By Ava Chitwood
How does one die by means of philosophy? In Diogenes Laertius, philosophers bounce into volcanoes, bury themselves in dung, get eaten by means of canines, hold themselves, drown, and vanish into skinny air -- occasionally all in one lifetime. yet what occurs after we glance past the wonderful and absurd to envision 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 within which the paintings of philosophers like Empedocles, Heraclitus, and Democritus was once learn, acquired, and transmitted. Chitwood's research additionally indicates a technique for realizing the interaction among biography and philosophy and for comparing biographical sources.
While Chitwood's process combines the disciplines of classical philology and philosophy, demise by means of Philosophy isn't meant exclusively for the expert. This research bargains the trendy reader a desirable, clean, and exciting view of the traditional literary and philosophical world.
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Extra resources for Death by Philosophy: The Biographical Tradition in the Life and Death of the Archaic Philosophers Empedocles, Heraclitus, and Democritus
Regularly, it really is their notoriety, and never their philosophy, that Diogenes Laertius emphasizes. Such notoriety, if it did exist and was once of curiosity to Democritus, might leisure of their philosophical doctrine of the indivisible One, which neither comes into being nor alterations, a trust that different philosophers, together with atomists equivalent to Democritus, could henceforth of necessity deal with. sixteen If Democritus did certainly point out Zeno and Parmenides, both for my part or because the spokesman of the Eleatic college linked to them, these comments are actually misplaced to us. we will be able to basically posit their philosophical impression on Democritus as on different philosophers of the period. there isn't, besides the fact that, any necessity, except biographical, to adduce a private dating among them, as does Diogenes Laertius. 17 notwithstanding, Diogenes Laertius’ account nonetheless services usefully for example of biographical approach normally and of the topos within which philosophical impression is elaborated right into a own courting particularly. For within the subsequent file, we discover that Anaxagoras is usually pointed out as one in all Democritus’ academics and that this courting is additionally complex by means of a chain of overlapping biographical conventions. As we commence to split lecturers and biographical traditions, we discover that numerous diversifications of the student-teacher topos exist within the lifetime of Democritus for numerous diversified purposes. thus far, we've seen that pointing out somebody (and, as we'll see, no longer declaring an individual) used to be appropriate grounds for assuming own or specialist relationships (Oenopides as Democritus’ instructor, for instance) that shared citizenship may be elaborated right into a student-teacher dating (Democritus as Protagoras’ teacher), and student-teacher courting can be inferred from philosophical ideals or reactions to different philosophical ideals (e. g. , Democritus’ atomic concept in respond to Parmenides and Zeno at the doctrine of the indivisible One turns into a biographical culture of Parmenides as Democritus’ teacher). a lot of those relationships, as famous, are brought by means of obscure words, reminiscent of “others point out” or “it is said,” and the following too, we discover Diogenes Laertius utilizing related phraseology. Diogenes Laertius tells us that Democritus 98 D E AT H B Y P H I L O S O P H Y “met” Anaxagoras and Leucippus, philosophers who, back, aren't often linked via situation, dates, or philosophical ideals. 18 Anaxagoras, regrettably, is notoriously difficult up to now and can't be governed out on chronological grounds by myself, even supposing I keep on with Kirk and Raven19 in assigning him dates of ca. 500–428 BCE, with a floruit of ca. 480 BCE, which areas his start date approximately 40 years after that of Democritus. So whereas it's not chronologically very unlikely for the 2 to have met, there's no actual facts for it, no matter if we imagine, as many do, that Democritus traveled to Athens at least one time (a relatively doubtful fragment, mentioned later during this bankruptcy, states that “I got here to Athens and not anyone knew me.