College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
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Recommended Readings

Texts -of -Early -Greek The Texts of Early Greek Philosophers, The Complete Fragments and Selected Testimonies of the Major Presocratics

by Daniel Graham, Cambridge University Press, 2010

Reviewed by Tiberiu Popa

Almost everyone knows something about Plato's and Aristotle's respective doctrines, but many tend to forget that their theories were partly intended to be responses to the views set forth by earlier philosophers. This book, exploring those earlier thinkers, is one of the most complete collections of Presocratic texts (in the original and in translation). These texts have been preserved in fragmentary form or have survived indirectly, through various summaries and paraphrases; therefore, it takes a considerable amount of insight and of textual archeology to plausibly reconstruct the overall outline of those original writings or the functions and semantic spheres of many seminal concepts - and, indeed, that is one of the chief qualities of this book. Its first volume is devoted mainly to natural philosophers, although quite a few of them made lasting contributions to what we would call today metaphysics (for instance, Parmenides) and epistemology (e.g., Heraclitus). The second volume includes texts by or pertaining to the Sophists (some of the 'Presocratics', we shouldn't forget, were actually contemporaries of Socrates).To each Presocratic thinker Daniel Graham has devoted a section including a general introduction, a virtually exhaustive set of fragments (and / or testimonies offered by later authors), a succinct but very helpful commentary, and a detailed bibliography. Anyone interested in the very origins of philosophy and of science will appreciate the expertise elegantly displayed in these two volumes.

- Tiberiu Popa is Associate Professor of Mathematics Philosophy at Butler University.