Perception, Conscience and Will in Ancient Philosophy: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Perception, Conscience and Will in Ancient Philosophy

1st Edition

By Richard Sorabji


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Hardback: 9781409446699
pub: 2013-08-28

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This book is about the human mind in ancient philosophy, with a focus on sense perception, a subject that Richard Sorabji has previously treated more in articles than in books. But it finishes with chapters offering a distinctive view on moral conscience and will. Sense perception raises the further questions of the mind-body relation, of self-awareness, of infinite divisibility and the continuum, of the capacities of animals and children and of the relation between perception and reason. On all topics the introduction interconnects the papers and presents fresh material to fill out the picture. For the topic that has proved most popular, the physiological process in sense perception, a bibliography is provided as well as the latest update. The introduction interconnects the papers and fills out the picture by reference to other writings and to further thoughts. On the final topic, the will, it takes account of a different view that appeared only when the book was in preparation. The picture of the main topics shows that each continued to develop into a richer and richer account throughout the 1200 year course of Ancient Greek Philosophy up to 600 CE.


'This is a most welcome and significant addition to the Variorum Collected Studies Series. … we are treated here to a feast of insightful reflections on all of these topics, many of the discussions being retractations of others, to make up a dynamic whole.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review 'Sorabji has blazed a trail here that others will follow.' Heythrop

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I Perception: Body and soul in Aristotle; The mind-body relation in the wake of Plato’s Timaeus; Intentionality and physiological processes: Aristotle's theory of sense perception; From Aristotle to Brentano: the development of the concept of intentionality; Aristotle on sensory processes and intentionality: a reply to Myles Burnyeat; Aristotle on demarcating the five senses; Aristotle, mathematics and colour; Aristotle on colour, light and imperceptibles; Aristotle on the instant of change; Aristotle’s perceptual functions permeated by Platonist reason; Self-awareness. Part II Conscience and Will: Moral conscience: contributions to the idea in Plato and Platonism; The concept of will from Plato to Maximus the Confessor; Indexes.

About the Author

Professor Richard Sorabji, CBE, FBA, is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and Fellow and Professor Emeritus of King's College, London. He was formerly Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London, and Gresham Professor of Rhetoric.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / History & Surveys / Ancient & Classical