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The Presocratic Philosophers: A Critical History with a Selection of Texts

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  563 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Beginning with a revised introduction surveying the predecessors of the Presocratics, this new edition traces the intellectual revolution initiated by Thales in the early 6th century B.C. to its culmination in the metaphysics of Parmenides and the physical theories of Anaxagoras and the Atomists of the fifth century.
Paperback, 2nd edition, 518 pages
Published May 1st 2015 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1957)
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Feb 03, 2012 AC rated it it was ok
(Here's a follow-up comment that I should probably lodge here, so it doesn't get completely lost:

This book is a disgrace, while Kirk was a competent scholar, his book on Heraclitus is quite good, though flawed, Raven was an idiot... and Schofield has here made an old book that at least was servicable almost worthless. They are completely unreliable guides to what the Presocratics, both individually and collectively are all about. Sorry to burst anyone's b
Jacques Bromberg
Dec 19, 2006 Jacques Bromberg rated it really liked it
Kirk, Raven, and Schofield provide useful notes in what is probably the best single English-language guide to the Presocratics.
Jan 20, 2008 Alan rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
My first philosophy text, where I learned Heraclitus only wrote in fragments.
Dr. A
Read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of (a thinkPhilosophy Production).

Birthed in wonder, the Western tradition of Philosophy begins with these Presocratic philosophers of nature who were the first to ask: What are all existing things made of? Is it one or many elemental substances? Is there such a thing as nothingness or the void? Is continual change the nature of reality, or are some things unchanging and eternal?
Aug 02, 2009 Styer rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books ever. It starts with the very earliest Greek philosophers, who were much more like religious mystics than philosophers. The philosophers are discussed in a mostly linear history, and it's kind of amazing to watch them develop complex thought. You also discover great historical tidbits, for instance, that Pythagoras almost certainly did not come up with the things attributed to him. Rather, he was a cult leader who taught, among other strange things, that beans should not ...more
Jul 13, 2007 Penniphurr rated it liked it
This was my favorite pre-socratic reference book back in college.
Chema Mínguez
Un clásico, de ésos que te recomendaban en la Facultad, el equivalente a un #youmust aquel entonces.

Y allí nos repetían la rubiconada clásica de que la filosofía era el paso del mito al logos:

El monolito de 2001 en el siglo V a.C.
El nacimiento del discurso racional, la eclosión de la inteligencia.
El caminar frente al gateo estéril, la luz frente a las tinieblas, el amor por la sabiduría frente a la mitontería.
Así de drástico, puro y radical.
Porque nosotros... Éramos filósofos!

El reduccionis
A. J. McMahon
This book is very scholarly, very thorough, well researched, etc. and I found it gave me a very good overview of the presocratic philosophers, but it failed to be inspirational or enlightening or memorable. It was definitely worth reading, and it made very clear that we live today in such a different world to the presocratics that we must be careful about assuming how much we actually understand them, but in the end I didn't get all that much out of them. The chapter on Zeno was absolutely terri ...more
Marcos Buccellato
Dec 21, 2010 Marcos Buccellato rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro excelente que da una introducción a los filósofos presocráticos a través de una lectura de los fragmentos existentes de las obras de los diferentes pensadores. Cada sección está dedicada a un filósofo y tiene una pequeña introducción que esta seguida por los diferentes fragmentos ordenados por temas. Esta forma de ordenar es bastante ventajosa en algunos casos ya que le brinda una estructura a los fragmentos, algo que para algunos pensadores es muy útil debido al poco material existente ...more
Dr. George H. Elder
Jun 27, 2012 Dr. George H. Elder rated it really liked it
This book covers a lot of ground, beginning with Thales and going up to Diogenes. The authors use the extant fragments to detail the varies ideas of the ancients with regard to cosmology and metaphysics, and do a credible job for the most part. There are some authorial intrusions that go beyond what the fragments imply, and I found that annoying at times. However, my only real complaint comes with the covering of Pythagoras, which seems to me as much based on opinions as it is on the fragments. ...more
Dec 04, 2008 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Supplies the reader with the writings of the pre-Socratic philosophers both in the original Greek and in English translation. Includes detailed commentary on the fragments and passages, showing how the different philosophic thoughts fit into each philosopher’s system, and how those thoughts and systems fit into the development of Greek pre-Socratic thought in general. Moreover, the range of these early thinkers is impressive: not only is there metaphysics and ethics, but there is also dialectics ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 13, 2011 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ancient Greek philosophy fans
Recommended to Erik by: Peter Maxwell
Shelves: philosophy
I read this collection for Maxwell's History of Ancient Philosophy course during the second semester of 1980/81 at Loyola University Chicago along with a similar collection edited and translated by, as I recall, Wainright. Having read all the Presocratic fragments in several similar collections, it is difficult to remember the differences between them. In any case, on this occasion and for this course my primary interest was with Parmenides about whose Proem I composed the required term paper.
Jul 03, 2007 dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
started rereading paramenides take on metaphysics after a boozy night of argument at the local watering hole. which is more valid?? "the way of truth" or "the way of seeming" kirk and raven's book is by far the best out there for anything presocratic, they include the orginal greek fragments as well as their translations for those whose ancient greek has lapsed due to misuse. while experiencing paramenides again there are hints and foreshadowing to baudrillard's theories on simulacrum.
Oct 13, 2014 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is an excellent scholarly work about the Presocratic philosophers. It has the Greek text, the English text, commentary, and introductory materials. The writing isn't bad, but is a little wordy as one might suspect. Must for doing work with the Presocratics. This book is the same as
Oct 13, 2014 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This is an excellent scholarly work about the Presocratic philosophers. It has the Greek text, the English text, commentary, and introductory materials. The writing isn't bad, but is a little wordy as one might suspect. Must for doing work with the Presocratics.
Desaray Granzow
Jul 10, 2008 Desaray Granzow rated it it was amazing
This is the best collection of Presocratic philosophy done in the proper movement through works/authors (when known) and really demonstrates the evolution of philosophy leading up to where most of us just start to explore philosophy.
Mar 05, 2012 Daniel rated it it was ok
It was okay. The majority of the book was Greek/Latin fragments with English translations accompanying them, followed by a lot of textual criticism/interpretations by scholars/etc. and then brief comments about the text.

It became very unreadable as time went on.
Jul 12, 2008 Ammon rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ammon by: Walter Brogan
A very good introduction to and consideration of the Presocratic philosophers. The biggest problem with it is that the editors don't include all the fragments and they number them in their own idiosyncratic fashion instead of following the Diels Kranz numberings which are standard.
Vasilis Kanatas
Apr 14, 2013 Vasilis Kanatas rated it it was amazing
This book is a point of reference for the subject of the Presocratic Philosophers. It is mentioning almost every sigle ancient text regarding these Philosophers with a decent commentary. It can be used by researchers because it contains all those ancient writtings in one volume.
Apr 20, 2016 Claudia rated it liked it
A Tour de Force on Presocratic philosophers. This book is a reference in that era and ought to be read by those interested in philosophy history (especially presocratic philosophers). Get ready for a jargon storm (and a lot of greek too) but if you are interested you should read it.
James Violand
Jul 11, 2011 James Violand rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone with gray matter.
Shelves: own
A composite work on philosophers who preceded Socrates. Not nearly as engaging as Jonathan Barnes' wonderfully written book, it still gives a further account of the great minds in Ancient Greece.
Jim Syler
Jul 21, 2012 Jim Syler rated it really liked it
Pretty much everything important that we have of the writings of the presocratic philosophers, neatly and intelligently organized. An excellent resource.
Aug 12, 2007 L S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this book in part to meet a degree requirement. It's, however, the standard repository for pre-socratic exsigua, translation, and commentary although somewhat dated.
David Anderson
Nov 04, 2012 David Anderson rated it it was amazing
An excellent resource for Pre-Socratic thought. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that each quote and excerpt is in the original Greek followed by a translation.
Güis Guerrero-Enterría
Es un clásico de referencia sobre los filósofos presocráticos. esta en una nueva edición. pasa el tiempo pero no se queda viejo.
Jul 25, 2011 David rated it liked it
Before Plato and Socrates there was Pythagoras, Anaxagoras and Diogenes, to name a few. The Greek mind strove to understand the mysterious world around them and this is a great study of these men.
Samantha Devin
Samantha Devin rated it it was amazing
Apr 05, 2015
Millicent rated it liked it
Apr 05, 2013
Meg rated it really liked it
Aug 30, 2007
Hamid rated it it was ok
Mar 23, 2012
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  • The Complete Works: The Revised Oxford Translation, Vol. 1
  • Lysis/Symposium/Gorgias (Loeb Classical Library 166)
  • Early Greek Philosophy
  • Parmenides of Elea: Fragments: A Text and Translation with an Introduction
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  • The Concept of Irony/Schelling Lecture Notes (Kierkegaard's Writings, Volume 2)
  • Persecution and the Art of Writing
  • What Is Ancient Philosophy?
  • Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel
  • Selected Philosophical Writings
  • The HarperCollins Study Bible: Fully Revised & Updated
  • The Ethics/Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect/Selected Letters
  • The Presocratics
  • A History of Philosophy 2: Medieval Philosophy
  • Plato I: Euthyphro. Apology. Crito. Phaedo. Phaedrus. (Loeb Classical Library, #36)
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