Knowledge, Nature, and the Good

Knowledge, Nature, and the Good: Essays on Ancient Philosophy

John M. Cooper
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 400
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7srtx
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    Knowledge, Nature, and the Good
    Book Description:

    Knowledge, Nature, and the Goodbrings together some of John Cooper's most important works on ancient philosophy. In thirteen chapters that represent an ideal companion to the author's influentialReason and Emotion, Cooper addresses a wide range of topics and periods--from Hippocratic medical theory and Plato's epistemology and moral philosophy, to Aristotle's physics and metaphysics, academic scepticism, and the cosmology, moral psychology, and ethical theory of the ancient Stoics.

    Almost half of the pieces appear here for the first time or are presented in newly expanded, extensively revised versions. Many stand at the cutting edge of research into ancient ethics and moral psychology. Other chapters, dating from as far back as 1970, are classics of philosophical scholarship on antiquity that continue to play a prominent role in current teaching and scholarship in the field. All of the chapters are distinctive for the way that, whatever the particular topic being pursued, they attempt to understand the ancient philosophers' views in philosophical terms drawn from the ancient philosophical tradition itself (rather than from contemporary philosophy).

    Through engaging creatively and philosophically with the ancient texts, these essays aim to make ancient philosophical perspectives freshly available to contemporary philosophers and philosophy students, in all their fascinating inventiveness, originality, and deep philosophical merit. This book will be treasured by philosophers, classicists, students of philosophy and classics, those in other disciplines with an interest in ancient philosophy, and anyone who seeks to understand philosophy in philosophical terms.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2644-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. KNOWLEDGE
    • CHAPTER 1 METHOD AND SCIENCE IN ON ANCIENT MEDICINE
      (pp. 3-42)

      THE TREATISEOn Ancient Medicineis nowadays one of the most admired, and most studied, of those making up the Hippocratic Corpus. Surprisingly, perhaps, this favored position is a distinctly modern phenomenon, one not found among the ancients. In the midsecond century A.D., Galen knew the work,¹ but he did not devote a commentary to it, as he did to many others in the Hippocratic Corpus that he thought most important and worthwhile. He even wrote commentaries on some he thought entirely or largely “spurious,” that is, not by the “great” Hippocrates.² But he almost totally ignoredOn Ancient Medicine—...

    • CHAPTER 2 PLATO ON SENSE-PERCEPTION AND KNOWLEDGE (THEAETETUS 184– 186)
      (pp. 43-64)

      Plato’s argument in theTheaetetus(184b– 186e) against the proposal that knowledge be defined as αϊσηטσις¹ has, I think, not yet been fully understood or rightly appreciated. Existing interpretations fall into two groups. On the one hand, F.M. Cornford² and others think that Plato rejects the proposal on the ground that the objects which we perceive are not the sort of objects of which one could have knowledge: only the unchanging Forms can be known. On the other hand, there are those³ who think Plato’s argument has nothing to do with Forms but instead turns on a distinction between sensation...

    • CHAPTER 3 PLATO, ISOCRATES, AND CICERO ON THE INDEPENDENCE OF ORATORY FROM PHILOSOPHY
      (pp. 65-80)

      One sometimes hears it said that the ancient rhetorical tradition—the orators and teachers of oratory descending from the fifth century B.C. Sophists—had a distinctive, reasonably well developed theory of what constitutes sound argument on the subjects on which orators were expected to speak—justice, human private and communal good, excellence of mind and character, and so on. The suggestion is that in the oratorical tradition one can find a powerful alternative to the ideas developed in the philosophical tradition on this same subject, ideas that involve a commitment to concepts of justice, goodness, excellence, and so on, that...

    • CHAPTER 4 ARCESILAUS: SOCRATIC AND SKEPTIC
      (pp. 81-104)

      At least since the time of Cicero, the interpretation of what we call Academic skepticism has been uncertain and subject to dispute. For us today, the central disputed question, or related set of questions, concerns the relationship between the philosophical views of the Academics and their argumentative practices—from the time of Arcesilaus, when Plato’s Academy first “went skeptical,”¹ down through his successors, Carneades and Clitomachus, in the late second century—to the self-styled Pyrrhonism inaugurated by Aenesidemus in the first half of the first century B.C. This is a question that Cicero never raises, and may not have been...

  6. NATURE
    • CHAPTER 5 ARISTOTLE ON NATURAL TELEOLOGY
      (pp. 107-129)

      Aristotle believed that many (not, of course, all) natural events and facts need to be explained by reference to natural goals. He understands by a goal (оữ ἕνεкα), whether natural or not, something good (from some point of view) that something else causes or makes possible, where this other thing exists or happens (at least in part) because of that good.¹ So in holding that some natural events and facts have to be explained by reference to natural goals, he is holding that some things exist or happen in the course of nature because of some good that they do or...

    • CHAPTER 6 HYPOTHETICAL NECESSITY
      (pp. 130-147)

      In two places in his extant works, inPhysicsII 9 and three connected passages of theParts of AnimalsI 1 (639b21–640a10, 642a1–13, 31–b4), Aristotle introduces and explains his notion of “hypothetical necessity” (ἀνάγκη ἐξ ύποθἑσεως).¹ Judging from this terminology one might think a hypothetical necessity would be anything that is necessary given something else, or something else’s being assumed to be so (cf.APr.I 10.30b32–40)—in effect, anything that follows necessarily from something else’s being so, but that may not, taken in itself, be necessary at all. But this is not so; the...

    • CHAPTER 7 TWO NOTES ON ARISTOTLE ON MIXTURE
      (pp. 148-173)

      Aristotle says that if (for example) some sugar is dissolved in some water, with the result that we now have a new homoeomerous or “like-parted” stuff, sugar water (and not merely some water with particles of sugar suspended in it), then the sugar and the water that we mixed together have nonetheless not been destroyed. By his account, sugar water does not result through the joint transformation of the two ingredients (and so their mutual destruction) into some new compound material, as it were with its own molecular structure distinct from those of the ingredients. Sugar water is what Aristotle...

    • CHAPTER 8 METAPHYSICS IN ARISTOTLE’S EMBRYOLOGY
      (pp. 174-203)

      Traditionally, discussion of Aristotle’s metaphysics, including his theory of form and the “what it is to be” any given substantial object, has dealt extensively with the relevant texts in theCategories, Physics, De anima,and, of course, theMetaphysicsitself. But the biological works have been largely neglected as sources for knowledge about and insight into Aristotle’s theory.¹ This seems to me unfortunate. In his biological works Aristotle invokes the form of an animal constantly and in interesting physical and, one would have said, metaphysical detail, as the explanation for much, and that the crucial part, of what happens to...

    • CHAPTER 9 STOIC AUTONOMY
      (pp. 204-244)

      As it is currently understood, the notion of autonomy, both as something belonging to human beings and human nature, as such, and also as the source or basis of morality (moral duty), is bound up inextricably with the philosophy of Kant. The term “autonomy” itself derives from classical Greek, where (at least in surviving texts) it was applied primarily if not exclusively in a political context, namely, to certain civic communities possessing independent legislative and self-governing authority.¹ The term was taken up again in Renaissance and early modern times with similar political applications, but was applied also in ecclesiastical disputes...

  7. THE GOOD
    • CHAPTER 10 TWO THEORIES OF JUSTICE
      (pp. 247-269)

      In later antiquity, Plato’sRepubliccarried the secondary title “On Justice.”¹ In fact, as befits a dialogue, it presents us with not one but two distinct—even opposed—theories of what justice is and what its functions are in the life of any just community. Plato’s brothers Glaucon and Adeimantus set out one of these theories in book II, even though they profess to hope it is not true. Socrates develops the other one over the course of the remaining books. In pitting these two theories against one another, Plato articulated for the first time central issues about justice that...

    • CHAPTER 11 PLATO AND ARISTOTLE ON “FINALITY” AND “(SELF-) SUFFICIENCY”
      (pp. 270-308)

      In the first part of chapter 7 of the first book of theNicomachean Ethics(NE), Aristotle proposes two criteria for the specification of that good which he has been investigating since the first two introductory chapters of the work (i.e., Ʈò ζητούµενου άγαθóυ, I 7, 1097a15). This is the “end of action(s)” (τέλος τŵν πρακτŵν, I 2, 1094a18–19) or “the good and the best thing” (τάγαθòν καì τò ἄρισ τον, a22) or “the highest of all the goods achievable by action” (τò πάντων ἀκρÒτατον τŵν πρακτŵν ἀγαθŵν, I 4, 1095a16– 17). Aristotle’s proposed criteria are that this good...

    • CHAPTER 12 MORAL THEORY AND MORAL IMPROVEMENT: SENECA
      (pp. 309-334)

      Seneca’s stoic writings show clearly that he had a complete and accurate, and also an admirably subtle, understanding of Stoic physical theory and Stoic epistemology and philosophy of language, as well as Stoic ethics—his constant primary concern. His understanding of these matters plainly conforms in all fundamentals to the “orthodox” Stoicism elaborately worked out by the end of the third century B.C. and set down in a multitude of philosophical treatises by Chrysippus, the greatest of the earlier Greek Stoics. This is so even if in points of detail and matters of emphasis Seneca’s understanding also reflects the work...

    • CHAPTER 13 MORAL THEORY AND MORAL IMPROVEMENT: MARCUS AURELIUS
      (pp. 335-368)

      Like his stoic predecessor seneca, Marcus Aurelius writes in hisMeditationsin the ancient tradition of the spiritual adviser or spiritual guide.¹ But since he addresses himself to himself, and not to some counterpart of Seneca’s Lucilius or to any envisaged general readership, his self-guidance takes on the character (to adopt Pierre Hadot’s characterization of theMeditations) ofspiritual exercises.² Thus, for Marcus, the act of writing serves not just to lay down for himself precepts or other guidance on ways of improving one’s life through adherence to a philosophical, and more specifically the Stoic, world view. His writing is...

  8. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 369-380)
  9. INDEX OF PASSAGES
    (pp. 381-396)
  10. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 397-410)