Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic: Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition

Paperback | December 1, 1996

byPeter Kingsley

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Empedocles played a crucial role in the development of western culture; yet little is known or understood about this man, who lived in Sicily in the fifth-century BC. This is mainly becuase his teaching has been reconstructed by modern shcolars first and formost on the basis of Aristotle'shostile reports - producing a picture which is disconnected and lacking in depth. Using material never exploited before, Peter Kingsley presents the first full-scale study of Empedocles to situate his fragmentary writings in their original context of philosophy as a way of life, mystery religionand magic, and of the struggle to realize one's own divinity. This study also explores fresh evidence which proves Empedocles was not an isolated figure and reveals new links between his work and ancient Pythagoreanism. The process of establishing these links now makes it possible to demonstrate,in detail, the Pythagorean origin of Plato's myths. Kingsley re-examines problems regarding the connections between ancient magic, science, and religion. More specifically, he traces for the first time a line of transmission from Empedocles and the early Pythagoreans down to southern Egypt, andfrom there into the world of Islam. `highly polemical new book... The thesis is argued with immense learning.' Times Higher Education Supplement

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Empedocles played a crucial role in the development of western culture; yet little is known or understood about this man, who lived in Sicily in the fifth-century BC. This is mainly becuase his teaching has been reconstructed by modern shcolars first and formost on the basis of Aristotle'shostile reports - producing a picture which is...

Peter Kingsley formerly Fellow of the Warburg Institute, London, and Harold Hyam Wingate Scholar.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.98 inPublished:December 1, 1996Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198150814

ISBN - 13:9780198150817

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`This work is without doubt the most important book on Empedocles in recent years and one of the most significant in early Greek thought since the writings of F. Cornford saw the light of day. This book is of great significance for the study of early Greek thought and presents a majortransformation of view as far as Empedocles and Pythagoras as well as the relation of Pythagoreanism to Plato are concerned ... the book of Kingsley is of singular importance in the study of the Islamic intellectual tradition, while being of an even greater singificance for the field of Greek andWestern philosophy, since it challenges the commonly held view of the whole foundation of Western philosophical thought.'Seyyed Hossein Masr, George Washington University, The Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2 '97