By Ava Chitwood

How does one die by means of philosophy? In Diogenes Laertius, philosophers bounce into volcanoes, bury themselves in dung, get eaten through canines, dangle themselves, drown, and vanish into skinny air -- occasionally all in one lifetime. yet what occurs once we glance past the glorious and absurd to ascertain the actual ways in which the philosophers' lives and deaths are recounted?

Ava Chitwood's reexamination of Diogenes Laertius's philosophical biographies opens a brand new window at the highbrow tradition and context during which the paintings of philosophers like Empedocles, Heraclitus, and Democritus was once learn, obtained, and transmitted. Chitwood's research additionally indicates a strategy for figuring out the interaction among biography and philosophy and for comparing biographical sources.

While Chitwood's method combines the disciplines of classical philology and philosophy, demise through Philosophy isn't meant exclusively for the professional. This research bargains the fashionable reader a desirable, clean, and unique view of the traditional literary and philosophical world.

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Additional resources for Death by Philosophy: The Biographical Tradition in the Life and Death of the Archaic Philosophers Empedocles, Heraclitus, and Democritus

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Heraclitus is the worst, or so much absolutely illustrative, instance of this tendency; there's scarcely a statement or textual content that doesn't subscribe, even if subtly, to notions of misanthropy or depression that experience crept into philosophical interpretation. Of equivalent, if now not better crisis, is the new and really stressful tendency of a few students to reshoulder West’s and Bernal’s burden of uploading jap ideals and origins to western philosophers akin to Empedocles. Empedocles isn't a mystic, a magician, or, God aid us, a shaman; to signify that Empedocles is except a thinker is to discredit the western, Greek culture of philosophical proposal and hypothesis and to discover absolutely the worst in biographers like Diogenes Laertius. Suggesting that Empedocles truly played resurrections or believing that he laid claims to preventing the wind verges at the farcical, in particular while used to aid another way untenable convictions, reminiscent of that Empedocles used to be an jap mystic. Empedocles continually has been, and constantly may be, famous as a Greek thinker whose paintings and ideology are a part of the bigger archaic Greek global of concept, that's, of a specific time and position, which can't be falsely put within the jap culture to fit one’s personal idiosyncratic model of japanese philosophy. nobody denies the energy and significance of the east within the early background of Greece; not anyone may still deny the power and significance of the early philosophers of Greek suggestion. nevertheless, a scholarly assessment is in growth, adequately led by means of students akin to Osborne, Riginos, and Waugh, of the textual content and context within which historical suggestion is couched. those authors argue convincingly of the significance of studying archaic philosophers and Plato in and during their unique shape and layout, Empedocles in epic poetry and Plato in discussion shape. Hitherto, the mode has been, back, to style throughout the literary chaff (poetry and discussion) to sift out philosophical formulation, definition, and conclusions, and to disregard the atmosphere during which these kind of happen. Plato’s writing is brushed off and lowered as a skillful yet nonetheless a little clumsy precursor to the Aristotelian treatise, Empedocles’ epic poetry patronized and missed or obvious against his philosophic concept. For these engaged within the learn of historic biography, the results of this paintings could be transparent: if, as Lefkowitz has proven, the lives of the poets, Conclusion one hundred forty five as they've got come right down to us, are suspect, it increases questions about how we learn our texts and what we may perhaps correctly infer from them. no less than, it makes it crucial that we don't settle for any textual content at its face price, yet that we search to reconcile our interpretation of it with interpretations of alternative classical texts. i'll depart to the philosophers to attract the consequences for his or her personal box, other than to nation the really visible one: one can't learn the biographies of the philosophers as offering facts for interpretation of early philosophical texts.

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