A Companion to Ancient Philosophy

by: Mary Louise Gill and Pierre Pellegrin

Our aim as editors of A Companion to Ancient Philosophy is to show how specialists today read the texts of the Greek and Roman philosophers. To indicate the range of work in this field, we have solicited contributors from the United States and Canada, from numerous European countries (Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy) and from Japan. In addition to senior scholars, we have also invited a number of younger specialists in the history of ancient philosophy, who are destined, in the near future, not only to continue the work of their predecessors, but also to revise their approaches, methods, and results. We want to demonstrate, in a general way, that it is philosophically important to do the history of philosophy, and especially the history of ancient philosophy. The need to justify this enterprise is not as longstanding as one might think, since the idea that it is philosophically important to do the history of philosophy and even, quite simply, that “doing the history of philosophy” has a meaning, are not very old claims but date back at most to the end of the eighteenth century. Even if one admits the importance of the history of philosophy in philosophical activity, one might ask more particularly: Why is a work like ours useful, given that since the second half of the nineteenth century at least, histories of ancient philosophy have been written according to “scientific” criteria that are still roughly ours? In answering the particular question, we will make some remarks about the more general question.

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