Type Book
Date 2004-04-22
Pages 144
Series Very Short Introductions (103)
Tags nonfiction, philosophy, presocratic philosophy

Presocratic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction

Osborne avoids the common presentation of the presocratics as essentially cosmologists responding to one another in a linear sequence, and particularly questions whether Parmenides was responding to Heraclitus or vice versa.

The book opens with a motivating discussion of a papyrus newly assembled in 1992 containing fragments of Empedocles which brings into question the division between his mystical and cosmological writings (by plausibly indicating they were contained in a single work).

The takeaway is that we should recognize the Presocratics as thinkers with a wide variety of interests, just as we would expect of later philosophers.

Name Role
Catherine Osborne Author
Oxford University Press Publisher


A note on the pronunciation xiv
Introduction xv
1: Lost words, forgotten worlds 1
2: Puzzles about first principles 29
3: Zeno's tortoise 51
4: Reality and appearance: more adventures in metaphysics 61
5: Heraclitus 80
6: Pythagoras and other mysteries 97
7: Spin doctors of the 5th century 112
Epilogue 133
Further reading 136
Index 141