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The Presocratic Philosophers: A Critical History with a Selection of Texts Paperback – 29 Dec 1983

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (29 Dec. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521274559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521274555
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.9 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 560,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Book Description

Beginning with a long and extensively rewritten introduction surveying the predecessors of the Presocratics, this book traces the intellectual revolution initiated by Thales in the sixth century BC to its culmination in the metaphysics of Parmenides and the complex physical theories of Anaxagoras and the Atomists in the fifth century.

From the Back Cover

Beginning with a long and extensively rewritten introduction surveying the predecessors of the Presocratics, the book traces the intellectual revolution initiated by Thales in the early sixth century B.C. to its culmination in the metaphysics of Parmenides and the complex physical theories of Anaxagoras and the Atomists in the fifth century. It is based on a selection of some six hundred texts, in Greek and a close English translation which in this edition is given more prominence. These provide the basis for a detailed critical study of the principal individual thinkers of the time.


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Format: Paperback
It's almost uneccessary to review this book: If you are at all interested in Presocratic philosophy, this book is a neccessity, and chances are very good you've already had it recommended by someone (your mentor, professor etc). This volume provides, next to Diels-Kranz: Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, the foundation of Presocratic studies.
As the blurb on the book says, this volume, after initial publication in 1957 "quickly established itself as the standard work on the subject for the English-speaking reader". Which sums it up pretty well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an extremely thorough and well-informed book covering almost everything you might need to know about pre-socratic philosophy. However, it is EXTREMELY scholarly and text-book in it's format. If you need something to use for studying then it would be fine. If you want to actually read a book cover to cover then it's not for you. Also, it it is heavily biased towards the protoscientific aspects of pre-socratic philosophy, and is very light on areas such as existence; being and such like.

I have given it 3 stars because it didn't suit my needs, but that's not to say it's not a good book for different needs.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 21 reviews
83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive collection of pre-socratic philosophy. 4 April 2000
By Craig G Cram - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I first read Kirk and Raven's `Presocratic Philosophers' as an undergrad. I was being taught pre-socratic philosophy by a Cambridge Classical Greek philosopher. Since then it has become one of my favourite and most valuable philosophy texts. Kirk and Raven present us with all the credible `fragments' of presocratic philosophy as quoted in later philosophers. They present the original greek and a (most times) definitive english translation and analysis. Although, what I learned through my professor via Kirk and Raven is that you sift or decant yourself through these most ancient and profound fragments - more akin to an approach to the `I Ching' and poetry than contemporary analytic philosophy. Kirk and Raven present us with the `holy' text of western philosophy which never fails to produce the wonder of thinking - a true thinking that is rare and primordial. Even if you usually don't like reading philosophy, the presocratics are really `post-modern' and poetic in their fragmentary and oracular collages of meaning. T.S. Eliot's `The Four Quartets' is soaked with pre-socratic philosophy.
The Pre-socratics deserve more attention because `all', and I mean all, of the basic philosophic and scientific positions are contained within these seeds of the western tradition.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lost Fragments 2 Dec. 2008
By J. C. Cox - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Because of eurydike's review, I did a little looking around and, indeed, what eurydike states seems to be the case. Based on this review (Thanks, eurydike)), I purchased the First Edition. eurydike is absolutely correct. To knowingly remove precious, important fragments is heinous and inexcusable. I first got this text in the early seventies when I took the class as an elective..... The professor made us work excrutiatingly through (the I Ching method previously referred to in another review) the fragments, and a Greek 101/102/201/202 textbook was required. It was one of the most satisfying classes I have ever taken. Mr. Domino is also correct. This text isn't really for the non major or one without the time requirements to go from scratch. I was in college, had the time and didn't know any better. I don't know where to get the best of both worlds. Perhaps eurydike has an answer for a text that would contain the complete fragments (just absolutely essential, I cannot overstate this) and an honest interpretation. Interpretation is another area that presents the sorts of issues that eurydike refers to. Poor translation lead to poor understanding and mis-guided ideas. Certain carefully crafted and phrased (mis) interpretations (might) support certain academic agendas. I have not read the books eurydike refers to, particularly whether one book contains all of the fragments, the veracity of the interpretations or their timelines.......
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Presocratics :A Critical Review 14 Dec. 2010
By Roger K. Jolley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is well set out in a chronological order, in four sections, from the forerunners of the Philosophical Cosmogony, The Ionian Thinkers,Philosophy in the West and the Ionian response. The inclusion of the Greek text followed by the English translation is useful for those who would be interested in comparing the translation with the 'original' text. Each fragment is identified by the source and the text is generally easy to follow. There are some interesting sections that question whether Aristotle misrepresented various predecessors eg Empedocles with Love and Strife and Heraclitus's idea of a changing river. There are many interesting footnotes that bring in arguments from other authors. These include the classical professionals J. Barnes and W.C. Guthrie. As the statement on the back of the book reads 'The first edition of this...book was judged by reviewers to be 'the best history of Pre-Socratic philosophy, to appear in English since Burnet's Early Greek Philosophy' (Vlastos) This revised edition shows the excellent team work of a knowledgeable team.
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential book to understanding the presocratics 6 Dec. 2014
By Ali R. Pharaa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The most standard book compiling the Greek fragments of Presocratics with very clear commentary.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 11 Feb. 2013
By Jewlz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good Philosphy book. I needed it for a Philosophy course. Good to have if intereste din Philosophy. Easy to understand
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