Words and Ideas. The roots of Plato's philosophy
by Fritz-Gregor Herrmann

ISBN: 978-1-905125-20-3, hardback, 368 pp, 2007, GB 50
 

Plato did not create his philosophy ex nihilo, but rather drew on four centuries of literary production in epic and lyric poetry, on ethnography and historiography, tragedy and comedy, medical and mathematical research, oratory and rhetorical theory, as well as on Presocratic philosophy.
Words & Ideas offers a study of Plato’s philosophical language against this cultural background, retracing to their origins the history and development of the key terms of the Theory of Forms as presented in the Phaedo. ‘Form’ or ‘idea’, ‘ousia’ or ‘being’, ‘participation’, ‘presence’ and ‘community’ are among the concepts investigated. Te aim is to determine both the connotations of Plato’s philosophical terms and the precise historical and philosophical contexts on which Plato drew in the formulation of his thoughts. In tracing the roots of Plato’s philosophy, Words & Ideas demarcates afresh Plato’s position regarding the protagonists of pre-Socratic philosophy: Parmenides and the Eleatics, Anaxagoras and Diogenes of Apollonia, Leucippus and Democritus, Philolaus and the Pythagoreans.
Tis identifcation of his sources allows us, in many cases for the frst time, to judge what in the arguments of the dialogues is Plato’s own contribution and what is there only as part of a philosophical or pre-philosophical inheritance.

The author
Fritz-Gregor Herrmann is Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at Swansea University. He is the author of articles and chapters on Plato’s language and thought, editor of New Essays on Plato (Classical Press of Wales, 2006), and co-editor, with Terry Penner and Douglas Cairns, of Pursuing the Good. Ethics and Metaphysics in Plato’s Republic (Edinburgh University Press, 2007).

 

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