M.F. Burnyeat is Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at All Souls College, Oxford. He is the author of The Theaetetus of Plato and A Map of Metaphysics Zeta. (November 2001)

Philosophy for Winners

In the winter of 46 BC, Cato of Utica knew that the Roman Republic was finished. Julius Caesar had won the civil war and was on his way to capture him. Cato, a prominent Stoic, resolved on suicide—in Stoic parlance, a “reasonable exit.” Others would live on as best they …

Cracking the Socrates Case

When one legend writes about another, the result is bound to be explosive. One could read I.F. Stone’s book as the most intemperate attack on Socrates since he was tried and found guilty in 399 BC. Some already have read the book that way, calling Stone a “cultural philistine.”[^1] A …

Sphinx Without a Secret

“Wishing neither to be destroyed nor to bring destruction among the multitude, the considerate few have imperturbably conveyed to their readers an eloquence of articulate silences and pregnant indications.”[^1] This extraordinary sentence was written not by Leo Strauss but to introduce a book honoring him. It perfectly expresses the substance, …

Message from Heraclitus

We are, let us imagine, at Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor. The date is somewhere around 500 BC, and we have gathered to hear the book or logos (discourse) of Heraclitus, son of Bloson. At this period books—such few of them as exist—are written to be heard rather …

The Virtues of Plato

The great difficulty in writing about Plato is to combine the depth and strength of the Platonic vision with the Socratic subtlety of the arguments by which it is conveyed. Plato’s dialogues are a miraculous blend of philosophical imagination and logic. The interpreter must somehow respond to both, for if …