Pierre Hadot, educator, historian, philosopher, writer, author.
Pierre Hadot, educator, historian, philosopher, writer, author.
Pierre Hadot, educator, historian, philosopher, writer, author.
Les Patios Saint-Jacques, 4-14 rue Ferrus, FR-75014 Paris, France
Pierre Hadot graduated from Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in 1962.
21 Rue de l’École de Médecine 75006 Paris, France
Pierre Hadot earned a Doctor of Philosophy from Sorbonne University.
Pierre Hadot was a member of the Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur.
(Since its original publication in France in 1963, Pierre ...)
Since its original publication in France in 1963, Pierre Hadot's lively philosophical portrait of Plotinus remains the preeminent introduction to the man and his thought. Michael Chase's lucid translations - complete with a useful chronology and analytical bibliography- at last makes this book available to the English-speaking world. Hadot carefully examines Plotinus's views on the self, existence, love, virtue, gentleness, and solitude.
(This book presents a history of spiritual exercises from ...)
This book presents a history of spiritual exercises from Socrates to early Christianity, an account of their decline in modern philosophy, and a discussion of the different conceptions of philosophy that have accompanied the trajectory and fate of the theory and practice of spiritual exercises. Hadot's book demonstrates the extent to which philosophy has been, and still is, above all else a way of seeing and of being in the world.
(A magisterial mappa mundi of the terrain that Pierre Hado...)
A magisterial mappa mundi of the terrain that Pierre Hadot has so productively worked for decades, this ambitious work revises our view of ancient philosophy - and in doing so, proposes that we change the way we see philosophy itself. Hadot takes ancient philosophy out of its customary realm of names, dates, and arid abstractions and plants it squarely in the thick of life. Through a meticulous historical reading, he shows how the various schools, trends, and ideas of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy all tended toward one goal: to provide a means for achieving happiness in this life, by transforming the individual’s mode of perceiving and being in the world.
(The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are treasured today - ...)
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are treasured today - as they have been over the centuries - as an inexhaustible source of wisdom. And as one of the three most important expressions of Stoicism, this is an essential text for everyone interested in ancient religion and philosophy. Yet the clarity and ease of the work's style are deceptive. Pierre Hadot, an eminent historian of ancient thought, uncovers new levels of meaning and expands our understanding of its underlying philosophy.
(Nearly twenty-five hundred years ago the Greek thinker He...)
Nearly twenty-five hundred years ago the Greek thinker Heraclitus supposedly uttered the cryptic words "Phusis kruptesthai philei." How the aphorism, usually translated as "Nature loves to hide," has haunted Western culture ever since is the subject of this engaging study by Pierre Hadot. Taking the allegorical figure of the veiled goddess Isis as a guide, and drawing on the work of both the ancients and later thinkers such as Goethe, Rilke, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger, Hadot traces successive interpretations of Heraclitus' words.
Between 1953 and 1962, Pierre Hadot studied the Latin patristics and was trained in philology. At this time, Hadot was also greatly interested in mysticism. Hadot graduated from Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in 1962. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy from Sorbonne University in 1968. Pierre Hadot received an honorary doctorate from the University of Neuchâtel in 1985.
In 1949-1964, 1970-1974, Pierre Hadot was a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris. In 1972, he became its decision committee in philosophy member. In 1964-1984, he was a professor at École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), Paris, France. In 1972-1984, Hadot worked as a research center director at Religions du Livre. In 1982-1991, he was a professor at Collège de France, Paris, France, and in 1983-1991 - a chairman of the department of history of Hellenistic and Roman thought. In 1991, he became its professor emeritus. He continued to translate, write, give interviews, and publish until shortly before his death in April 2010.
As a Researcher at the CNRS, Hadot was free to devote himself to scholarship. He began with Latin Patristics, editing Ambrose of Milan and Marius Victorinus. This was the period, from the late 1950s to the 1960s, when, under the guidance of such experts as the Jesuit Paul Henry, he learned the strict discipline of philology, or the critical study and editing of ancient manuscripts, an approach that was to continue to exert a formative influence on his thought for the rest of his life. Also during this period, Hadot's deep interest in mysticism led him to study Plotinus, and, surprisingly enough, Wittgenstein, whose comments on "das Mystische" led Hadot to study the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations and publish articles on them, thus becoming one of the first people in France to draw attention to Wittgenstein. Hadot wrote Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision in a month-long burst of inspiration in 1963, a lucid, sincere work that is still one of the best introductions to Plotinus.
Hadot would continue to translate and comment upon Plotinus throughout the rest of his life, founding, in particular, the series Les Ecrits de Plotin, a series, still in progress, that provides translations with extensive introductions and commentaries to all the treatises of Plotinus' Enneads, in chronological order. On a personal level, Hadot gradually became detached from Plotinus' thought, feeling that Plotinian mysticism was too otherworldly and contemptuous of the body to be adequate for today's needs.
Elected Director of Studies at the 5th Section of the EPHE in 1964, Hadot married his second wife. This marked another turning point in his intellectual development, for it was at least in part thanks to his wife's interest in spiritual guidance in Antiquity that the focus of Hadot's interests would gradually shift, over the following decade or so, from the complex and technical metaphysics of Porphyry and Marius Victorinus to a concern for the practical, ethical side of philosophy, and more precisely the development of his key concept of philosophy as a way of life.
At Hadot's request, the title of his Chair at the EPHE was soon changed from Latin Patristics to Theologies and Mysticisms of Hellenistic Greece and the End of Antiquity. In 1968, he published his thesis for the State Doctorate, the massive Porphyre et Victorinus, in which he attributed a previously anonymous commentary on Plato's Parmenides to Porphyry, the Neoplatonist student of Plotinus. This monument of erudition arguably remains, even today, the most complete exposition of Neoplatonist metaphysics.
It was around this time that Pierre Hadot began to study and lecture on Marcus Aurelius - studies that would culminate in his edition of the Meditations left unfinished at his death, and especially in his book The Inner Citadel.
Hadot first published the results of this new research on spiritual exercises in an article that appeared in the Annuaire de la Ve section in 1977: Exercices spirituels. This article formed the kernel of his book Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique, and was no doubt the work of Hadot's that most impressed Michel Foucault, to the extent that he invited Hadot to propose his candidacy for a Chair at the Collège de France, the most prestigious academic position in France. Hadot did so and was elected to this position. Hadot's view on philosophy as a way of life consisting of the practice of spiritual exercises was given a more complete narrative form in his Qu'est-ce que la philosophie antique?
Another aspect of his thought was more controversial: if philosophy was, throughout Antiquity, conceived as a way of life, in which it was not only those who published learned tomes that were considered philosophers, but also, and in some cases especially - one thinks of Socrates, who wrote nothing - those who lived philosophically, then how and why did this situation cease? Hadot's answer was twofold: on the one hand, Christianity, which had begun by adopting and integrating pagan spiritual exercises, ended up by relegating philosophy to the status of the mere handmaid of theology. On the other, at around the same historical period of the Middle Ages, and not coincidentally, the phenomenon of the European University arose. Destined from the outset to be a kind of factory in which professional philosophers trained students to become professional philosophers in their turn, these new institutions led to a progressive confusion of two aspects that were, according to Hadot, carefully distinguished in Antiquity: doing philosophy and producing discourse about philosophy. Many modern thinkers, Hadot believed, have successfully resisted this confusion, but they were mostly such extra-University thinkers as Descartes, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer.
Pierre Hadot taught at the Collège until his retirement in 1992. In addition to Plotinus and Marcus, his teaching was increasingly devoted to the philosophy of nature, an interest he had picked up from Bergson, and which he had first outlined in a lecture at the Jungian-inspired Eranos meetings at Ascona, Switzerland, in 1967. Combined with his long-term love of Goethe, this research on the history of mankind's relation to nature would finally culminate in Le Voile d'Isis, a study of the origin and interpretations of Heraclitus' saying "Nature loves to hide," published a mere 6 years before his death. Here and in the preliminary studies leading up this work, Hadot distinguishes two main currents in the history of man's attitude to nature: the "Promethean" approach, in which man tries to force nature to reveal her secrets in order better to exploit her, and the "Orphic" attitude, a philosophical or aesthetic approach in which one listens attentively to nature, recognizing the potential dangers of revealing all her Secrets.
(This book presents a history of spiritual exercises from ...)1981
(A magisterial mappa mundi of the terrain that Pierre Hado...)1995
(Since its original publication in France in 1963, Pierre ...)1963
(The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are treasured today - ...)1998
(Nearly twenty-five hundred years ago the Greek thinker He...)2014
Educated as a Catholic, Pierre Hadot began training for the priesthood at age of 22. However, following Pope Pius XII's encyclical, Humani Generis, of 1950, Hadot left the priesthood.
Under the influence of his wife Ilsetraut, who had written an important work on spiritual guidance in Seneca, Pierre Hadot began to accord more importance to the idea of spiritual exercises, that is, philosophical practices intended to transform the practitioner's way of looking at the world, and consequently his or her way of being. Following Paul Rabbow, Hadot held that the famous Exercitia Spiritualia of Ignatius of Loyola, far from being exclusively Christian, were the direct heirs of pagan Greco-Roman practices. These exercises, involving not just the intellect or reason, but all a human being's faculties, including emotion and imagination, had the same goal as all ancient philosophy: reducing human suffering and increasing happiness, by teaching people to detach themselves from their particular, egocentric, individualistic viewpoint and become aware of their belonging, as integral component parts, to the Whole constituted by the entire cosmos.
Hadot finally came to believe that these spiritual attitudes - "spiritual" precisely because they are not merely intellectual but involve the entire human organism, but one might with equal justification call them "existential" attitudes - and the practices or exercises that nourished, fortified and developed them, were the key to understanding all of ancient philosophy. In a sense, the grandiose physical, metaphysical, and epistemological structures that separated the major philosophical schools of Antiquity - Platonism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Epicureanism - were mere superstructures, intended to justify the basic philosophical attitude. Hadot deduced this, among other considerations, from the fact that many of the spiritual exercises of the various schools were highly similar, despite all their ideological differences: thus, both Stoics and Epicureans recommended the exercise of living in the present.
For the first time, Pierre Hadot married in 1953. He married Ilsetraut Ludolff, a historian of philosophy, on August 3, 1966. He had a daughter Karla.