Socrates, Ironist and Moral Philosopher

Socrates, Ironist and Moral Philosopher

4.17 (78 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

This vivid and compelling study of Socrates's moral philosophy and, more generally, of his moral outlook and his attitude toward religion and society, reclaims the remarkable originality of his thought. Gregory Vlastos shows us a Socrates who, though he has been long overshadowed by his successors, Plato and Aristotle, represented the true turning point in Greek attitude toward philosophy, religion, and ethics. In his quest for the historical Socrates, Vlastos focuses on Plato's earlier dialogues, setting the Socrates we find there in sharp contrast to the Socrates of later dialogues, in which he is used as a mouthpiece for Plato's own doctrines, many of them anti-Socratic in nature.

At the heart of the book is Vlastos's perception of the paradoxical nature of Socratic thought. But Vlastos explains the paradoxes rather than explaining them away, and he highlights the tensions in the Socratic search for the answer to the question: How should we live? The magnetic quality of Socrates' personality emerges throughout his book. Clearly and elegantly written, subtle in its arguments yet entirely accessible to non-specialists, this is major work in ancient philosophy and the history of Western thought.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 334 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 5mm | 539g
  • Ithaca, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0801497876
  • 9780801497872
  • 325,855

Back cover copy

Gregory's new book begins from the conviction that Socrates strangeness is the key to his philosophy. It is a marvelous book, in which no major aspect of Socrates career is eclipsed. The rigor of his arguments, the depth of his moral commitment and understanding, his complex relationship to Athenian ethical traditions, his rational religion: all this comes to life in writing whose vigor and lucidity put the challenge of Socrates squarely before the reader.
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Review quote

"This is the best book available on its subject. No other book written by someone with such deep knowledge can speak with so much authority to scholars and still be so enjoyable for general readers. Philosophical writing now tends to be excessively technical and academic. Socrates, Ironist and Moral Philosopher is not; it can take many different kinds of people to the heart of the most puzzling and important features of Socrates."-Julia Annas, New York Times Book Review "Gregory Vlastos's book begins from the conviction that Socrates' strangeness is 'the key to his philosophy.' It is a marvelous book, in which no major aspect of Socrates' career is eclipsed. The rigor of his arguments, the depth of his moral commitment and understanding, his complex relationship to Athenian ethical traditions, his rational religion: all this comes to life in writing whose vigor and lucidity put the challenge of Socrates squarely before the reader. . . . It deserves as much honor as any work of scholarship in Greek philosophy in this century."-Martha C. Nussbaum, The New Republic "What can be surmised about this extraordinary and arresting figure has been brilliantly presented and argued in this closely reasoned book, for which we are all greatly in Gregory Vlastas's debt."-Charles Taylor, Times Literary Supplement
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About Gregory Vlastos

Gregory Vlastos (1907-1991) was Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University and at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1990, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. His other books include Socratic Studies; Studies in Greek Philosophy, Volumes I and II; and Plato's Universe.
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Rating details

78 ratings
4.17 out of 5 stars
5 45% (35)
4 36% (28)
3 13% (10)
2 5% (4)
1 1% (1)
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