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Free speech in the ancient democracy was not a protected right but an expression of the freedom from hierarchy, awe, reverence and shame. That freedom was challenged by the consequences of the rejection of shame (aidos) which had served as a cohesive force within the polity. Through readings of Socrates's trial, Greek tragedy and comedy, Thucydides's History, and Plato's Protagoras, this volume explores the paradoxical connections between free speech, democracy, shame, and Socratic philosophy and Thucydidean history.Read more
- Explores both ancient and modern theories of free speech
- Brings the notion of shame into democratic theory
- Offers novel readings of some of the classic texts of ancient Greece - Plato, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Thucydides
Reviews & endorsements
"The material is meticulously researched and well presented. The most obvious lesson we learn is that, regardless of the period in which ti is practiced, free speech in a democracy is neither absolute nor arbitrarily inhibited. Instead, it is based on the combination of previous experience, present circumstances, and the characteristics of the polity." - Samuel B. Hoff, Department of History, Political Science and Philosophy, Delaware State UniversitySee more reviews
"...the true accomplishment of this book is to reveal the connection between democracy and philosophy through their common dependence on parrhêsia. Each relies on frankness in speech and a willingness on the part of the speaker to expose his or her self to the criticism and, at its best, the instruction of others. However, democratic polities must rely on more than parrhêsia to preserve themselves: They also rely on its opposite, on shame....we learn that the philosophic pretenses of democracy will and can never be met."
Geoffey M. Vaughan, University of Maryland - Baltimore, Perspectives on Politics
"Although such contemporary debates animate her book, Saxonhouse is also attuned to the difficulties of using ancient Athenian institutions as models for modern political theory. The result is an extraordinarily rich and thoughtful book that is both theoretically sophisticated and historically nuanced; it is a model of how historical scholarship can illuminate contemporary political theory."
Thornton C. Lockwood Jr., Fordham University, Political Theory
"This superb new book by Arlene Saxonhouse deserves a wide audience...this volume contains an exceptionally thoughtful, meticulously erudite, and provocatively wise meditation on the significance of the concept and practice of parrhêsia in the democracy of ancient Athens..."
Leslie Friedman Goldstein, The Review of Politics
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- Date Published: February 2008
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521721585
- length: 246 pages
- dimensions: 227 x 159 x 15 mm
- weight: 0.34kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Prologue: four stories
Part I. Introduction:
1. The legacy of free speech
2. Democratic amnesia
Part II. Aidos:
3. The tale of two gyges: shame, community, and the public/private self
Part III. Parrhesia: The Practice of Free Speech in Ancient Athens:
4. The practice of free speech
5. The trial of Socrates
Part IV. The Limits of Free Speech:
6. Truth and tragedy
7. Thucydides's Assemblies
8. Protagoras's shame and Socrates's speech
Conclusion: four paradoxes.
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