Learning to Philosophize in Ancient Greece
Original title: Apprendre a philosopher dans l’antiquite
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This book by Ilsetraut and Pierre Hadot is an introduction to the Handbook of Epictetus, a great stoic work from the 2nd century AD, and to the commentary of the Handbook written three centuries later by a Neoplatonician, Simplicius. A global approach to these works, their formal and doctrinal characteristics, and the study of a few selected themes (the distinction between “what depends on us” and “what does not depend on us,” the parables of the stepping over and the banquet, the relationship between religion and philosophy) allow to define fundamental philosophical attitudes connected with the matters of piety, destiny and free will, or our relationship to death and pains. In this way, this two-authored book is mainly a meditation upon the fundamental meaning of philosophical activity in antiquity; as the writers say: “by using an exegetic method, we intended to answer an interrogation, historical and existential at once: how did they learn to philosophize in antiquity? For the Handbook and its commentary may provide us with precious pieces of information about the exact nature and the practice of antic philosophy.”
A French philosopher and historian of antiquity, Pierre Hadot, professor emeritus at the Collège de France, is the author of a modern and major work mainly centred upon the notion of spiritual exercise and philosophy as a way of living.