citations, and solid, accessible writing, are more than worth the expensive price tag. Splurge! You're buying the best.
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