I have been working in fits and bursts on a book on Hellenistic philosophy over the past couple of years, repeatedly interrupted by work tasks or other research commitments (see previous post here). I am now focusing all my attention on it until it is finished. I have just passed the 50,000 words mark and am aiming for something in the region of 80,000-90,000 words, plus introduction, bibliography, and so on. I am hoping to get the remaining 30,000 words or so written over the next couple of months and to have the book (or at least a complete first draft) finished by the summer. Writing 1,000 words a day, giving 5,000 words a week, would do it in 6 weeks, barring other distractions, and that's a fairly modest schedule.
I have found myself reading a lot of Cicero. Not only is he sometimes the most important source on a particular topic, but where there are other sources he is usually the earliest and the most enjoyable to read. Compared to, say, the doxographical summaries of Diogenes Laertius or Stobaeus, Cicero’s works are well-crafted dialogues written by someone who was philosophically literate and in personal contact with key members of all the philosophical schools of his day. This is especially the case for Stoicism and the sceptical Academy. He is also an important figure in his own right. For Epicureanism we have Lucretius of course, as well as Epicurus’s letters. Together, Cicero and Lucretius have become my regular points of reference.
The table of contents looks like this:
1. What, When, Where, and Who
4. The Self
5. The Good
6. Free Will
9. What was Hellenistic Philosophy?
I have also written and may include a short epilogue entitled ‘Looking East’ in which I comment briefly on connections with Indian philosophy of the period.