Presocratics and Plato: Festschrift at Delphi in Honor of Charles Kahn. Edited by Richard Patterson , Vassilis Karasmanis , and Arnold Hermann . Pp. xxix, 599, Las Vegas, Parmenides Publishing, 2013, $87.00.
Article first published online: 29 NOV 2013
© 2013 Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes Registered
The Heythrop Journal
Volume 55, Issue 1, pages 128–129, January 2014
How to Cite
Waterfield, R. (2014), Presocratics and Plato: Festschrift at Delphi in Honor of Charles Kahn. Edited by Richard Patterson , Vassilis Karasmanis , and Arnold Hermann . Pp. xxix, 599, Las Vegas, Parmenides Publishing, 2013, $87.00. The Heythrop Journal, 55: 128–129. doi: 10.1111/heyj.12064_6
- Issue published online: 29 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 29 NOV 2013
Charles Kahn has been a major presence in the world of ancient Greek philosophy since his first publications at the end of the 1950s. The present volume, a Festschrift, contains an 11-page list of his publications, and anyone working in the field will instantly recognize many of the titles and know their importance. Post-Aristotelian philosophy features rarely, Aristotle somewhat less rarely, Plato (especially ‘early’ Plato) and the Presocratics heavily. Hence the title and focus of this book, though in fact of the three essays in the fourth and final section of the book, ‘Plato and Beyond’, two are on Neoplatonism (the other on Aristotle). The other sections are: ‘The Presocratics’ (six essays); ‘Plato: Studies in Individual Dialogues’ (nine essays); and ‘Themes in Plato’ (five essays). Given Kahn's longevity and importance, it is no surprise to see that the list of contributors, friends and students, is star-studded.
Enrique Piccone reads Heraclitus B6 as an instance of general Heraclitean principles regarding flux, renewal, and human incomprehension. Alexander Mourelatos reconsiders the text of Parmenides B14 and strengthens the case that Parmenides was the first to appreciate that the moon gets its light from the sun. Diskin Clay examines the new Strasbourg papyrus of Empedocles, adding to the increasing scholarly consensus that he wrote a single poem, not two. Richard McKirahan discusses the cosmogony of the Derveni papyrus. John Dillon asks whether Critias should count as a philosopher, or just a typical Athenian intellectual. Carl Huffman argues that Aristoxenus' account of Pythagoras can add to our exiguous knowledge of Pythagoras himself.
David Sedley defends the ‘Cyclical Argument’ of Phaedo 70–71, not as sound, but as intended by Plato to be taken seriously. Julia Annas studies the relation between virtue and law in Republic, and contrasts it with that of Laws. Vassilis Karasmanis consders the relations of the second part of Parmenides to the first part, and to Republic, concluding that it is a purely formal exercise in the methodology of investigating first principles. Arnold Hermann's take on the second part of Parmenides is quite different, seeing it as fully fledged metaphysics, but the stimulating main point of his paper is to argue that Plato avoids and argues against the self-predication of Forms. Lesley Brown reconsiders the ‘baffling’ Sophist 257–259. Sarah Broadie finds Plato responding to fifth-century cosmological concerns in Timaeus, and includes a persuasive interpretation of the Receptacle. Satoshi Ogihara returns to the vexed issue of the ‘falseness’ of pleasure in Philebus, and stresses the role of imagination in feeling now an imagined future pleasure. Susan Sauvé Meyer comes up with an interesting new interpretation of the moral psychology of Laws 644–645 (including Phileban pleasures of anticipation). Christopher Rowe continues the thrust of some of his recent work by arguing that even in Laws Plato is pursuing Socratic projects.
Tony Long argues that we can reliably attribute the foundation of the metaphorical use of ‘slavery’ in Xenophon and Plato to the historical Socrates, and considers its use within the moral psychology of Republic. Dorothea Frede offers a ‘functional’ interpretation of Forms that avoids some of the difficulties of a radical two-world theory; this is a very important paper, to my mind. Paul Kalligas considers the relationship of Form to copy and argues that Plato was not meaning to impugn the reality of the copies, the things of this world, but only our ability to grasp them. Tomás Calvo argues that the method of hypothesis and the method of collection and division are in fact one and the same, a position which I have long felt to be true. Richard Patterson breaks new ground in thinking of Plato as a stylist, by suggesting ways in which we can grasp the slippery effect or intended effect of his powerful images, especially the myths.
In the only essay in the book on Aristotle, Aryeh Kosman argues that Aristotle's view of perception incorporates not just awareness of others, but self-awareness, as in Plato's Charmides. D.M. Hutchinson teases out distinctions between sumpatheia and sunaisthesis in Plotinus. In a final, fascinating paper Richard Sorabji argues that the Greeks and Romans played a larger part than is generally recognized in developing the concept of a moral conscience, and traces both Platonist and non-Platonist aspects of thinking on the topic, such as Socrates' ‘guardian spirit’, or the concept of being watched in Epicurus (he should have considered Critias).
This is a very important and satisfying collection of essays, priced so that most university libraries should be able to afford it. They will not regret owning it. It contains an above-average number of ground-breaking or otherwise important papers.