By George F. McLean
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Additional resources for Ancient Western Philosophy: The Hellenic Emergence
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987. M. ‘Homer’ in Who’s Who in the Classical World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Chapter 5 Hesiod 8th-7th Century BC Aude Engel Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false things as though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true things. (Hesiod, Theogony, 26-29) In such a way the Muses address Hesiod, teacher of all Greeks, whose poetry in ancient times was almost as famous and revered as Homer’s.
In philosophy, nothing is beyond dispute, not even the nature of the subject itself. Naturally, this can be very confusing. However, as I have been trying to reassure students for years, confusion is an important part of the philosophical experience. In order to see the point of tackling a problem, it is necessary to see that there really is a problem. In this context, confusion is positive rather than negative. Confusion motivates us to try and discover what the problem is, and then to try and find a solution to it.
Abundant textual material on their systems of philosophy has come down to us either directly or indirectly, and our task is to try to make consistent and coherent sense of it. Accounts of the Platonic and Aristotelian frameworks, as well as of some of the contemporaries of Plato and Aristotle are given in Part 4. Part 5 contains accounts of philosophers writing in the Hellenistic period, that is the period that stretches for about three hundred years from the date of the death of Alexander the Great, himself a pupil of Aristotle, in 323 BC, to the foundation of the Roman Empire.
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