51- The Next Generation: the Followers of Plato and Aristotle

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Peter wraps up Plato and Aristotle by discussing their followers: Speusippus and Xenocrates (the “Old Academy”), and the polymath Theophrastus.



Further Reading

• H. Baltussen, Theophrastus against the Presocratics and Plato (Leiden: 2000).

• J. Dillon, The Heirs of Plato: a Study of the Old Academy (Oxford: 2003).

• W.W. Fortenbaugh, P.M. Huby, R.W. Sharples and D. Gutas, Theophrastus of Ephesus: Sources for his Life, Writings, Thought and Influence (Leiden: 1992).

• L. Tarán, Speusippus of Athens (Leiden: 1981).

• H. Tarrant, “Speusippus’ Ontological Classification,” Phronesis 19 (1974), 130-45.

• Theophrastus, On First Principles, ed. and trans. D. Gutas (Leiden: 2010).


Robert on 5 October 2016

Pain is both bad and good

By using the word clearly Eudoxus precludes any discussion on the value of pain. As I learned from various references to Buster Keaton, the argument (that pleasure is good because it is the opposite of pain which is clearly bad) is only as strong as the premise. Is pain clearly bad? No, while pain feels bad, it is also good and serves a function, because it alerts the body to danger.

In reply to by Robert

Peter Adamson on 5 October 2016


First of all congrats on being the first to comment on this episode - it's been up for about 5 years! Second, I tend to agree with you but on the other hand consider the similar point put forth by the Hellenstic thinkers of the Epicurean and Stoic schools, the so-called "cradle argument." They contend that whatever we instinctively are drawn to (from infanacy) must be "natural" to us and hence "oikeion" (appropriate). Isn't it rather persuasive to say that whatever philosophers may say, in real life people just do hate pain and love pleasure, and it is silly to factor this out of our ethical theories? Especially if you add the point about "naturalness" as the Hellenistic thinkers do, if you assume that what is "natural" is "good" (probably an unwarranted inference but one many people still are willing to make!).

Griffin Werner on 8 March 2018

Astronomy to Philosophy

You mention that, in the dialogues, Plato says that the study of Astronomy is a stepping stone toward the study of Philosophy. This may be a long shot, but do you know which dialogue that comes from? 

In reply to by Griffin Werner

Peter Adamson on 9 March 2018

Astronomy in Plato

Sure: it is in the Timaeus in the bit where he is talking about eyesight.

Raissa on 19 May 2021

can't play the episode


I've been listening to the podcast for the past few months here from Brazil and it seems that some of the episodes are no longer available. Or maybe I'm not able to listen to them for some reason. I was able to listen to the previous one but not this one, for example. Do you know why that is happening?

Thank you very much! I really enjoy the podcast.


In reply to by Raissa

Peter Adamson on 19 May 2021

Problem with episode

I just tried and it works for me - sometimes there seems to be a glitch with the podcast platform but it fixes itself. Is it working for you now?

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