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The Origins of Philosophy in Ancient Greece and Ancient India: A Historical Comparison

Richard Seaford (University of Exeter)

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Cambridge University Press
05 December 2019
Ancient history: to c 500 CE; Philosophy; Western philosophy: Ancient, to c 500; Non-Western philosophy; Oriental & Indian philosophy
Why did Greek philosophy begin in the sixth century BCE? Why did Indian philosophy begin at about the same time? Why did the earliest philosophy take the form that it did? Why was this form so similar in Greece and India? And how do we explain the differences between them? These questions can only be answered by locating the philosophical intellect within its entire societal context, ignoring neither ritual nor economy. The cities of Greece and northern India were in this period distinctive also by virtue of being pervasively monetised. The metaphysics of both cultures is marked by the projection (onto the cosmos) and the introjection (into the inner self) of the abstract, all-pervasive, quasi-omnipotent, impersonal substance embodied in money (especially coinage). And in both cultures this development accompanied the interiorisation of the cosmic rite of passage (in India sacrifice, in Greece mystic initiation).
By:   Richard Seaford (University of Exeter)
Imprint:   Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 157mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   680g
ISBN:   9781108499552
ISBN 10:   1108499554
Pages:   358
Publication Date:   05 December 2019
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Part I. Introductory: 1. Summary; 2. Explanations; Part II. The Earliest Texts: 3. Sacrifice and reciprocity in the earliest texts; 4. Self, society, and universe in the earliest texts; Part III. Unified Self, Monism, And Cosmic Cycle in India: 5. The economics of sacrifice; 6. Inner self and universe; 7. The powerful individual; 8. The formation of monism; 9. The hereafter; 10. Reincarnation and karma; Part IV. Unified Self, Monism, And Cosmic Cycle in Greece: 11. Psuche and the interiorisation of mystery-cult; 12. Monism and inner self; 13. Money and the inner self in Greece; 14. Community and individual; 15. Plato; Part V. Conclusion: 16. The complex imagining of universe and inner self; 17. Ritual, money, society and metaphysics.

Richard Seaford is Emeritus Professor of Ancient Greek at the University of Exeter. His books include commentaries on Euripides' Cyclops and on Euripides' Bacchae, as well as Reciprocity and Ritual (1994), Dionysos (2006), Money and the Early Greek Mind (Cambridge, 2004), and Cosmology and the Polis (Cambridge, 2012). A volume of his selected papers has recently been published entitled Tragedy, Ritual and Money in Ancient Greece (Cambridge, 2018).

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