[Prime] A History of Philosophy, Vol 1: Greece and Rome, From the Pre-Socratics to PlotinusAuthor Frederick Charles Copleston – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk

Well written, extensive and informative, objective and respectful, systematic and complete The best history of philosophy anyone could ask for, across all both general and specific overviews I m aware of Thanks to the anon who shat on Russel and recommend this as an alternative. This series is probably the best general overview of the history of philosophy currently available The prose can be somewhat dry and technical, but this is to be expected Volume One is best read with greek english and latin english dictionaries close at hand. Returning to reading philosophy as a project , I decided to begin with Copleston s history This was recommended background reference material for my college History of Philosophy classes back in 1971 72, but at the time I only finished six or seven of the nine volumes The tenth and eleventh volumes seen in one reprint edition are a collection of articles and a separate book not intended as part of the History Father Copleston was a Jesuit priest, who began this as a history for students in Catholic seminaries who were simultaneously studying Thomist philosophy It quickly became a standard history outside that target audience because there was nothing approaching a comprehensive history of philosophy in English at the time which was at all recent or based on contemporary scholarship This first book in particular bears the marks of its original purpose, with constant comparisons of the systems described to the truth as understood by St Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic Church The next two volumes of course are on mediaeval, mainly Catholic philosophy, which is Copleston s forte and which is never treated sufficiently in secular histories, while by the time he got to modern philosophy he was consciously writing for a largely non Catholic audience Although his comments sometimes seem rather intrusive to a non Catholic reader, they are always clearly separated from his descriptions, and there is something to be said for having a known, admitted bias that one can take into account and correct for as opposed to a supposedly objective text where the bias and there will always be a bias in a field as controversy laden as philosophy has to be guessed at from the treatment itself Moreover, when he arrives at the modern systems, his own views are so totally foreign to the systems discussed that he is probably objective than any secular writer could be, who would necessarily sympathize with one of the tendencies under discussion.There is however, one important problem due to his viewpoint, which is in the selection of what he discusses and what he leaves out He is clearly weakest on the Presocratics, and in fact he begins with an apologia for including them at all his justifcation is that they are needed to understand where Plato and Aristotle are coming from So he discusses them largely from that perspective, and also accepts Aristotle s view that they are talking about what Aristotle is talking about, a metaphysical substratum, where in fact in my opinion they are doing something totally different, namely cosmogeny talking about not what the world is but where it came from His discussion of Plato and Aristotle occupies most of the book, and is very thorough, and probably as accurate as could be hoped for in a book this size These are difficult thinkers, and refreshingly he does not dumb down his treatment his target audience of seminarians he assumes has some reading knowledge of Greek and Latin, and some prior knowlege of philosophy from a Catholic viewpoint He gives space than most recent histories of Greek thought to the post Aristotelian systems, since he naturally considers neo Platonism as the culminating synthesis on the point of being taken into Christian theology Within the systems, it is sometimes frustrating to a non religious person that he will mention that a philosopher wrote on logical or epistemological issues, then pass over that to describe in detail what he is interested in what they thought about God and the soul, and how it is similar or different from the true account of the Church While taken as a whole, Copleston s history is probably still one of the best at least in comprehensiveness and refusal to oversimplify , this particular volume is not the best part of his history or the best work on the history of Greek philosophy I would have to nominate W.K.C Guthrie s multi volume History of Greek Philosophy for that and there are many better books on specific tendencies or philosophers. By the spring of eighty I d been out of school for almost two years Work in psychiatric childcare adolescent boys which had filled that time was personally, but not professionally, rewarding The living situation had, however, vastly improved since moving in with the brothers Miley the spring previous Socially, they had helped me reintegrate with old high school friends, many of whom I hadn t seen for the nine years I d been away in college and seminary.Intellectually, however, I was dissatisfied Michael Miley styled himself a writer and acted accordingly Beyond letters, and there were lots of those, I was out of the habit Indeed, only the spur of school, of being assured readers and intelligent criticism, had ever inspired me to write seriously since childhood Although the threshold to writing was high, I d learned to enjoy crossing it and missed the inspiration and opportunities school afforded Working ten hour shifts was simply not compatible.Thus far my academic training had led me from general liberal arts to history, to ancient history and textual criticism on the one hand while leading me to the same result through the study of continental depth psychology on the other The same fascination with understanding very different mentalities united my interests in both the ancients and those alienists who, like Freud and Jung, saw and sought connections between the bizarre ideations of their patients and the thought forms expressed in the ancient texts.Clearly, the next step was to study philosophy and to do so much systematically than previously Thus, Copleston s first volume and, eventually, matriculation in Loyola University Chicago. he uses general views on the issue under focus to get to the specifics He turns the disadvantage of his believes effecting on his writings as a mean to make the text fluent but I have to admit it s a bit dry and sometimes his beliefs are overly stressed in statements he made but overall it s a good reading of history of Philosophy. Few expository works have achieved as unanimous authority as A History of Philosophy series Having just finished the first entry, now I can see why.As it is clear from the title, this is an overview of history of philosophy, stretched over 10 volumes Copleston undertook this massive project to supply Catholic ecclesiastical seminaries with a work that should be somewhat detailed and of wider scope than the text books commonly in use and which at the same time should endeavor to exhibit the logical development and inter connection of philosophical systems It is indeed considerably detailed than any other work of similar scope, and has wider scope than any other work of similar depth.Any negative comment I can make on this work would be mere nitpick, and any praise by me would be admiration rather than critical approval All I can say that would possibly be worth to hear is this From where I am standing, namely an amateur philosophy student, nothing looks improvable in this volume.It was a long and tedious read and I can safely say that philosophy remains out of my reading plans for a few months to come I also do not know whether I can stand a 600 pages long history of almost entirely Christian philosophy, which happens to be content of the second volume In any case, every single volume of the series, including the second, is in my to read list for now. 160314 this volume stands for all nine of Copleston s A History of Philosophy Conceived Originally As A Serious Presentation Of The Development Of Philosophy For Catholic Seminary Students, Frederick Copleston S Nine Volume A History Of Philosophy Has Journeyed Far Beyond The Modest Purpose Of Its Author To Universal Acclaim As The Best History Of Philosophy In EnglishCopleston, An Oxford Jesuit Of Immense Erudition Who Once Tangled With A J Ayer In A Fabled Debate About The Existence Of God And The Possibility Of Metaphysics, Knew That Seminary Students Were Fed A Woefully Inadequate Diet Of Theses And Proofs, And That Their Familiarity With Most Of History S Great Thinkers Was Reduced To Simplistic Caricatures Copleston Set Out To Redress The Wrong By Writing A Complete History Of Western Philosophy, One Crackling With Incident And Intellectual Excitement And One That Gives Full Place To Each Thinker, Presenting His Thought In A Beautifully Rounded Manner And Showing His Links To Those Who Went Before And To Those Who Came After Him The Result Of Copleston S Prodigious Labors Is A History Of Philosophy That Is Unlikely Ever To Be Surpassed Thought Magazine Summed Up The General Agreement Among Scholars And Students Alike When It Reviewed Copleston S A History Of Philosophy As Broad Minded And Objective, Comprehensive And Scholarly, Unified And Well Proportioned We Cannot Recommend It Too Highly This book is too biased I didn t even finish reading the first chapter In the introduction he even bashes biased historians Poo poo, I was very excited to pick this up as well.