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Socrates, Ironist and Moral Philosopher


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About the Author

Gregory Vlastos (1907-1991) was Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University and at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1990, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. His other books include Socratic Studies; Studies in Greek Philosophy, Volumes I and II; and Plato's Universe.


Vlastos is the greatest living writer on Greek philosophy, and his book on the historical Socrates--many years in the making--has been eagerly awaited. Although the main arguments have appeared in previous articles, their synthesis produces a remarkably cohesive and original philosophical portrait. Vlastos illuminates Socrates' irony, elenchus (means of refutation), disavowal of knowledge, religion, moral radicalism, and eudaimonism (the theory that right actions produce happiness). The book displays the verve, lucidity, rigor, erudition, and imagination that have made Vlastos's work a model for several generations of scholars. Indispensable for both academic and larger general collections.-- Richard Hogan, Southeastern Massachusetts Univ., North Dartmouth

"This is the best book available on its subject. No other book written by someone with such deep knowledge can speak with so much authority to scholars and still be so enjoyable for general readers. Philosophical writing now tends to be excessively technical and academic. Socrates, Ironist and Moral Philosopher is not; it can take many different kinds of people to the heart of the most puzzling and important features of Socrates."-Julia Annas, New York Times Book Review "Gregory Vlastos's book begins from the conviction that Socrates' strangeness is 'the key to his philosophy.' It is a marvelous book, in which no major aspect of Socrates' career is eclipsed. The rigor of his arguments, the depth of his moral commitment and understanding, his complex relationship to Athenian ethical traditions, his rational religion: all this comes to life in writing whose vigor and lucidity put the challenge of Socrates squarely before the reader... It deserves as much honor as any work of scholarship in Greek philosophy in this century."-Martha C. Nussbaum, The New Republic "What can be surmised about this extraordinary and arresting figure has been brilliantly presented and argued in this closely reasoned book, for which we are all greatly in Gregory Vlastas's debt."-Charles Taylor, Times Literary Supplement

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