I have been dipping into this book, which comprises 12 biographical studies of historical philosophers in emulation of Diogenes Laertius. It's ambitious and fun to read, but the three chapters I have read are curiously unsatisfying.
Socrates is presented as a model for us all: Miller dwells on the physical courage, integrity, gadfly quality, the inner voice, and the posthumous influence. It's an engaging picture; yet, we don't really get a sense of why this enigmatic figure was so influential, or how philosophy was shaped in his image.
The Aristotle chapter is the least satisfying of the three I have read. Little is known about Aristotle's life and personality, and so biographers have to make hay of why he was personally controversial. Miller muses about Aristotle's wealth, his allegedly luxurious lifestyle, and his relationships with the most powerful men of his time and place. But he has no real sense of why Aristotle is as important as he is: the sense in which he founded academic philosophy as it is conducted today. (He gives too much credit for that to Plato.)
The Nietzsche chapter is intriguing. It's evocative about the life, and about its entwinement with various themes and motifs in the thought. The deterioration in the circumstances of his life is skillfully and sensitively portrayed. But Miller simply doesn't have the will to stick with certain themes. He is suggestive about Nietzsche's Darwinism, but doesn't say enough. Was this merely a passing opinion, or did it permeate his thought? Was the "anti-Darwin" of some later works a protest against what Nietzsche himself took to be Darwin's failure to stick with his own programme? Or was it a critique? I would have liked to know more.
Have others read this book? Opinions? Critiques?