To understand ancient philosophy “in its concrete, complex detail,” Michael Frede says, “one has also to look at all the other histories to which it is tied by an intricate web of casual connections which run both ways.” Frede’s distinctive approach to the history of ancient philosophy is closely tied to his specific interests within the field - the Hellenistic philosophers and those of late antiquity, who are the primary subjects of this book. Long ignored or even maligned, the Stoics and Skeptics, medical philosophers, and grammarians are extremely interesting once their actual views are reconstructed and it is possible to recognize their ties to earlier and later philosophical thought. Refusing to study them as paradigms of achievement, or to seek purely philosophical explanations for their views, Frede draws instead upon those “other histories” - of religion, social structure, law and politics - to illuminate their work and to show how it was interpreted and transformed by succeeding generations.
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