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Slavery in Plato's Allegory of the Cave: Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière, and the Militant Intellectual from the Global South

Abstract

In this article I argue that Plato's allegory of the cave dramatizes democracy's dependency on slavery. Plato's cave forces the theatre, the political space of ancient Greek representation, to confront its material dependency upon a space from which it is otherwise visually and territorially separated: the mines where intensive use was made of slave labor. As many have argued, the most salient aspects of Plato's allegory of the cave are the complete absence of lexis (speech) and praxis (action), the evacuation of the acoustic and the distortion of the visual. These are also the most decisive features when delimiting the border between the free and the unfree in Greek antiquity:

Do you think these prisoners have ever seen anything of themselves and one another besides the shadows that the fire casts on the wall of the cave in front of them? … And if they could engage in discussion with one another, don't you think they would assume that the words they used applied to the things they see passing in front of them?

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      Slavery in Plato's Allegory of the Cave: Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière, and the Militant Intellectual from the Global South
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Corresponding author
Andres.HenaoCastro@umb.edu
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Martin Puchner , The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Alain Badiou , “The Lessons of Jacques Rancière: Knowledge and Power after the Storm,” trans. Tzuchien Tho , in Jacques Rancière: History, Politics, Aesthetics, ed. Gabriel Rockhill and Philip Watts (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 3054, at 37–8

Rachel Barney , “ Eros and Necessity in the Ascent from the Cave,Ancient Philosophy 28.2 (2008): 357–72

Yulia Ustinova , Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind: Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Gregory Vlastos , “Slavery in Plato's Thought,Philosophical Review 50.3 (1941): 289304

Peter Hallward , “Staging Equality: Rancière's Theatrocracy and the Limits of Anarchic Equality,” in Jacques Rancière: History, Politics, Aesthetics, ed. Gabriel Rockhill and Philip Watts (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 140–57, at 141

Richard Halpern , “Theater and Democratic Thought: Arendt to Rancière,Critical Inquiry 37.3 (2011): 545–72

Alain Badiou , “Rhapsody for the Theatre,Theatre Survey 49.2 (2008): 187238

Gregory Vlastos , “Does Slavery Exist in Plato's Philosophy?,Classical Philology 63.4 (1968): 291–5, at 294

Caroline Levander and Walter Mignolo , “Introduction: The Global South and World Dis/Order,Global South 5.1 (2011): 111

Walter Mignolo , The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011)

Sylvia Wynter , “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, after Man, Its Overrepresentation—An Argument,New Centennial Review 3.3 (2003): 257337

Saskia Sassen , Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014)

Simon Goldhill , “The Audience of Athenian Tragedy,” in The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy, ed. P. E. Easterling (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 5468, at 60–5

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Theatre Survey
  • ISSN: 0040-5574
  • EISSN: 1475-4533
  • URL: /core/journals/theatre-survey
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