First published in France in 1995, Hadot's overview of ancient philosophyis quite possibly one of the best one-volume works on the subject to have appeared in English in a very long time, not only for the clarity with which it is writtenbut also for the point of view Hadot takes. In keeping with Socrates' dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living, Hadot places each philosopher or movement discussed firmly within its cultural and intellectual context and shows that philosophy was not simply a process for creating theories but, more importantly, a way of life for many. -- Terry Skeats * Library Journal * Pierre Hadot is determined to change our view of ancient philosophy, and by extension, of philosophy as a discipline Like Hadot's hero Socrates, What is Ancient Philosphy? is a triumph of irony: a meticulous historical survey that ends by inspiring the reader to actually do philosophy. Handsomely designed, with useful bibliography and chronology, it's a compact text for the 'never-ending quest.' -- Thomas D'Evelyn * Christian Science Monitor * Hadot's account moves gracefully from the beginning of philosophy among the Greeks, though its transformation under the Romans, and the encounter with Christianity, also touching on the relation between Eastern and Western philosophy. Profound learning stylishly worn makes the whole book, and the whole sweep of philosophy's first 1,000 years, accessible to any reader interested in what philosophy was like before it was taken over by the professors. -- Barry Allen * Globe & Mail * Pierre Hadot deserves to be better known to English-language readersand not just because he was a favorite of Michel Foucault's and is the man largely responsible for introducing Wittgenstein to the French. Hadot is a historian of ancient philosophy, a professor emeritus at the prestigious Collge de France. But it is more accurate to say that he is a philosopher who makes use of the ancients for his own ideas In What is Ancient Philosophy? Hadot brings all his concerns together in a small volume of extraordinary erudition and surprisingclarity of prose It is the summa of a distinguished career. -- Barry Gewen * New York Times Book Review * This is a stimulating book. Thinking comparatively about what philosophy was and is will surely enrich the field. -- R. Kamtekar * Choice * In its sweep and clarity of presentation, I would compare this book with some of the great syntheses of an earlier generationfor instance, Werner Jaeger's Paideia. At the center of the study is the strikingly original notion of the spiritual exercise, which Professor Hadot here and elsewhere shows to lie at the heart of Greek Hellenistic thinking about man, morality, and the universe. -- Brian Stock, University of Toronto Hadot's What Is Ancient Philosophy? is a wonderful book. It strives to persuade us to revise our view of philosophyto think of philosophy, as the ancients did, as crucially involving a philosophical way of life. -- Michael Frede, Oxford University This book is a masterpiece of erudition and insightit combines Pierre Hadot's extraordinary textual knowledge, his profound and original philosophical vision, and his famously lucid prose to give us a new way of approaching ancient philosophy. Beyond this, it proposes a conception of the tasks of philosophy that will be of abiding interest to philosophers and nonphilosophers alike. -- Arnold Davidson, University of Chicago
Pierre Hadot was Professor Emeritus at the Collge de France. His books include Philosophy as a Way of Life and Plotinus.
Acknowledgments Translator's Note Introduction I. The Platonic Definition of "Philosopher" and Its Antecedents 1. Philosophy before Philosophy 2. The Inception of the Idea of "Doing Philosophy" 3. The Figure of Socrates 4. The Definition of "Philosopher" in Plato's Symposium II. Philosophy as a Way of Life 5. Plato and the Academy 6. Aristotle and His School 7. The Hellenistic Schools 8. Philosophical Schools in the Imperial Period 9. Philosophy and Philosophical Discourse III. Interruption and Continuity: The Middle Ages and Modern Times 10. Christianity as a Revealed Philosophy 11. Eclipses and Recurrences of the Ancient Concept of Philosophy 12. Questions and Perspectives Notes Quotations of Ancient Texts Selected Bibliography Chronology Index