The Gang of Three: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle The Gang of Three: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle by Neel Burton should be required reading for any college class in philosophy. This is the best book on philosophy I have ever read, and I have four master’s degrees. —Philip Van Heusen for Readers' Favorite Most people go to Venice with a lover, but I went instead with Plato’s writings on love, the Lysis, Symposium, and Phaedrus, dispersed across two timeworn, clothbound Loebs that I had taken down from the top shelf on the top floor of Oxford’s best bookshop. Now that I am acquainted with the ladder of love, as you will soon be, I can see why those books were kept there, as near as possible to the sky. Like many, I had read, and been inspired by, Plato’s Apology, on the trial of Socrates, but as a young medical graduate I did not know much more about the Greek philosophers. All I had was a vague sense that they, along with Homer, sat at the beginning of Western thought and civilization, and also at their pinnacle. The trip would be an opportunity, not only to see Venice, but to dig a little deeper. One afternoon, I went for a long, aimless walk, and wound up in a walled garden, the Parco di Villa Groggia, with a theatre and follies of ancient ruins. It felt like a garden in Classical Athens, like, perhaps, Plato’s Academy—and the perfect place to start on the Phaedrus. As I read, I experienced one of those rare ecstatic communions that I discuss in my book on the emotions. Words written more than two thousand years ago, etched with a stylus into wax tablets, had, by some mysterious magic, succeeded in moving me to my very core. Ecstatic communions, like oracular readings of the kind that set off Socrates, can be life-changing. Within five or six years, I had completed a master’s degree in philosophy, and read and outlined the collected works of both Plato and Aristotle. The outlines were published for the time-poor as Plato’s Shadow (2009) and Aristotle’s Universe (2011). Little did I know then that those two books would serve as groundwork for this one, the research for which would otherwise have been insurmountable! My title is inspired by Edward de Bono (d. 2021), who, like me, began as a physician. In a nutshell, de Bono contrasted critical thinking, which is logical, adversarial, and judgmental, with ‘parallel’ thinking, which is open, cooperative, and, he argued, better suited to real-life problem solving. Critical thinking, with its emphasis on ‘the truth’, is rooted in the Socratic method pioneered by Socrates and codified by Plato and Aristotle. Renaissance humanists turned to this ‘Gang of Three’ to deliver them from Christian dogma, but their apparatus has since outlived this purpose, leaving us trapped in a form of thinking that is abstract, limited, and sterile. The thesis is controversial, but it points to the sorts of issues and stakes involved, and the faintly disparaging title that I took from it, with its connotations of partiality and criminality, serves as a salutary reminder to my reverential self to look for the bad as well as the good. For better or worse, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle engineered the Western mind. Above all, they formed part of a movement that stood at the crossroads of mythological and scientific-rational thought, at the crossroads of mythos and logos. Although the path of logos had already been beaten by the pre-Socratics, and would be paved by the Stoics, it is they, the Gang of Three, that forced the carriage to turn. This book sets out to do three things: trace the journey from mythos to logos; outline the lives and thought of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; and, in the final analysis, consider their legacy, and what can still be gained from them, especially in the universal fields of mental health and human flourishing. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were not philosophers in the narrow sense that we understand today, but in the broader, historical, etymological sense of being lovers of wisdom. They knew logic and dialectic, but they also knew how to live, and how to die—and it is in this, perhaps, that their greater strength lies. I. The Pre-Socratics and Sophists Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle did not come out of nowhere, and their life and work can be understood as a response to the pre-Socratics and sophists, who were themselves a product of deep historical change. Socrates died in part because people continued to confuse him with the atheist Anaxagoras, and as many as ten of Plato’s dialogues, including the Protagoras, Gorgias, and Parmenides, are named after a pre-Socratic or sophist. The first part of this book treats of the major thinkers who led up to Socrates, enabling us to follow the first steps from mythos to logos. II. Socrates Unlike the more academic and aristocratic Plato and Aristotle, who succeeded, by and large, in removing themselves from the world, Socrates was a philosopher of the street and very much immersed in the tumultuous currents of history. Even though he had the good fortune of living right through the Golden Age of Athens, which, more than anyone else, he came to epitomize, he had to submit to several long and brutal military campaigns, suffer the final defeat and subjugation of his people, and defend his character and ideals in a court that sentenced him to death. III. Plato If the best way of reaching Socrates is through his life, the best way of reaching Plato is through his copious writing. Many of Plato’s early ‘Socratic’ dialogues have already been considered in the previous section, freeing us in this section to concentrate on his later, mature works. Some of these are among the greatest works of philosophy ever written, as well as being literary masterpieces. The five that I have chosen to present and discuss—the Meno, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Republic, and Theaetetus—span the full breadth of his middle period. Taken together, they disclose all his major themes and reveal the progression of his style and thought. IV. Aristotle If someone asked me what book I think everyone should read, I would reply without hesitation, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Its subject is quite simply, how best to live. This section outlines all of Aristotle’s major works, but covers the Nicomachean Ethics in more depth than the rest. Aristotle spent almost twenty years in Plato’s folds, before emerging as Plato’s greatest critic: ‘Plato is my friend’ he said, ‘but truth is a greater friend still.’ Comparing and contrasting these two towering figures is a source of endless fascination. There is much more to mental health than the mere absence of mental disorder. Today, I write about all the things that I was never taught. The new Ancient Wisdom series The best, most beautiful, and most powerful ideas of the Classical World. To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child. For what is the time of man, lest it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a superior age? —Cicero The Meaning of Myth: With 12 Greek Myths Retold and Interpreted by a Psychiatrist The Gang of Three: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle Stoic Stories: Stoicism by Its Best Stories Indian Mythology and Philosophy Neel Burton Dr Neel Burton FRSA is a psychiatrist, philosopher, and wine-lover who lives and teaches in Oxford, England. He is a Fellow of Green-Templeton College in the University of Oxford, and the winner of the Society of Authors' Richard Asher Prize, the British Medical Association's Young Authors' Award, and the Medical Journalists' Association Open Book Award. His work regularly features in the likes of Aeon and Psychology Today and has been translated into several languages. His books include: The Meaning of Madness: A Critical Guide to Mental Health and Illness Hide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deception Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions For Better For Worse: Essays on Love, Marriage, and More Hypersanity: Thinking Beyond Thinking The Art of Failure: The Anti Self-Help Guide The Meaning of Myth: With 12 Greek Myths Retold and Interpreted by a Psychiatrist The Gang of Three: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and more...
✔ Author(s): Neel Burton
✔ Title: The Gang of Three: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle (Ancient Wisdom)
✔ Rating : 4 out of 5 base on (33 reviews)
✔ ISBN-10: 1913260429
✔ ISBN-13: 9781913260422
✔ Language: English
✔ Format ebook: PDF, EPUB, Kindle, Audio, HTML and MOBI
✔ Device compatibles: Android, iOS, PC and Amazon Kindle
Readers' opinions about The Gang of Three by Neel Burton
I'm still in awe of the intricate plot and the way everything seamlessly came together. The twists kept me guessing until the very end. It's one of those rare books that leave a lasting impact.
What an intellectual journey! The themes explored in this book challenged my perceptions and sparked introspection. It's refreshing to read a book that provokes such thought.
This is a book I'll cherish and recommend to everyone. It touched my soul and made me reflect on life's profound mysteries.
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