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1. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Michael Shaw, S. Montgomery Ewegen Guest Editors' Introduction
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2. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Jessica Elbert Decker I Will Tell A Double Tale: Double Speak in the Ancient Greek Poetic Tradition
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Double speak refers to two parallel devices that are often deployed together: simple repetition, which is frequently used as both emphasis and as an indicator of double speak, and ambiguous syntax such that the phrase uttered may have multiple meanings at once. This paper explores the use of double speak in early Ancient Greek poetic texts, beginning with Homer and tracing its use through the texts of Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Empedocles. Double speak seems to be employed in order to mediate between mortal and divine, creating a double audience: a god or goddess is capable of speaking in two registers at once, so a mortal listening will infer one meaning, while from the perspective of the god or goddess speaking, the statement will have another meaning supplemental to the first. This paper demonstrates the manner in which these Presocratic thinkers employ double speak as a means of disrupting human binary habits of thinking and creating a “quantum awareness” where the subject is able to perceive the relationships and paradoxes that exist between the knower and the seeming objects of knowledge, as well as the habits of thinking and perceiving that nourish the repetition and growth of those patterns.
3. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Ryan Drake The Compulsion of Bodies: Infection and Possession in Gorgias's Helen
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This essay seeks to understand Gorgias’ reflections upon language and perception in the Encomium of Helen through the threefold vocabularies of medicine, enchantment, and oratory that were often taken together in the fifth century. I demonstrate that the two modes of sorcery to which Gorgias refers have to do with language and its effect on opinion, on the one hand, and perception and its effect upon one’s affective bearing, on the other. Both effects, I claim, are grasped through their forceful means of physically impressing and deforming the soul such that its reliance upon memory and habitual forms of dwelling in the world are subject to oblivion. Further, such conceptual and practical unmooring can be understood as forms of disease that rob an individual of her agency, either temporarily or permanently, and therefore reflect the problematic status of language in early democratic Greece.
4. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Pieta Päällysaho Metamorphoses of Shamed Bodies: Sexual Violence in Euripides’s Helen
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In this paper I explore the connections between shame and embodiment in Euripides’s play Helen. The paper focuses on the play’s underlying theme of sexual violence and rape, and on the descriptions of metamorphoses that the mythological female victims often undergo in the face of rape. In my analysis on shame and embodiment I apply two insights from Giorgio Agamben’s analysis of the phenomenon of victim shame in The Remnants of Auschwitz. These are, first, the definition according to which shame is “to be consigned to what cannot be assumed”—that is, to be consigned to one’s self, being and physical body—and second, the claim that in shame one is affected by one’s own (bodily) passivity. Building on these definitions, I explore the intimate connection between shame and embodiment at work in Helen. As a result we can see how the female metamorphoses before or after sexual violence—in Euripides’s play and in Greek mythology in general—can be read in terms of victim shame. Furthermore, I suggest that this shame of the victims of sexual violence originates from the very nature of the crime itself: from being forced to experience the body’s abject passivity.
5. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Sarah Horton The Just as an Absent Ground in Plato's Cratylus
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Through a study of nature and paternal power, this paper sheds light on the neglected theme of the relation between language and justice in Plato’s Cratylus. The dialogue inquires after the correctness of names, and it turns out that no lineage leads us back to a natural ground of names. Every lineage breaks; nature is always disrupted by the monstrous. It does not follow, however, that names are mere conventions without significance: on the contrary, naming is best understood as a prayer to and for the just. The Cratylus reveals the insufficiency of language not to lead us to despair but to call us to the humility and the hope in which we must pray for justice.
6. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Sonja Tanner Trading Places and Parasites: The Metatheatrical Comedy of Plato's Protagoras
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The Protagoras exhibits several traits of metatheatrical comedy. Through the use of role-playing and intertextual reference, I argue that the Protagoras exhibits metatheatrical comedy which Socrates uses to expose the pretension at the heart of philosophical dialogue itself. In this way, Socrates pulls back the curtain of philosophical dialogue to expose the theatricality of such dialogue and, in doing so, offers the audience a unique opportunity to laugh at ourselves.
7. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Jeffrey A. Golub The Last Animal: Indifference in Plato’s Protagoras
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In this essay, I argue that Socrates adopts a philosophical stance of indifference that is particularly unique to the Protagoras. The peculiarity stems from Socrates’s (or perhaps Plato’s) significant interest in dealing with Protagoras as a certain kind of thinker rather than merely a sophist in general. The stance of indifference is shown to be a dramatic reaction to the attitude sophists like Protagoras take toward philosophical problems, specifically, thinkers who understand solutions to philosophical problems as commodities. The stance is shown to anticipate certain Academic skeptical methods, to embolden Socratic ignorance, and shore up defenses against the sophistic insecurity of needing to succeed for the sake of success. This stance is elaborated upon in three specific aspects of Socrates’s dramatic portrayal culminating in a re-reading of the poem of Simonides and the myth of Prometheus and Epimetheus. I resist readings that try to see the Protagoras as a simple takedown of sophistry or as a catalog of platonic doctrine, and instead treat Protagoras as a “philosopher in decline,” a significantly dangerous type of thinker who is savvy enough to repurpose genuine insight for the sake of easy answers to immensely difficult problems.
8. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Santiago Ramos The Ion and Creativity
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Readings of Plato’s Ion are usually guided by one of two broad assumptions about the nature of the text. The Romantic school sees the dialogue as making explicit the idea of Genius, and of the artist as a privileged seer of hidden truths. The Rationalist tendency sees the dialogue as a Socratic attack on poetry, of a piece with other dialogues—most notably, the Republic—that also critique the art. In this paper, I claim that applying a phenomenological method to the dialogue uncovers a way beyond the impasse between these two schools. Specifically, I argue that we must turn our attention away from the question of whether poetry is a human art or divinely inspired, and toward the phenomenon at the heart of the dialogue, which is poetry itself, or better put, the creative act that generates poetic language. Moreover, the Ion itself calls for such a reading.
9. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Mary Cunningham Purification in Plato’s Symposium
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Scholars often take purification (κάθαρσις) to be a concept that persists the same throughout Plato’s dialogues. Generally, they take it to mean the separation of the soul from the body, picking up on Socrates’s account at Phaedo 67c–d. I do not find that this account of purification endures throughout the dialogues. In this paper, I argue that in Symposium Diotima describes purification differently. I argue that her account of purification emphasizes preparedness for encountering the forms, not the eradication of the corporeal. I present this account in three steps. First, I discuss Diotima’s lower and higher mysteries, focusing on the lower mysteries. Next, I examine Diotima’s use of the Eleusinian mysteries as an analogy for her own mysteries. Here, I overview the historical rites at Agrai and the Eleusinian Mysteria. I argue that, mirroring the Agrai rites, Diotima’s lower mysteries are purificatory, and therefore provide an account of purification. Finally, I explain the account of purification Diotima presents in the lower mysteries as the desire to possess the deathless deathlessly. Diotima’s account of purification is importantly distinct from the Phaedo account. In the former, the separation of the soul from the body is in no way important for purification. We must confront the discrepancies between these accounts and recognize that purification is not a doctrine that persists throughout the dialogues.
10. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Sean D. Kirkland Finding Our Way Home: Materiality and the Ontology of the Limit in Plato’s Philebus
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Situating the Philebus within the greater context of Plato’s late-period reconsideration of his own “theory of Ideas,” this essay offers a coordinated interpretation of two of the dialogue’s central passages—the discussion of the God-Given Method and that of the Fourfold Ontology. These passages prove to be interested not in Ideas apart from their material instantiations, as often seemed the case in the middle period dialogues, but in Ideas as they work on and even in materiality as such, producing an intelligible and even beautiful order in the sensible world. This entails, the essay suggests, something like a shift in the direction of Plato’s philosophical gaze and interest toward material being, and thereby a sort of return home to the embodied human condition.
11. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Julie Piering The Kosmopolis over the Kallipolis: The Origin of Cynic Cosmopolitanism and the Challenge It Poses
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When the Cynic philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope, coins the term ‘cosmopolitan,’ he invites an expansive understanding of the ethical and political commitments one should endeavor to challenge and uphold. Whereas the politics of the day privileged one’s status and role in the polis as foundational for rights, entitlements, duties, and allegiances, the cosmopolitan perspective highlights the arbitrary nature of political boundaries and benefits. This permits virtue, nature, and reason to supplant law and custom as the standards for judgment. After grounding the invention of cosmopolitanism in its political and ethical context, this paper explores what is salient in the notion by attending to it in its own right and as a foil for a different kind of ethically driven political structure, here represented by Plato’s kallipolis.
12. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Anne-Marie Schultz Narrative Tyranny in American Political Discourse and Plato's Republic I: The Possibility of Philosophical and Political Freedom
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This paper begins with a brief examination of the contemporary American political landscape.  I describe three recent events that illustrate how attempts to control the narrative about events that transpired threaten to undermine our shared reality.  I then turn to Book I  of Plato’s Republic to explore the potentially tyrannizing effect of  Socrates’s narrative voice.  I focus on his descriptions of Glaucon, Polemarchus and his slave, and Thrasymachus to show how Plato presents Socrates’s narrative activity as a process that controls how the auditor  understands the events that follow.  I then turn to an alternate understanding of  Socratic narrative which extols its philosophically and politically liberatory possibilities.  I use  my own previous work on  Socratic narrative,  Jill Frank’s  Poetic Justice,  and Rebecca’s LeMoine’s Plato’s Cave  as three examples that emphasize the more positive dimensions of  Socratic narrative. Finally, I  end with a brief exploration of Cornel West’s Democracy Matters, and bell hooks’ works on pedagogy to argue for the possibility a Socratically-informed public space for political discourse.
13. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Marina Marren Tragic Rationality in Nietzsche’s Misreading of Plato in The Birth of Tragedy and Beyond
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Shortly before the first publication of The Birth of Tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche identified his philosophy as an “inverted Platonism.” Although, as Martin Heidegger warns, “we may not overlook the fact that the ‘inverted Platonism’ of his early period is enormously different from the position finally attained,” nonetheless, Nietzsche’s suspicion about otherworldly truths and optimistic faith in reason runs as a strong current throughout his works. I argue that Nietzsche’s view of Plato as the initiator of the “true world”—the world that must be overcome on Nietzsche’s valuation—and of Socrates as a proponent of logicality suffers from the same overly rationalistic thinking that Nietzsche himself impugns in Plato. To account for Nietzsche’s interest in setting up Plato as the origin of the system of thought he seeks to overcome, I analyze Nietzsche’s remarks on Plato’s Phaedo in the Birth of Tragedy.
14. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Michael Naas Staying Hydrated: Plato and the Problem of Water
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Water, hydōr: it is the first word of ancient Greek philosophy, the word used by Thales, the first philosopher, to describe the material principle subtending all things. By the time of Plato, philosophers were proposing other kinds of non-material principles to explain diverse phenomena, principles like soul, mind, or ideas. But Plato would continue to be interested in—even fascinated by—water, water in every imaginable form, at once pure and impure, transparent and troubled, drinkable and undrinkable, flowing and still, fresh and salt, shallow and deep. In this paper, I look at Plato’s fascination with and fundamental ambivalence toward water, his understanding of water as both a political question (in his depiction of the island of Atlantis and the city of Athens) and a philosophical problem (in the myth of the cave and the divided line in the Republic and the myth of the earth in the Phaedo). I suggest by the end of the paper, using the work of Jacques Derrida in “Plato’s Pharmacy” to guide my argument, that, for Plato, water was at once the greatest danger for philosophy and its most powerful resource.
15. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Walter Brogan The Intimate Relationship of Life and Law in Aristotle's Politics: The Rise and Decline of the Ancient Greek Polis
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This essay argues that the fundamental premise of Aristotle’s political philosophy is that free citizens are those who rule and are ruled in turn. The virtuous community sustains a mean between these two dimensions of political life, and the decadent regime errs by excess or deficiency from this ideal. Aristotle sees the production and exercise of law as essential to preserve the continuity of the arrangements between citizens. In the production of law, the process of ruling together is best exemplified, and, at the same time, the citizens give themselves over to be ruled by the principles that have been laid down. Since living well is carried out in the realm of the political, we have to learn how to express our life in relationship to the whole that is shared with others. The life of law is achieved when the citizens become lawful.