The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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I am concerned in this paper with the philological basis for Greek ontology, that is to say, with the raw material which was provided for philosophical analysis by the ordinary use and meaning of the verb einai, 'to be'. My question is: how were the Greek philosophers guided, or influenced, in their formulation of doctrines of Being, by the pre-philosophical use of this verb which serves to express the concept of Being in Greek?


Charles H. Kahn presented “The Greek Verb ‘To Be’ and the Problem of Being” to the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy at its meeting with the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in New York in 1965. It was published as “The Greek Verb ‘To Be’ and the Concept of Being” in Foundations of Language 2.3 (1966) 245-265 and reprinted in his Essays on Being, Oxford University Press 2009. It was also incorporated into his book, The Verb ‘Be’ in Ancient Greek, Reidel 1973, reprinted and updated in Hackett 2003.

Charles Kahn is Emeritus Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His information page is: