Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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University of California Press, 2007 - History - 269 pages
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"The world is configured in ways that seem systematically hospitable to life forms, especially the human race. Is this the outcome of divine planning or simply of the laws of physics? Ancient Greeks and Romans famously disagreed on whether the cosmos was the product of design or accident. In Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity, David Sedley examines this question and illuminates new historical perspectives on the pantheon of thinkers who laid the foundations of Western philosophy and science. Versions of what we call the "creationist" option were widely favored by the major thinkers of classical antiquity, including Plato, whose ideas on the subject prepared the ground for Aristotle's celebrated teleology. But Aristotle himself excluded any role for divine intervention, in this respect aligning himself with the anti-creationist lobby, whose most militant members - the atomists - sought to show how a world just like ours would form inevitably by sheer accident, given only the infinity of space and matter. This study explores seven major thinkers and philosophical movements enmeshed in the debate: Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Socrates, Plato, the atomists, Aristotle, and the Stoics. An epilogue considers their debate from the viewpoint of Galen, the great second-century A.D. doctor, who was also a leading voice of creationism."--BOOK JACKET.
 

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Contents

I ANAXAGORAS
1
II EMPEDOCLES
31
III SOCRATES
75
IV PLATO
93
V THE ATOMISTS
133
VI ARISTOTLE
167
VII THE STOICS
205
A GALENIC PERSPECTIVE
239
Bibliography
245
Index Locorum
257
General Index
267
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About the author (2007)

David Sedley is Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of many books, including Plato’s Cratylus (2003) and The Midwife of Platonism: Text and Subtext in Plato’s Theaetetus (2004), and is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Philosophy.

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