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Philosophy Before Socrates

An Introduction with Texts and Commentary

Philosophy Before Socrates by Richard D. McKirahan
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Since its publication in 1994, Richard McKirahan’s Philosophy Before Socrates has become the standard sourcebook in Presocratic philosophy. It provides a wide survey of Greek science, metaphysics, and moral and political philosophy, from their roots in myth to the philosophers and Sophists of the fifth century. A comprehensive selection of fragments and testimonia, translated by the author, is presented in the context of a thorough and accessible discussion. An introductory chapter deals with the sources of Presocratic and Sophistic texts and the special problems of interpretation they present.

In its second edition, this work has been updated and expanded to reflect important new discoveries and the most recent scholarship. Changes and additions have been made throughout, the most significant of which are found in the chapters on the Pythagoreans, Parmenides, Zeno, Anaxagoras, and Empedocles, and the new chapter on Philolaus. The translations of some passages have been revised, as have some interpretations and discussions. A new Appendix provides translations of three Hippocratic writings and the Derveni papyrus.

On the First Edition:

“McKirahan has written a comprehensive guide which steers totally clear of either simplification or mystification. Philosophy Before Socrates combines impeccable translations of the primary texts with commentary that is historically responsible and philosophically stimulating, firm guidance with unobtrusiveness. He encourages his readers to think for themselves, but he gives them a great deal of help in the way of background information, scholarly aids, and skillful dissection of competing interpretations. What stands out above all is the up-to-date scholarship and analytical acumen, the sensitivity to social context and the accessibility. The book is a great achievement: it will rapidly establish itself as the standard course-text for introducing students to early Greek philosophy.”
—A. A. Long, Professor of Classics and Irving G. Stone Professor of Literature, University of California, Berkeley

Richard D. McKirahan is Edwin Clarence Norton Professor of Classics and Professor of Philosophy at Pomona College.

Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.; March 2011
512 pages; ISBN 9781603845618
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Title: Philosophy Before Socrates
Author: Richard D. McKirahan
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