Athens in Paris: Ancient Greece and the Political in Post-War French Thought (Classical Presences)

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Related publisher series Classical Presences. Seamus Heaney. Derek Walcott. Ola Rotimi. Femi Osofisan. Related places Greece. England, UK. Naples, Campania, Italy. South Africa. Harare, Zimbabwe.

Caribbean Region. African colonies. Related events Renaissance. Related book awards Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Runciman Award. How do series work? Series: Classical Presences Series by cover 1—8 of 75 next show all. Ancient slavery and abolition : from Hobbes to Hollywood by Edith Hall. There follows a reading of Irigaray's critique of Lacan and Zizek's attempted recuperation of Lacan's reading of Antigone.

Athens vs Sparta (Peloponnesian War explained in 6 minutes)

What we see in the case of Antigone is how these thinkers embedded Antigone within their own theories of sexual difference. Even for Derrida there is no way to think Antigone entirely separate from Hegel although he would seem to be more successful than Lacan or Zizek ; again we see in concrete detail the inextricable links between French post-war thinkers and nineteenth-century German philhellenism.

Athens in Paris: Ancient Greece and the Political in Post-War French Thought - Oxford Scholarship

Hegel creates an opposition between Greek and Jew, centered especially on the questions of citizenship and the political subject; subsequent readings of Oedipus and Antigone remain linked to the anti-Semitism embedded in this philhellenism. Chapter Three, "Socrates and the Analytic City," analyzes readings of Socrates from Hegel and Nietzsche to Lacan and Derrida; in common with Oedipus and Antigone, the figure of Socrates marks the intersection between individual subject and the city, and so is an ideal figure around which to center a study of ethics in the context of the political.

For Hegel, Socrates marks the rupture of a collective civic body, with political ethics progressing towards personal morality; for Nietzsche this move is not progressive but regressive, destroying a notion of "the tragic" and of a political community.

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For each, the question of Socrates is related to his understanding of the Jewish question, and the works of Hegel and Nietzsche delineate the terms of twentieth-century French explorations of Socrates: "Between philosopher and citizen, saviour and demon, Greek and Jew, Socrates is the embodiment of the paradoxes of reason and subjectivity as they were explored in nineteenth-century philosophy. But Hegel's and Nietzsche's readings of Socrates also map the boundaries of the debates in post-war France and its dialogue with the Greeks" Leonard shows how Lacan's work on the ethics of psychoanalysis mirrors Nietzsche's reading of Socrates.

Lacan turns from readings of Antigone and towards readings of Socrates in tandem with an increased focus in his work on language and philosophy and the construction of a "different genealogy for psychoanalysis" Lacan's reading of Socrates draws heavily on the Platonic Symposium , especially in his eighth seminar, Le Transfert.

While Lacan sees the Symposium as a precursor to the talking cure of analysis especially Apollodorus, who relates the dialogue , Foucault turns to the Symposium as "an explicitly pre -analytic society" in order "to move beyond the hegemony of the psychoanalytic discourse of desire" Leonard points out the partiality of each reading and teases out the political dimension of the posited relationships between Socrates and psychoanalysis, especially the question of historicism and the "problem of agency and political identity" Irigaray returns to this problem by re-visiting Lacan's understanding of Diotima in the Symposium and offering a different reading of her role in the dialogue; Derrida goes further and, through his reading of the pharmakon , calls into question the received tradition of Platonism, indeed the Hellenocentrism which is the "foundation of Hegelian philosophy" Clearly Leonard's work is indebted to Derrida, offering as it does a deconstruction of readings of classical texts.

This does not prevent Leonard from reading Derrida critically: Derrida's essay underplays the complex relationship Plato had to Athenian democracy , and so, "For all Derrida's professions to the contrary, reading the Greeks politically, reading the Greeks democratically, may have got us no further than Heidegger" Here we see the French post-war thinkers struggling to leave behind polarities and oppositions marked out by Hegel and Nietzsche The book ends with an "Epilogue: Reception and the Political" which turns to Sartre's theatre of the political based on Classical myths.

Rather than repeat an allegorical reading of Les Mouches focusing on collaboration under German occupation, Leonard traces the connections between "the political preoccupations of the modern world and the metaphysical obsessions of antiquity" Sartre becomes the locus to summarize the preceding discussions of agency and subjectivity, even as Sartre represents an antithetical engagement of politics and ethics, antiquity and humanism, for many of the structuralist and post-structuralist thinkers examined in this study French thinkers return to the Greeks but do so through the mediation of the Germans; Leonard traces these connections in an act of self-reflexive analysis which traces the intellectual genealogy of Classics as a discipline today.

Each of this book's three chapters is lengthy and dense; on average each has footnotes, with a wealth of references.

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The bibliography is full and complete, and the index is well-designed to provide immediate access to the ideas, thinkers, and texts discussed in the monograph. The breadth of learning in this book is a temptation to hours of study and the bibliography includes quantities of works I had not read previously. This review is late in appearing in part because of the time spent reading heretofore unknown nuggets listed in Leonard's bibliography; I can attest to the subtlety and accuracy of Leonard's readings, and I learned much from reading further in this scholarship.

I believe this claim would prove true for any who engage deeply with this book. I offer only two, albeit minor, criticisms.

Series: Classical Presences

First, the author's engagement with the work of Irigaray, while on the whole sympathetic, is not as clearly written as other parts of the book; this follows, in part, from the chapter-divisions, so this discussion is split between the second and third chapters. Irigaray's re-politicizing of Antigone and questioning of the symbolic and the natural as foundations for our imagination and our law tie up nicely with some of Derrida's work also discussed in this chapter.

These threads could have been brought together and discussed further. The authors she investigates, who include Lacan, Derrida, Foucault, and Vernant, have had an incalculable influence on the direction of classical studies over the last thirty years, but classicists have yet to give due attention to the crucial role of the ancient world in the development of their philosophy. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Show More Show Less. Any Condition Any Condition.

Miriam Leonard

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