Catalogue


Plato's democratic entanglements : Athenian politics and the practice of philosophy /
S. Sara Monoson.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2000.
description
xi, 252 p.
ISBN
0691043663 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
Subjects
personal subject
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2000.
isbn
0691043663 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
3715671
 
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Sara Monoson has written a wonderfully readable original book on themes and texts that feel thoroughly familiar until she engages them. With her help, some of the most analyzed passages in all of Greek literature become interesting again. Though the book is lucidly written, it has a complex structure which it employs to make its equally complex argument about the relationship between the Athenian self-understanding of their democracy and Plato's political philosophizing. After an 'Introduction,' Part I considers four substantive issues: power, eros, frank speech, and theatricality as political practices which help constitute an Athenian democratic imaginary. Each chapter is valuable in itself, both in the particular argument it makes and the provocative textual interpretations present at every turn. But it is their cumulative effect as a cultural context for Plato's project that concerns Monoson most of all. Part II reprises each theme but now in terms of the 'imaginary' of Platonic political philosophy. While acknowledging those places where Plato not only departed from Athenian democratic practices but etched an indelible critique of them, she shows how often Plato remained engaged by and even sympathetic to Athenian civic ideals, and how frequently his critique was based on the failure of the Athenians to live up to them. Her aim is to dislodge the orthodox view of Plato as anti-democratic, which all too often closes down the generative possibilities for introducing Plato as an interlocutor in contemporary political debates. And she accomplishes all this with deftness, insight, and an admirable command of the primary texts and the scholarly literature on them."--J. Peter Euben, University of California, Santa Cruz
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2000-11-01:
Incorporating an immense body of scholarship on Greek philosophy and cultural history, Monoson persuasively demonstrates that the conventional scholarly view of Plato as "anti-democrat" is simplistic--perhaps a good example of the either/or fallacy. Plato is obviously not a partisan of the democratic regime, but neither is he blind to certain of democracy's merits. After all, it is in the democratic regime that philosophy exists. As Allan Bloom pointed out in his commentary on The Republic, "Democracy is merely indifferent to philosophy, while the other regimes are positively hostile to it." Monoson's account of the dialogue form and her analysis of the Seventh Letter is particularly useful, and the reader is thus lead nicely into her discussion of "frank speech" (parrhesia) and her analysis of Plato's philosophy in relation to the Athenian democratic political culture. She succeeds nicely in bringing to light a number of the continuities between Plato's political philosophy and the Athenian democratic tradition. Missing, however, is any analysis of the fundamental tension between philosophical and political life. The incorporation of such an account into her analysis of "frank speech" would make that analysis more precise. Nonetheless, this book, should be read by any serious student of Platonic political philosophy. Upper-division undergraduates and above. P. N. Malcolmson; St. Thomas University
Reviews
Review Quotes
Sara Monoson is that rare exception to the rule that political theorists cannot sustain the interest of political philosophers: her training in ancient history and classical Greek give her treatment of Plato's complicated relationship to democracy a depth and richness that will repay the efforts of the most exacting of critics. -- Debra Nails, Journal of the History of Philosophy
Winner of the 2001 American Political Science Association's Best First Book Award, Foundations of Political Theory Section
One of the many strengths of S. Sara Monoson's book about Plato's views on democracy . . . is the frank recognition of the open-endedness of Platonic interpretation. Her aim is not to argue for a particular cut-and-dried version of Plato's thoughts about democracy but rather to add new dimensions to what is conceded to be a rich cluster of subtle and ambivalent attitudes . . . All those working on either Plato or Athenian democracy will find much of interest. -- Richard Mulgan, Ethics
Sara Monoson is that rare exception to the rule that political theorists cannot sustain the interest of political philosophers: her training in ancient history and classical Greek give her treatment of Plato's complicated relationship to democracy a depth and richness that will repay the efforts of the most exacting of critics.
"Sara Monoson is that rare exception to the rule that political theorists cannot sustain the interest of political philosophers: her training in ancient history and classical Greek give her treatment of Plato's complicated relationship to democracy a depth and richness that will repay the efforts of the most exacting of critics."-- Debra Nails, Journal of the History of Philosophy
One of the many strengths of S. Sara Monoson's book about Plato's views on democracy . . . is the frank recognition of the open-endedness of Platonic interpretation. Her aim is not to argue for a particular cut-and-dried version of Plato's thoughts about democracy but rather to add new dimensions to what is conceded to be a rich cluster of subtle and ambivalent attitudes . . . All those working on either Plato or Athenian democracy will find much of interest.
"One of the many strengths of S. Sara Monoson's book about Plato's views on democracy . . . is the frank recognition of the open-endedness of Platonic interpretation. Her aim is not to argue for a particular cut-and-dried version of Plato's thoughts about democracy but rather to add new dimensions to what is conceded to be a rich cluster of subtle and ambivalent attitudes . . . All those working on either Plato or Athenian democracy will find much of interest."-- Richard Mulgan, Ethics
No one interested in Plato and Athenian democracy or in Plato generally can afford to miss this serious study of Plato's political philosophy in relation to Athenian democracy. -- F. Rosen, Political Studies
Clearly written, wide-ranging, but tightly organized. [Monoson] wears her erudition lightly, commanding a clear and cogent prose that is a pleasure to read. . . . Her richly textured portrait of Athenian political culture requires that we reexamine the contrasts conventionally associated with 'ancient' versus 'modern democracy.' Her work also invites us to think harder about the practices through which ideals of freedom and equality may be realized. -- Morris B. Kaplan, Political Theory
No one interested in Plato and Athenian democracy or in Plato generally can afford to miss this serious study of Plato's political philosophy in relation to Athenian democracy.
"No one interested in Plato and Athenian democracy or in Plato generally can afford to miss this serious study of Plato's political philosophy in relation to Athenian democracy."-- F. Rosen, Political Studies
"Clearly written, wide-ranging, but tightly organized. [Monoson] wears her erudition lightly, commanding a clear and cogent prose that is a pleasure to read. . . . Her richly textured portrait of Athenian political culture requires that we reexamine the contrasts conventionally associated with 'ancient' versus 'modern democracy.' Her work also invites us to think harder about the practices through which ideals of freedom and equality may be realized."-- Morris B. Kaplan, Political Theory
Clearly written, wide-ranging, but tightly organized. [Monoson] wears her erudition lightly, commanding a clear and cogent prose that is a pleasure to read. . . . Her richly textured portrait of Athenian political culture requires that we reexamine the contrasts conventionally associated with 'ancient' versus 'modern democracy.' Her work also invites us to think harder about the practices through which ideals of freedom and equality may be realized.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 2000
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Summaries
Main Description
In this book, Sara Monoson challenges the longstanding and widely held view that Plato is a virulent opponent of all things democratic. She does not, however, offer in its place the equally mistaken idea that he is somehow a partisan of democracy. Instead, she argues that we should attend more closely to Plato's suggestion that democracy is horrifying and exciting, and she seeks to explain why he found it morally and politically intriguing. Monoson focuses on Plato's engagement with democracy as he knew it: a cluster of cultural practices that reach into private and public life, as well as a set of governing institutions. She proposes that while Plato charts tensions between the claims of democratic legitimacy and philosophical truth, he also exhibits a striking attraction to four practices central to Athenian democratic politics: intense antityrantism, frank speaking, public funeral oratory, and theater-going. By juxtaposing detailed examination of these aspects of Athenian democracy with analysis of the figurative language, dramatic structure, and arguments of the dialogues, she shows that Plato systematically links democratic ideals and activities to philosophic labor. Monoson finds that Plato's political thought exposes intimate connections between Athenian democratic politics and the practice of philosophy. Situating Plato's political thought in the context of the Athenian democratic imaginary, Monoson develops a new, textured way of thinking of the relationship between Plato's thought and the politics of his city.
Main Description
In this book, Sara Monoson challenges the longstanding and widely held view that Plato is a virulent opponent of all things democratic. She does not, however, offer in its place the equally mistaken idea that he is somehow a partisan of democracy. Instead, she argues that we should attend more closely to Plato's suggestion that democracy is horrifyingandexciting, and she seeks to explain why he found it morally and politically intriguing. Monoson focuses on Plato's engagement with democracy as he knew it: a cluster of cultural practices that reach into private and public life, as well as a set of governing institutions. She proposes that while Plato charts tensions between the claims of democratic legitimacy and philosophical truth, he also exhibits a striking attraction to four practices central to Athenian democratic politics: intense antityrantism, frank speaking, public funeral oratory, and theater-going. By juxtaposing detailed examination of these aspects of Athenian democracy with analysis of the figurative language, dramatic structure, and arguments of the dialogues, she shows that Plato systematically links democratic ideals and activities to philosophic labor. Monoson finds that Plato's political thought exposes intimate connections between Athenian democratic politics and the practice of philosophy. Situating Plato's political thought in the context of the Athenian democratic imaginary, Monoson develops a new, textured way of thinking of the relationship between Plato's thought and the politics of his city.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction Siting Platop. 3
Aspects of the Athenian Civic Self-Imagep. 19
The Allure of Harmodius and Aristogeiton: Public/Private Relations in the Athenian Democratic Imaginaryp. 21
Telling the Talep. 22
Embracing the Simplified Talep. 28
Thinking with the Talep. 29
Thucydides' Critiquep. 42
Aristotle's Critiquep. 49
Citizen as Parrhesiastes (Frank Speaker)p. 51
Truth-Telling and Risk-Takingp. 52
Frank Speaking and Freedomp. 54
Frank Speaking and the Integrity of Assembly Debatep. 56
Citizen as Erastes (Lover): Erotic Imagery and the Idea of Reciprocity in the Periclean Funeral Orationp. 64
Citizen as Erastesp. 67
Citizenship as Reciprocity between Lover and Belovedp. 74
Citizen as Theates (Theater-Goer): Performing Unity, Reciprocity, and Strong-Mindedness in the City Dionysiap. 88
The Eventp. 90
Representing the Unity of the Democratic Polisp. 92
Enacting Democratic Normsp. 98
Plato's Democratic Entanglementsp. 111
Unsettling the Orthodoxyp. 113
Philosopber as Tyrant-Slayerp. 113
The Matter of Biasp. 115
Dismay over the Fate of Socratesp. 118
Disdain for the Common Manp. 122
The 'Doctrine" of the Republicp. 125
The Work of the Academyp. 137
Personal Involvement in Syracusan Politicsp. 145
Philosopher as Parrhesiastes (Frank Speaker)p. 154
The Laches: Recognizing Parrhesiap. 155
The Gorgias: Embracing Parrhesia.p. 161
The Republic: Practicing Parrhesiap. 165
The Laws: Practicing Parrhesiap. 179
Remembering Pericles: The Political and Theoretical Import of Plato's Menexcnusp. 181
Plato's Opposition to the Veneration of Periclesp. 182
Plato's Rcjection of Pericles Model of Democratic Citizenshipp. 189
Plato's Theoretical Interest in Funeral Oratoryp. 202
Theory and Theatricalityp. 206
A Puzzlep. 206
Four Patternsp. 207
Preliminary Thoughts on Theory and Theater-goingp. 208
Philosopber as Theates in the Republicp. 212
Theorist as Theoros in the Lawsp. 226
Why Is Socrates Absent from the Laws?p. 232
Concluding Remarksp. 237
Citation Indexp. 239
General Indexp. 245
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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