Athens in Paris: Ancient Greece and the Political in Postwar French Thought

By Miriam Leonard | Go to book overview

3
Socrates and the Analytic City

FROM OEDIPUS TO SOCRATES … FROM
HEGEL TO NIETZSCHE

Socrates, who lived in a republican state where every citizen spoke
with every other … without didactic tone, without the appearance of
wanting to enlighten, he would start an ordinary conversation, then
steer it in the most subtle fashion toward a lesson that taught itself
spontaneously. The Jews, on the other hand, were long accustomed
to being harangued in a far cruder fashion by their national poets.
The synagogues had accustomed their ears to direct instruction and
moral sermonizing.

Hegel, Three Essays

Socrates belonged to the extraction of the lowest of people: Socrates
was rabble. We know, we can see, how ugly he was. But ugliness, in
itself an objection, is to Greeks practically a refutation. Was Socrates
actually really a Greek? Ugliness is often enough the expression of a
cross-bred development stunted by cross-breeding. If not, then it
appears as development in decline. The anthropologists among crim-
inologists tell us that the typical criminal is ugly: monstrum in fronte,
monstrum in animo
. But the criminal is a decadent. Was Socrates a
typical criminal?

Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

‘Oedipus giving the solution, Man, precipitated the Sphinx from her rock.’1 His solution contained within it the Greek realization ‘that the Inner Being of Nature is Thought, which has its existence

1 Hegel (1902), 220; (1986a), 272.

-157-

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Athens in Paris: Ancient Greece and the Political in Postwar French Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Classical Presences i
  • Classical Presences ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Table of Contents ix
  • Note on Translations x
  • Introduction: 'Nous Autres Grecs'1 1
  • 1 - Oedipus and the Political Subject 22
  • 2 - Antigone between Ethics and Politics 96
  • 3 - Socrates and the Analytic City 157
  • Epilogue: Reception and the Political 216
  • References 232
  • Index 255
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