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Barnes' selection of Early Greek 'pre-Socratic' Philosophy
on 20 January 2013
In this book, Barnes presents an insightful and scholarly account of the different views of the philosophers which preceded the Athenian trio. These works range from the predecessors of Greek philosophy to Diogenes of Apollonia, including many of the greatest thinkers of the era.
What is truly refreshing about this work is the citation of actual fragments of work from ancient philosophers, something which has been curiously lacking in the histories of philosophy. The presentation of, arguably, verbatim material gives the reader a greater understanding of the Greeks with whom they engage and allows for the construction of a true 'feel' of the philosophy.
The selection within this work is also generous, whilst the majority of the work is concerned with the more plentiful fragments of major names such as Empedocles and Democritus, there is also mention of smaller intermediaries and commentaries on periods of time. These give the work a distinct charm and offer a more complete view of the development of the history of ancient Greek thought.
Another great facet of this book is the scholarly nature of the writing, the authenticity of which is rare in philosophy books and once again provides another dimension to the reading.
However, there are a few issues which this book encounters. Firstly, and inevitably, there is a confusing use of notation and text style in this work. These are necessary to differentiate between Barnes, commentator and actual Greek philosopher, but nonetheless it can prove troublesome. Furthermore, there is a lack of a concluding section. Whilst this is obviously not a tremendous injustice, Barnes' writing would have been a useful resolution to the book.
Overall, this is a great product and one I would thoroughly recommend.