Portræt af en sofist

Portræt af en sofist


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Apuleius. En latinsk sofist

At åbningen af ​​et værk ofte giver stor opmærksomhed, er en sandhed, der almindeligvis, om ikke universelt, anerkendes. Priscian i det sjette århundrede afsatte en afhandling på mere end halvtreds sider til åbningslinjen for hver bog i Aeneid. Det indledende afsnit i Apuleius ’s Metamorfoser har affødt et vilkårligt antal artikler, samt en konference i 1996, og nu en 300 siders ledsager. ” 1 Så det kan være lige så godt at se nærmere på åbningssætningen i Stephen Harrisons nye bog og den kapselevaluering, det tilbyder af sit emne: “Apuleius-display-taler og professionel intellektuel i Nordafrika i det andet århundrede, platonistisk filosof, ekstraordinær stylist, ubarmhjertig selvpromotor og alsidig forfatter til et bemærkelsesværdigt mangfoldigt værk, hvoraf mange er tabt for os. ” (v) Ukontroversiel, måske ved første øjekast. Eller er det? Hvad skete der med “ -forfatteren af ​​den eneste komplette overlevende latinske roman, ” “ -skaberen af ​​den hjemsøgte historie om Amor og Psyke ” eller “ -kilde og inspiration til fabulister fra Boccaccio til Pater ”? H. vender sig faktisk til Metamorfoser i det sidste af hans seks kapitler, men hovedformålet med hans bog er at se på Apuleius værker som en sammenhængende helhed, hvoraf Metamorfoser udgør kun en del. Blandt nyere undersøgelser er dens nærmeste affinitet (som H. selv bemærker) med Gerald Sandy ’s 1997 undersøgelse Den græske verden af ​​Apuleius. Begge bøger er bekymrede for at placere Apuleius ’s værker i den kulturelle kontekst af den anden sofistiske begge giver hidtil uset rum til Apologi, Florida og filosofiske værker og begge karakteriserer Apuleius som en “Latin sofist. ” 2 Men hvor Sandy privilegerer “sofisten ” halvdelen af ​​mærket, hvilket understreger Apuleius 'forbindelser med den græske verden af ​​titlen, giver H. adjektiv lige tid og holder spotlyset fast på Apuleius selv. Mindre gentaget og bedre organiseret end Sandy, han er også efter min mening mere vellykket med at forklare, hvordan en sofistisk læsning af Apuleius påvirker fortolkningen af Metamorfoser, som trods alt er det arbejde, de fleste læsere først vil henvende sig til og vende tilbage til hyppigst.

Åbningskapitlet omhandler Apuleius i kontekst: liv, baggrund, skrifter. ” H. skitserer her kortfattet og præcist 3 de kendte fakta om Apuleius 'liv og gennemgår kort de eksisterende værker, der er tilskrevet ham. H. accepterer den nuværende konsensus om den apuleiske kanon. Det De Platone og De Mundo accepteres som sandsynligvis ægte og behandles derfor i efterfølgende kapitler. Det Peri Hermeneias udelades som sandsynligvis ikke-apuleisk (og under alle omstændigheder for teknisk til at drage fordel af H ’s mere litterære tilgang) så også den Asclepius, som H., ligesom de fleste andre forskere, betragter som bestemt ikke-autentisk. 4 De sparsomme beviser for dating er beskrevet H. ville foretrække en sen dato (170'erne eller 180'erne) for Metamorfoser men erkender, at spørgsmålet stadig er åbent. Der er ingen større nyheder her, men diskussionen er klart oplagt og veldokumenteret: dette er en god indledende læsning til et Apuleius-seminar. Specialister derimod vil sandsynligvis have størst fordel af den ekstremt fulde diskussion af de apuleiske fragmenter og vidnesbyrd (s. 14-36). Mens han gav noget tæt på en kommentar til disse emner, er H. også bekymret over at understrege nogle overordnede temaer, som han understreger i et afsluttende afsnit. Disse omfatter den bevidst encyklopædiske karakter af Apuleius ’s corpus den store rolle, kompilering, snarere end original komposition, spillede i den og endelig egenskaberne, Apuleius deler med den sofistikerede bevægelse i hans tid: “hans status som en stjernekunstner … , hans åbenlyse selvpromovering og kult af sin egen personlighed, og hans vidunderligt viste litterære og videnskabelige polymati ” (38).

Kapitel 2 (“A Sophist in Court ”) er afsat til Apologi. H. begynder med at skitsere historien om Pudentilla-sagen, for så vidt det kan rekonstrueres, og diskuterer, om talen blev revideret efter aflevering (sandsynligvis), og om titlen Apologia er Apuleian (sandsynligvis ikke). Derefter tilbyder han en detaljeret analyse af talens struktur med nogle kommentarer til strategien bag, før han går til en nærlæsning af de enkelte afsnit. Han er hele tiden bekymret for at understrege to tråde i talen. Den første er dens gæld til retsmedicinere - især Cicero - hvilket er tydeligt i fraseologi (f.eks. 25,5 aggredior … ad ipsum crimen, ekko Pro Cluentio 8), retoriske figurer som f.eks. Hurtigspørgsmål på 27,5 fff. og 103.2f. eller prosopopoe af brevet i 83.2, ekspertudnyttelsen af ​​dilemma og den mesterlige brug af den ciceroniske specialitet, den tendentiøse narratio. Men disse retsmedicinske træk er sammenflettet med en anden, mere sofistikeret streng. Apuleius tilbyder ikke kun en tilbagevisning af anklagerne mod ham, men en blændende fremvisning af litterære citater, mytologiske og platoniske hentydninger, anekdoter om kasser og Sofokles, meditationer om fattigdom og tandhygiejne, observationer af pseudonymer i de elegiske digtere og bravuraforestillinger af zoologiske viden. I generiske termer blander talen således “ retsmedicin med den epideiktiske ” (44). Som H. understreger, er de epideiktiske elementer imidlertid lige så vigtig en del af Apuleius ’s forsøgsstrategi som de retsmedicinske som de komiske elementer i Pro Caelio, deres formål er at skabe et bånd mellem højttaler og publikum, samtidig med at det forhindrer oppositionens forsøg på at gøre det samme. Konkret er Apuleius sofistiske persona her beregnet til at skænke ham den filosofisk sindede prokonsul Claudius Maximus, mens han konstruerer sine modstandere som boorish og ondsindet rustik, der ikke er i stand til at skelne en ichthyologist fra en necromancer. Her viser det sig, at eksistensen af ​​et modtageligt publikum er afgørende for sofistens selvpræsentation: For en prokonsul, der ikke er sympatisk for litterære og filosofiske bekymringer, kunne Apuleius meget vel have frembragt et forsvar, der er ret anderledes end det eksisterende Undskyldning” (87). I kapitlets afsluttende afsnit bemærker H. græske paralleller til forening af sofistik med magi og til oratorisk selvberettigelse, samtidig med at det understreger på ny, hvor meget Apologi skyldes romersk tradition.

I det tredje kapitel henvender H. sig til de understudierede Florida. Kapitelets åbning og afslutning omhandler den komplicerede tekstsituation. Det eksisterende Florida er et sæt uddrag lavet af en senere redaktør (måske Crispus Sallustius, der dukker op i abonnementer til de andre værker?) fra en længere samling i fire bøger, måske sammensat af Apuleius selv. Titlen peger sandsynligvis på værkets oprindelse som en antologi frem for at repræsentere en stilistisk dom. Det sidste afsnit diskuterer de udvælgelsesprincipper, der kunne have frembragt det arbejde, vi nu har. Selvom H ’s konklusioner uundgåeligt er foreløbige, er billedet af det eksisterende Florida som en slags retor ’s mønsterbog er overbevisende nok. Han bemærker, at “ alle ekstrakterne giver nyttige modeller af bestemte retoriske teknikker ” (133), mens mange af dem har direkte links til specifikke progymnasmata. Karthago's fremtrædende plads i udvælgelserne kan pege på et karthagisk uddrag, selvom det måske blot afspejler Apuleius 'tætte forbindelse til byen.

Den centrale del af kapitlet analyserer de enkelte uddrag (herunder det såkaldte ‘falsk forord ’ til De Deo Socratis). H. fokuserer på tema og emne, men lægger også stor vægt på den stilistiske konstruktion af hvert stykke og leveringsbetingelserne, for så vidt de kan udledes af teksten. Diskussionen er ikke en erstatning for den fulde kommentar, denne tekst stadig har hårdt brug for, da H. er den første til at anerkende (89), men det er en værdifuld start. H. er naturligvis primært interesseret i de sofistiske træk ved uddragene. Han gør opmærksom på temaer, der deles af Apuleius og hans græske kolleger, f.eks. anekdoter og chreiai involverer intellektuelle, valorisering af filosoffer og polymater og de overfladiske etnografiske interesser, der vises i Florida 6. Han er også god til at få frem den uophørlige preening og selvforstørrelse, der er indeholdt i disse stykker, adfærd som karakteristisk for retorikere fra det andet århundrede som for moderne hiphop-artister (Herodes Atticus og Sean ‘Puffy ’ Combs ville have mere at gøre tale om end blot deres juridiske trængsler). En sådan sofistisk dystring udføres ofte i detaljerede metaforer eller gennem mytologiske proxies, som i Florida 3, hvor H. helt sikkert har ret i at se historien om Apollo og Marsyas som et set-up for en sammenligning af Apuleius med en eller anden rival. Noget lignende ligger uden tvivl til grund for den berømte papegøjebeskrivelse af Florida 12, selvom H. er ordentligt forsigtig her.

Med kapitel 4 vender vi os til de filosofiske værker og specifikt til De Deo Socratis. Endnu en gang begynder H. med at udlægge den tekstmæssige situation, værket er acefalisk og mangler sandsynligvis også sin oprindelige konklusion. Selvom han anerkender værdien af ​​værket for gammel demonologi, lægger H ’s primære vægt her på de litterære aspekter og igen på samspillet mellem sofistiske og romerske elementer. Han noterer sig den generelle interesse for Sokrates 'dæmon blandt forfattere i forbindelse med den anden sofistiske, samt de specifikke forbindelser til Maximus fra Tyrus behandling af emnet ( Eller. 8 og 9), som sandsynligvis angiver en fælles græsk kilde. Samtidig er H. bekymret over at understrege de romerske elementer, Apuleius introducerer: en tung Lucretian -farve sammen med ekkoer af Cicero ’s philosophica og Seneca -citater fra Ennius, Accius, Plautus og Vergil og andre træk ved romersk kulturel diskurs, som kataloget over tegn og vidunderbarn på 135, regnskabsmaterialet på 170 og fordømmelsen af ​​ekstravagant bygning kl. 171. “ igen er Apuleius ses at levere noget af kulturen i den græske anden sofistiske til et romersk nordafrikansk publikum og tilpasse sin protreptiske diskotek … til lokale kulturelle horisonter ” (173).

Kapitel 5 dækker De Mundo og De Platone, som både er forbundet med deres didaktiske træk og ved mistanke om deres ægthed H. accepterer en sen dating for begge og ser ikke forskelle i prosarytme som en nødvendig barriere for det apuleiske forfatterskab. Ved vurderingen af De Mundo, H. overbeviser om forskellene mellem Apuleius latin og den græske original, som han igen ser som en bevidst tilpasning af en græsk original til behovene hos et latinstalende læsertal. Således omdannes athenske institutioner til romerske termer, emner af interesse kun for et græsk publikum udelades, og homeriske hentydninger tager bagsæde til nye Vergiliansk ekkoer. Det De Platone H. betragter som en oversættelse eller tilpasning af en græsk håndbog, der tilhører den samme middelplatonistiske tradition som [Alcinous ’s] Didaskalikos” (197), en sammenligning, han udvikler i detaljer, men uden at stille en direkte forbindelse mellem de to værker. Som i de andre filosofiske værker introducerer Apuleius en vis mængde romersk litterær farve H. noterer ekkoer af især Plautus, Lucretius og Cicero. I betragtning af disse to teksters fodgængerkarakter har H ’s litterære tilgang mindre at arbejde med, hvis læsere er tilbøjelige til at springe til det sidste kapitel om Metamorfoser, skylden ligger stort set hos Apuleius.

H ’s Golden Ass er “A Sophist ’s Novel ” i mindst to betydninger: en bog ikke kun af en sofist, men i en vis forstand om en. Lucius, hævder H., er karakteriseret som en sofist i vente, eller i det mindste som en skikkelse med genkendeligt høj status og ambitioner inden for den anden sofists kulturelle verden. ” Jeg ville selv foretrække den anden, mere forsigtige formulering. At Lucius er i stand til at starte ind i en improviseret forsvarstale på Risus-festivalen tyder på, at han har gennemgået en standard overklasse-retorisk uddannelse-men det kræver sikkert mere end det at gøre en mand til sofist. Lucius mangler trods alt mange af de væsentlige sofistiske egenskaber, han rejser, men ikke som en erklærer har han ingen studerende, og selvom Lucius fra bog 11 lever af sin tunge, er det retsmedicinsk og ikke epideiktisk oratorium, han praktiserer. Jeg er endnu mindre overbevist af H ’s forslag om, at Lucius specifikt er beregnet til at huske den troværdige taler Aelius Aristides. H. bemærker, at begge er godtroende forbrugere af religion og har visioner og drømme, hvori de modtager instruktioner, begge er indledt i kulterne af egyptiske guder, begge synes guderne er nyttige i deres oratoriske karriere. “Det virker svært at tro, at disse paralleller er tilfældige ” bemærker H. (251) Men jeg må sige, at jeg slet ikke synes det er svært. Overlevelsen af Hellige fortællinger efterlader Aelius Aristides som det bedst dokumenterede eksempel på, hvad der sikkert må have været et meget mere udbredt fænomen. Man kan acceptere, at Apuleius sender sin alder op og smager for at skrive om religiøse kulter og personlig religiøs erfaring ” (ibid.) Uden nødvendigvis at tage sigte på et bestemt individ.

På den anden side har H. helt sikkert ret i at understrege de sofistiske træk, der kendetegner selve teksten. Retorisk improvisation spiller en fremtrædende rolle på Risus -festivalen - a kontroverser komme til live - mens historien om den fattige og den voldsomme nabo klokken 9.35ff. minder om almindelige erklæringssituationer (jeg undrer mig i øvrigt på, om Apuleius 'undrende modvilje mod at give navne til sine karakterer måske har noget at gøre med hans uddannelse i deklamationsskolernes generiske verden, befolket som med navngivne navne broder, novercae, patres og uxores ?). Sammen med sofistiske situationer i fortællingen bemærker H. også tilstedeværelsen af ​​sofistiske kompositionsteknikker: de forskellige eksempler på ekfrase (Actaeon -statuen, Amor -paladset, røverne og#8217 -hulen …), de allestedsnærværende litterære hentydninger (især til episk), den snedige omarbejdning af Phaedrus og Symposium og den prangende fremvisning af teknisk viden, brugt med samme facilitet på elefantgraviditet, symptomer på rabies eller Isiac -ritualer.

Som denne sidste sammenhæng måske antyder, tager H et mere kavalerisk syn på Lucius ’s Isiac -konvertering end mange nyere tolke. Han er på forkant med dette: Metamorfoserne viser et utvivlsomt detaljeret kendskab til isiacs religion, men denne interesse bruges til kulturel og intellektuel fremvisning og satirisk underholdning frem for at hævde ethvert ideologisk eller personligt engagement ” (238). Den sidste bog er faktisk en sofistisk satire om religiøs charlatanry, der kan sammenlignes med Lucian ’s “Alexander the False Prophet. ” H. her skylder (og anerkender) en betydelig gæld til Jack Winkler, hvis indflydelsesrige Auctor & Skuespiller lagde først meget af beviset for denne læsning op. Men hvor Winkler så den satiriske læsning som sameksisterende med en seriøs - Apuleius inviterede begge dele, mens han godkendte ingen af ​​dem - vælger H. afgørende for den komiske fortolkning. Pengene, den endeløse række nye indvielser, Lucius ’s åbne øjne naivitet-for H. disse er for meget at sluge. Lucius ’s visioner er stadig noget problematiske, men H. kommer uden om dem ved at argumentere for, at Lucius, en hyperdutiful og autosuggestiv religiøs galning, faktisk er medskyldig i sin egen udnyttelse. 5

Men hvis Metamorfoser ikke er beregnet til at være en bevægende fortælling om sjælens rejse til tro, en involveret platonisk allegori eller en meditation om arten af ​​religiøs tro, hvad er formålet? For H. har det to mål: at underholde sit publikum (er det trods alt ikke hvad forordet lover os?) Og at forlænge dens forfatteres berømmelse. Romanen er i virkeligheden en udvidet visning af kulturel kapital ” (en sætning lånt fra Pierre Bourdieu), der har til formål at vise Apuleius kompositionskræfter, som den udgør den største udfordring for. Som H. udtrykker det, er problemet for en selvfremmende sofistisk intellektuel i at skrive fiktiv fortælling, hvordan man holder fokus på sig selv, når han ikke taler om sig selv, som han kan gøre, når han erklærer sig. Derfor er romanens påtrængende metafiktive elementer (prologens skiftende stemme, den øjeblikkelige udskiftning af den gamle kvinde med huius Milesiae konditor kl. 4.32.6, den berygtede “Madaurensis ” passage i Bog 11), der tilsammen udgør en “ -strategi, der henleder opmærksomheden på eksistensen og virtuos status af værkets forfatter ” (233). Dette er en indsigt, som faktisk kunne udvides mere bredt. Læsere har ofte bemærket, at alle karaktererne, fra slaver og røvere til præster, magistrater og gudinden Isis selv, taler på samme udførlige apuleianske latin. Hvorfor glemmer Apuleius muligheden (så venlig for Petronius) til “ at gøre politiet med forskellige stemmer ”? H. giver implicit et svar: nytten af ​​denne stil er netop dens ensartede kunstighed. Usandsynligt Dorothy i Troldmanden fra Oz, der bliver instrueret i ikke at være opmærksom på manden bag forhænget, ” bliver vi løbende mindet om, hvem der trækker i trådene og flytter håndtagene på denne imponerende barokmaskine.

Man krymper ved at anvende ordet “radical ” på sådan en omhyggelig, niveauløs og klart argumenteret bog. Men dens konklusion er virkelig en radikal. Paradoksalt nok, hævder H., kan vi bedre sætte pris på Apuleius 'reelle præstation ved at tage ham mindre alvorligt (inderst inde er han virkelig meget lavvandet). For at være sikker har andre fra tid til anden udtrykt lignende domme. Mange læsere af H. vil blive mindet om Perrys analyse af Metamorfoser som et slapdash -stykke af Unterhaltungsliteratur (selvom H. har større respekt for Apuleius kompositionskompetencer) eller Rudolf Helms karakterisering af Apologi som et mesterværk af den anden sofistiske. 6 Men diskursens centrum har været andre steder. Fra Fulgentius og Beroaldus til Merkelbach og Winkler, kritik af Metamorfoser har vedvarende længtes efter en dybere betydning i Apuleius (eller i Winkler ’s tilfælde måske en dybere mangel på betydning). Ikke alle intentionelle læsere vil blive henrykte over H ’s portræt af en forfatter “, til hvem bredde og hurtig komposition ofte må have været vigtigere end dybde og udførligt litterært håndværk ” (209). Men selv dem, der er uenige, vil blive stimuleret af denne bog, let den bedste undersøgelse til dato af denne nysgerrige og forvirrende forfatter. 7

1. A. Laird og A. Kahane, red. En ledsager til prologen til Apuleius ’ Metamorphoses (Oxford, kommende).

2. Sammenlign med H ’s undertekst sammenligne undertitlen til Sandy ’s Chapter One (“The Formation of a Latin Sophist ”), og titlerne på Chapter Four (“Orator Sophisticus Latinus ”) og Five (“Philosophus Sophisticus Latinus ”).

3. Man sukker ved at læse, at Apuleius sandsynligvis talte punisk som sit sprog i første sprog ” (2). Dette er måske ikke helt usandt (bemærk den kvalificerende “vernacular ”), men det føder den stadig for almindelige tro på, at latin ikke var Apuleius ’s første sprog, og at det på en eller anden måde tegner sig for hans barokke prosastil - som om han var en en slags andet århundrede Nabokov. Det vigtige punkt er den, H. gør på den næste side: “Apuleius … er grundlæggende romersk i kulturel identitet og en indfødt taler og forfatter af latin. ”

4. Harrison er ikke overbevist (med rette, tror jeg) af V. Hunink, “Apuleius og Asclepius, ” Vigiliae Christianae 50 (1996), 288-308, der forsøger at flytte diskussionen til en mere agnostisk position.

5. H. beskæftiger sig ikke med den senere modtagelse af Apuleius, men han har måske bemærket, at Metamorfoser‘ bedste læser er muligvis den anonyme forfatter af Lazarillo de Tormes, hvis pikareske helt afslutter sin beretning med at beskrive, hvordan han slog sig ned som bykrigeren i Toledo og giftede sig ved hjælp af en lokal prelat, den skeptiske læser indser snart, at prelatens motiver ikke er så uskyldige, som de ser ud til. Hvis de nogensinde kommer til at lave filmen af Golden Ass som Helen Elsom engang opfordrede til (“Apuleius og filmene, GCN 2 (1989), 141-150 bliver det nødt til at ende med Lucius som konvertit til scientologi, der arbejder på et advokatfirma for at betale for sine endeløse auditsessioner.


Den sociale positivisme i Comte og Mill

Comtes positivisme udgjorde påstanden om en såkaldt lov om de tre faser (eller stadier) af intellektuel udvikling. Der er en parallel, som Comte så det, mellem udviklingen af ​​tankemønstre i hele menneskehedens historie på den ene side og i historien om et individs udvikling fra barndom til voksenalder på den anden side. I den første eller såkaldte teologiske fase forklares naturfænomener som resultater af overnaturlige eller guddommelige kræfter. Det er ligegyldigt, om religionen i begge tilfælde er polyteistisk eller monoteistisk, menes at mirakuløse kræfter eller vilje frembringer de observerede begivenheder. Denne fase blev kritiseret af Comte som antropomorf-dvs. hviler på alt for menneskelige analogier. Generelt afvises animistiske forklaringer-foretaget med hensyn til de sjællignende væseners vilje, der opererer bag optrædenerne-som primitive fremskrivninger af ikke-verificerbare enheder.

Den anden fase, kaldet metafysisk, er i nogle tilfælde blot en depersonaliseret teologi: de observerbare processer i naturen antages at stamme fra upersonlige kræfter, okkulte kvaliteter, vitale kræfter eller entelekier (interne perfektionprincipper). I andre tilfælde betragtes området med observerbare fakta som en ufuldkommen kopi eller efterligning af evige ideer, som i Platons metafysik af rene former. Igen påstod Comte, at ingen ægte forklaringer resulterer i spørgsmål vedrørende den ultimative virkelighed, første årsager eller absolut begyndelse, således erklæres at være absolut ubesvarede. Den metafysiske søgen kan kun føre til den konklusion, som den tyske biolog og fysiolog Emil du Bois-Reymond udtrykte: "Ignoramus et ignorabimus" (latin: "Vi er og skal være uvidende"). Det er et bedrag gennem verbale virkemidler og den resultatløse gengivelse af begreber som virkelige ting.

Den slags frugtbarhed, den mangler, kan kun opnås i tredje fase, den videnskabelige eller "positive" fase - deraf titlen på Comtes magnum opus: Cours de philosophie positiv (1830–42) - fordi den hævder kun at være optaget af positive fakta. Videnskabernes og viden generelt har til opgave at studere fakta og regelmæssigheder i naturen og samfundet og formulere regelmæssighederne som (beskrivende) love forklaringer på fænomener kan bestå i mere end opsummering af særlige tilfælde under generelle love . Mennesket nåede først fuld tankegang efter at have opgivet pseudoforklaringerne i de teologiske og metafysiske faser og erstattet en ubegrænset overholdelse af videnskabelig metode.

I sine tre faser kombinerede Comte, hvad han betragtede som en redegørelse for den historiske udviklingsorden med en logisk analyse af videnskabernes planlagte struktur. Ved at arrangere de seks grundlæggende og rene videnskaber hinanden efter hinanden i en pyramide, forberedte Comte vejen for logisk positivisme til at "reducere" hvert niveau til det under det. Han placerede på det grundlæggende niveau den videnskab, der ikke forudsætter andre videnskaber - dvs. matematik - og beordrede derefter niveauerne over den på en sådan måde, at hver videnskab afhænger af og gør brug af videnskaberne under den på skalaen : således erklæres regning og talteori for at være forudsætninger for geometri og mekanik, astronomi, fysik, kemi, biologi (inklusive fysiologi) og sociologi. Hver videnskab på højere niveau tilføjer igen videnskabsindholdet i videnskaben eller videnskaberne på nedenstående niveauer og beriger dermed dette indhold ved successiv specialisering. Psykologi, som først blev grundlagt som en formel disciplin i slutningen af ​​1800 -tallet, var ikke inkluderet i Comtes videnskabssystem. Comte antog, at nogle af ideerne om behaviourisme og fysikalisme fra det 20. århundrede, at psykologi, som den var på hans tid, skulle blive en gren af ​​biologi (især af hjernens neurofysiologi) på den ene side og af sociologi på den anden side. Som sociologiens "far" fastholdt Comte, at samfundsvidenskaberne skulle gå fra observationer til generelle love, meget som (efter hans opfattelse) fysik og kemi gør. Han var skeptisk over for introspektion i psykologien, da han var overbevist om, at i forbindelse med sine egne mentale tilstande ville disse tilstande uigenkaldeligt blive ændret og forvrænget. Ved således at insistere på nødvendigheden af ​​objektiv observation, var han tæt på det grundlæggende princip for metodologien for det 20. århundredes adfærdsmåde.

Blandt Comtes disciple eller sympatisører var Cesare Lombroso, en italiensk psykiater og kriminolog, og Paul-Emile Littré, J.-E. Renan og Louis Weber.

På trods af nogle grundlæggende uenigheder med Comte må den engelske filosof John Stuart Mill fra det 19. århundrede, også han være logiker og økonom, betragtes som en af ​​hans århundredes fremragende positivister. I hans System af logik (1843) udviklede han en grundigt empiristisk teori om viden og om videnskabeligt ræsonnement, der gik så langt som til at betragte logik og matematik som empiriske (om end meget generelle) videnskaber. Den stort set syntetiske filosof Herbert Spencer, forfatter til en doktrin om det "ukendte" og en generel evolutionær filosofi, var ved siden af ​​Mill en fremragende eksponent for en positivistisk orientering.


Find primære kilder

Primære kilder kan forblive i private hænder eller er placeret i arkiver, biblioteker, museer, historiske samfund og særlige samlinger. Disse kan være offentlige eller private. Nogle er tilknyttet universiteter og gymnasier, mens andre er offentlige enheder. Materialer vedrørende et område kan være spredt over et stort antal forskellige institutioner. Disse kan være fjernt fra dokumentets oprindelige kilde. F.eks. Rummer Huntington Library i Californien et stort antal dokumenter fra Storbritannien. Selvom teknologiens udvikling har resulteret i et stigende antal digitaliserede kilder, er de fleste primære kildematerialer ikke digitaliseret og er muligvis kun repræsenteret online med rekord eller hjælp.

Traditionelt forsøger historikere at besvare historiske spørgsmål gennem undersøgelse af skriftlige dokumenter og mundtlige beretninger. De bruger også sådanne kilder som monumenter, inskriptioner og billeder. Generelt kan kilderne til historisk viden opdeles i tre kategorier: hvad der skrives, hvad der siges, og hvad der fysisk bevares. Historikere konsulterer ofte alle tre. Imidlertid er skrivning den markør, der adskiller historien fra det, der kommer før.

Arkæologi er en disciplin, der især er nyttig for historikere. Ved at håndtere begravede steder og objekter bidrager det til genopbygningen af ​​fortiden. Arkæologi består imidlertid af en række metoder og fremgangsmåder, der er uafhængige af historien. Med andre ord fylder arkæologi ikke hullerne inden for tekstkilder, men kontrasterer ofte sine konklusioner mod samtidige tekstkilder.

Arkæologi giver også et illustrerende eksempel på, hvordan historikere kan hjælpes, når der mangler skriftlige optegnelser. At afdække artefakter og arbejde med arkæologer for at fortolke dem baseret på ekspertisen fra en bestemt historisk æra og kulturelt eller geografisk område er en effektiv måde at rekonstruere fortiden på. Hvis der mangler skriftlige optegnelser, forsøger historikere ofte at indsamle mundtlige beretninger om bestemte begivenheder, fortrinsvis af øjenvidner, men nogle gange på grund af tiden er de tvunget til at arbejde med de følgende generationer. Spørgsmålet om pålideligheden af ​​mundhistorien er således blevet bredt diskuteret.

Når man behandler mange regeringsoptegnelser, skal historikere normalt vente i en bestemt periode, før dokumenter afklassificeres og er tilgængelige for forskere. Af politiske årsager kan mange følsomme optegnelser blive ødelagt, trukket tilbage fra samlinger eller skjult, hvilket også kan tilskynde forskere til at stole på mundtlige historier. Manglende optegnelser over begivenheder eller processer, som historikere mener fandt sted baseret på meget fragmentariske beviser, tvinger historikere til at søge information i optegnelser, der muligvis ikke er en sandsynlig informationskilde. Da arkivforskning altid er tidskrævende og arbejdskrævende, udgør denne tilgang risikoen for aldrig at give de ønskede resultater, på trods af den tid og kræfter, der er investeret i at finde informative og pålidelige ressourcer. I nogle tilfælde er historikere tvunget til at spekulere (dette skal eksplicit bemærkes) eller ganske enkelt indrømme, at vi ikke har tilstrækkelige oplysninger til at rekonstruere bestemte tidligere begivenheder eller processer.


Rhapsode

Vores redaktører gennemgår, hvad du har indsendt, og afgør, om artiklen skal revideres.

Rhapsode, også kaldet rhapsodist, Græsk rhapsoidos, flertal rhapsoder eller rhapsoidoi, en sanger i det antikke Grækenland. Gamle forskere foreslog to etymologier. Den første relaterede ordet til personalet (rhabdos), som sangeren støttede sig til under sin optræden. I denne opfattelse er rhapsode en "sanger med en stav." Den anden forbandt ordet med den poetiske syning (rhaptein) digtet (oide). Således er rhapsode en "syning af sange". Moderne forskere foretrækker den anden etymologi, som er attesteret i et fragment af Hesiod (7. århundrede f.Kr.) og i Pindars Nemean ode 2, linje 1-3. Begge passager bruger ordet rhaptein at beskrive handlingen af ​​poetisk komposition. Navneordet rhapsoidose findes først i 5. århundrede f.Kr.-inskriptioner og litterære kilder, herunder Herodotus (Historie, Bog V, del 67) og Sofokles (Ødipus Tyrannus, linje 391).

Den almindelige opfattelse er, at rhapsoder udelukkende var recitere af andres kompositioner, som de overførte til hukommelsen. I den mundtlige tradition for episk poesi repræsenterer de scenen, der fulgte den aoidoieller bards, der skabte digte om traditionelle episke emner hver gang de optrådte. De gamle vidnesbyrd tillader imidlertid ikke en så klar og sikker sondring, i hvert fald gennem det 6. århundrede f.Kr. Inskriptioner viser, at rhapsodes fortsatte med at fungere gennem 3. århundrede annonce.


Portræt af en sofist - Historie

Billeder af autoritet II: Det græske eksempel

Et slående træk ved tidlig græsk kunst er det relative fravær af linealbilleder. Dette repræsenterer en skarp kontrast til den rolle, linealbilleder spillede i egyptiske og gamle nærøstlige kulturer. Ovenstående arbejde ser først ud til at være en mulig undtagelse. Dette er en romersk kopi af en bronzestatue af den athenske politiske leder Pericles, som var den store athenske politiske leder i midten af ​​det 5. århundrede fvt. Dette var perioden med athensk overherredømme. Det var under Perikles, at Athen deltog i en stor bygningskampagne, der omfattede de store bygninger på Akropolis. We will discuss later in the semester the Parthenon, the centerpiece of this campaign. Pericles served in the position of strategos or military commander. The Athenians attempted to avoid the concentration of power in the hands of a single ruler or tyrant by forbidding leaders of higher offices to succeed themselves. It was only the military commanders that could hold office multiple times. Pericles was able to manipulate his position as strategos into becoming the de facto ruler of Athens.

The original statue of Pericles was probably done shortly after Pericles' death in 429 BCE and was created by the sculptor Kresilas. The inscription which reads "Pericles, son of Xanthippos, the Athenian" leaves little question of the identification. From our cultural perspective we would expect the portrait to have been individualized, but as demonstrated by the following examples, the strategos portrait was a defined type in Greek art:

Strategos portrait, c. 500-470 BCE

Strategos portrait, c. 430-400 BCE.

The differences between these "portraits" say less about the differences between the different individuals represented than they reflect the different stages in the development of Greek art. The one from c. 500-470 BCE still has strong traces of the Archaic style of the 6th and early 5th centuries, while the one from c. 430-400 BCE has the characteristics of the High Classical style of the middle of the 5th century. Characteristics of the strategos type include the helmet of a military commander and the beard. The latter says more about the venerable nature of the strategos. In considering the Pericles "portrait" we need to seriously qualify our assumptions about a portrait. As a truism of Greek culture, the Greeks did not emphasize what distinguishes one individual from another, but how the individual conformed to the common type. In other words they saw the particular from the perspective of the archetypal. So it is less Pericles' distinctness and more of how he conforms to the ideal or expectations of what a strategos should be. The Roman writer Pliny in describing the Kresilas "portrait" characterized it as "the Olympian Pericles," or in other words how Pericles reflects the Greek conception of their gods.

Protagoras of Abdera (c. 480-410 BCE), a Sophist philosopher, coined the famous dictum that "man is the measure of all things." A common theme of Sophist philosophy of the 5th century BCE was that man's subjective experience is the foundation of human thought including conceptions about the nature of existence, of ethics, and of knowledge. Greek classical culture was essentially anthropocentric or centered on man in marked contrast to theocentric cultures. In Classical art the distinction between the God and mortal man is blurred. This can be exemplified by an examination of the sculpture in the pediment over the western entrance of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia

Reconstruction of the West Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. In the center is the God Apollo and is flanked by the legendary conflict between the Lapiths and Centaurs.

Central groups from the West Pediment with Apollo in the center.

The pediment represents the legendary conflict between the Lapiths and Centaurs. The centaurs were a fabulous race of half human and half horse creatures from untamed regions of Thessaly. They were invited to attend the wedding of the king of their neighbors, the Lapiths. In the midst of the wedding the centaurs became drunk and disorderly and attempted to abduct Hippodamia, the bride of Peirthoös. In the ensuing battle the Lapiths overcome the centaurs. The centaurs as both being half human and being in a state of drunkenness are clearly set off from the Lapiths. The wild ferocity of the centaur is here contrasted to the restrained expression of the Lapith. Clearly the Lapiths are like the stern and aloof figure of Apollo who towers over the center of the composition. The popularity of this subject matter in Greek Archaic and Classical art can be explained by its theme of order or cosmos overcoming chaos and a series of related binaries: reason and self-control overcoming immoderate passion, culture overcoming nature, civilization overcoming barbarism, human techné (technology) harnessing wild, animal forces of nature, and Greek defeating non-Greek. This contrast between the Greek and the non-Greek is further developed in the webpage entitled The Greek and the Other.

The standing nude male figure dominates Greek art of the Classical figure. One of the most famous of these statues was the Doryphoros by Polykleitos. The statue is no longer extant but it is well known through ancient descriptions along with later Roman copies.

The dominant subject matter in Greek free-standing sculpture of the Archaic (extending from the end of the seventh century BCE to the early fifth century BCE) and Classical periods was the nude male. While not made for explicit political purposes, these statue do still convey the cultural and political ideal for this culture. These are a clear testament to the anthropocentric nature of Greek culture. There is little to distinguish the representations between divine and mortal inthese statues. Scholars have long debated about the identity of the Archaic kouros figures, or standing nude male figures. Early scholars saw these figures as images of the god Apollo, while subsequent archaeological discoveries have revealed names associated with some of these statues. For example, the base of a kouros from the third quarter of the sixth century BCE from Anavysos bears an inscription that identifies the figure as Kroisos.

Like we saw in our discussion of the Pericles portrait above, we need to qualify our assumption that this is a representation of the individual likeness of Kroisos. Rather than focusing on what distinguishes Kroisos from other males, the work displays how is like or typical of the ideal male, whether mortal or immortal.

A major work from the middle of the fifth century BCE or the Classical period is the so-called Doryphoros by Polykleitos. Like the kouroi figures this statue is not a representation of a particular individual but again a representation of an ideal figure. Ancient references and modern studies have emphasized how Polykleitos intended this figure as a demonstration of his conception of kallos or the beautiful. He saw in the proportions of this figure a reflection or "measure" of the cosmos. Review the webpage I have dedicated to the Doryphoros.

Portraits of Alexander the Great : The later history of Greece is dominated by the rise of the kingdom of Macedon and the conquests of Alexander the Great. Under Alexander's father, Philip II, Macedon was able to subdue the other Greek city-states. After Philip's assassination in 336, Alexander was able to carry out a remarkable series of military conquests. By the time of Alexander's death in 323 BCE, Macedonian hegemony extended over Egypt, the Persian Empire, and extended to India. While the Empire was quickly politically fragmented with its subdivision among the followers of Alexander, the lands conquered by Alexander were culturally unified by the spread of Greek or Hellenic culture. including its religion, philosophy, literature, art, and architecture. This cultural unity would be a critical key to the later success of the Romans in establishing their Empire.

Alexander, undoubtedly influenced by the ruler portraits of the Ancient Near East and Egypt, was aware of the political importance of his image both in life and in his portraits. In life he fashioned himself on Achilles the epic hero of Homer's Iliad. At the same time he was aware of the effective role pictorial representations of himself could play in establishing his poltical rule over the domains he conquered. Alexander appointed Lysippos as his court sculptor. Only Lysippos was allowed to sculpt Alexander's image. Ancient sources describe a full length, heroically nude bronze portrait of Alexander holding a lance and looking to the heavens. Plutarch calls attention to the "leonine" or lion-like mane of Alexander's hair and his "melting glance." Plutarch records an inscription on the base which proclaimed, "I [Alexander] place the earth under my sway you, O Zeus, keep Olympus."Thus the order of Zeus over Olympus is paralleled to the order of Alexander over his Empire.

The original bronze made by Lysippos has been lost, but there are still extant a relatively large number of portraits of Alexander that are undoubtedly based on the Lysippos original:

Head of Alexander the Great, from Pella, c. 200-150 BCE.

Head of Alexander the Great from Pergamon, c. 200 BCE.

The three Alexander portraits illustrated above share the dramatic locks of hair, turning neck, and the animated gaze directed to the heavens described by Plutarch as a characteristic of the Lysippos original. All of the portraits of Alexander show him as beardless. This was a deliberate choice on the part of Alexander, and marked a break in the custom of political leaders wearing beards. We have already seen how in the strategos portrait of Pericles the beard was an integral part of the formula. Alexander's own father was consistently shown with a beard. The appearance of the beard was intended to convey the wisdom and venerable nature of the ruler. In contrast to that Alexander adopted the more youthful, beardless type. In so doing, Alexander was likening himself to the heroes of Greek epics like Achilles or the youthful god Apollo. The choice of wearing a beard or not will be an important factor in later ruler images. For example, it was deliberate on the part of the Emperor Augustus of Rome to have his portraits convention to be youthful and beardless while the later philosopher Emperor Marcus Aurelius will be represented with a beard to conform to the philosopher type. It is not by chance that the early period of Christian art shows competing conventions for representing Christ. In some cases you see him as being a beardless Apollo type as in the middle of the 4th century sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, while in other cases, like the mosaic from Santa Pudenziana from the end of the 4th century, he is represented with a beard that makes him like Zeus or Jupiter.

Christ as the Law Giver (traditio legis) with Sts. Peter and Paul from the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, c. 359.

Apse Mosaic of Christ in Majesty with Apostles from the church of Santa Pudenziana in Rome

In the portrait of Pericles discussed above, the emphasis was primarily on how Pericles conformed to the role of strategos rather than his individual identity or personality, but here in the portraits of Alexander, there is more of an emphasis on the heroic personality. The effect of the presence of Alexander's personality in these portraits is suggested by an anecdote included in Plutarch's biography of Alexander. Cassander, one time rival and successor as king of Macedon of Alexander, some years after the death of Alexander encountered the latter's portrait in a sanctuary in Delphi. At the sight of the statue,Cassander was struck "with a shuddering and trembling of the body from which he barely recovered, and caused a dizziness which blurred his vision." The relationship between Alexander and Lysippos as court sculptor establishes an alliance between politics and art that will be extremely influential in later Ancient and European history. Images of the king spread throughout his territory give physical testimony to his hegemony and become forceful expressions of his personality. The artist thus becomes an image maker like a modern PR-man attempting to fashion a public identity for a modern politician.

A floor mosaic found in the remains of a Roman house in Pompeii is likely a copy of a panel painting peainted by Philoxenos of Eretria about 310 BCE. The mosaic represents the pivotal moment in the Battle of Issus when the Persian king Darius retreats from the relentless attack of the Greeks led by Alexander on horseback. The narrative focuses on the contrast between the heroic Alexander personally leading the attack and the fearful Darius. Alexander was known to have had a horse named Bucephalus who was so wild only Alexander could tame and ride him. In a later context, we will relate this image to the importance of the horse in western culture with special emphasis on the equestrian figure.

To find images of authority and power in the early stages of Greek art we do not look at ruler images like we can see in Egyptian and ancient Near Eastern cultures but rather we look at representations of the Gods and of the type of the male figure.


Reality

Only a year before Magritte’s turn to words and objects and eventually affinities, Martin Heidegger published Being and Time (1927). The book was an audacious attempt to tackle what philosophy had been avoiding for hundreds of years: existence itself.

At the heart of our understanding of things, Heidegger held, is the way care (the German word Heidegger uses is “Sorge” which is somewhere between care and the verb concern) structures our interaction with the world and its objects: the mediation of things in experience.

Our experience of reality is dispersed into different activities where we have care or concern for objects. So long as there isn’t a hitch in these activities, objects around us and in our use are transparent to our consciousness.

Being is divided into “ready-to-hand” (“Zuhandenheit”) and being that is “present-to-hand” (“Vorhandenheit”). By making this distinction, Heidegger drew attention to the way reality was ensconced in our consciousness until it made itself rudely apparent.

The hammer, for example, is transparent to the carpenter’s consciousness as he hammers away. It is “ready-to-hand”. His care towards the task makes the objects he uses as tools transparent because they are taken for granted and part of the everyday flow of the carpenter’s experience.

It’s only when the hammer breaks that its “be-ing” becomes apparent to the carpenter, it becomes “present-to-hand” an object of study in itself.

To give a more basic interpretation of the care-structure of experience, there is an “as” to how any object presents itself to us in any moment depending on how that object fits into our care. More recently, philosopher Graham Harman has generalised Heidegger’s ideas around reality and its visibility and invisibility to consciousness in using tools.

In Harman’s interpretation, care gives an object an “as-ness” of its being, but not its being in its entirety. For example, a bowler hat could be a bowler hat som a head covering, a bowler hat som an object of aesthetic beauty, a bowler hat som a signifier of the inter-war conservatism or of the banking industry, a bowler hat som a vessel for liquid, and so on.

Everything exists as something at any one moment, but never as what it entirely is.

This “as-ness” is structural because there is a simultaneous unveiling and veiling of the object’s many guises and purposes as it is apprehended by our care for it.

Objects, be they anything from rainbows and soundwaves to trees and bowler hats, are best negatively defined in this way: things that, via the “as-structure”, withdraw from all theoretical and practical contact in the whole, things with always and forever more to them than can be expounded upon or felt by anything else.

But: by the necessity of the “as-structure” we know these objects are. As Graham Harman explains, “Being is what withdraws from all access, while the ‘as’ is what has emerged into access.”

What Harman is describing is the mysterious being before we mediate it into purpose (which he describes as “access”).

In the case of Sartre’s character Roquentin, being suddenly revealed itself. The seat was only accessible som something (as a seat), when Roquentin has his epiphany, the seat could have been anything at all.

Like the carpenter’s broken hammer or Roquentin’s seat on the trolley car, Magritte disrupts the as-structure of objects by “breaking” the laws of nature with paradoxes and non-sequiturs. These laws are responsible for causation (cause and effect) — the cosmic glue that holds our existence together.

In doing so the painter obliquely articulates the being behind the som (it’s impossible to do so directly). He takes Heidegger’s care-structure to an absurd parody and, in doing so, the objects he depicts make themselves known to us in their most sensuous, non-mediated, being.


Géricault’s Raft

Théodore Géricault, a promising young painter at the time, decided that the incident was going to be the subject of his most ambitious painting. He had read the testimony of two of the survivors and was as outraged by the tale of callousness and incompetence as much of French society was at the time.

He had for the most part taught himself in the Louvre, where he copied the works of renaissance and baroque masters, and the stables of Versailles, where he studied the anatomy of horses. This mostly self-led education enabled Géricault to make a name for himself as a painter of equestrian scenes.

Géricault had a minor reputation in 1818 when he began the work. He had exhibited successfully at the Paris Salon in 1812 but less successfully in 1814. The disappointment he had experienced as an exhibitor at the 1814 Salon led him to briefly join the army.

The ‘Paris Salon’ was the official exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, open to artists from all over the world. In other words, the Paris Salon was 19th century art’s equivalent to what the Fifa World Cup is to soccer now.

It was the most prestigious regular showcase of contemporary art at the time, a ticketed event that the well-heeled public flocked to and one that generated a huge amount of debate on matters from history and taste to politics and censorship.

In the minds of many artists, a critical triumph at the Salon was a triumph in the eyes of the entire art world.

Upon his return to painting, Géricault made painstaking plans to immortalise the shipwreck in vivid detail for the 1819 Salon. He interviewed survivors, visited morgues to make studies and took body parts back to his apartment - including a severed head from a lunatic asylum, of which he made several famous studies in preparation for his painting.

A scale model of the raft was constructed in Géricault’s studio with the help of three survivors, one of whom was a carpenter on the ship. The moment the artist chose to depict was the moment that the Argus, another ship in the flotilla to Senegal, suddenly appeared on the horizon. The last remaining survivors attempted to signal the ship but it passed by. Of this moment one of the survivors wrote:

‘From the delirium of joy, we fell into profound despondency and grief.’

As it happens, the Argus did return and eventually rescued the last remaining survivors.

The Painting was finished in 1819, when Géricault was only 27 years old and exhibited at the Paris Salon with the title “The Scene of a Shipwreck”. It was a generic title but nobody was left under the illusion that this was a scene of anything but the raft of the Medusa. The painting even depicts Henri Savigny, the ship’s surgeon (standing by the sail in the painting), who wrote the testimony that scandalised France. He had posed on the reconstructed raft in Géricault’s studio.

It was a monumental painting, enormous in fact. About 5 by 7 meters — 16 by 23 feet — with over-life sized figures in the foreground of the scene. It’s almost like standing in front of a cinema screen.

The stage, so to speak, was set. The painting gained the immediate notoriety that the painter had been hoping for. It was seen as an indictment of a corrupt regime and caused an enormous stir at the often crowded salon. Many were fiercely critical of the painting gratuitous morbidity and modern style, but republicans were supportive. The historian Jules Michelet said of the painting: “our whole society is aboard the raft of Medusa.”


Portrait of a Sophist - History

The Worship of Venus, is an oil on canvas painting which is now preserved and housed in the world renowned Spanish national art museum, Museo del Prado in Madrid. Titian was commissioned to do a series of paintings in 1516, by the Duke of Ferrara, which took him over a decade to complete. The paintings, destined for the Alabaster Chamber, were a series of Dionysian themes, one of which was The Worship of Venus.

Description and Inspiration

This richly colorful piece of artwork incorporates the subjects of love, fertility, regeneration in nature, and comic gesture, while presented with a great formal elegance. The Worship of Venus was Titian’s first painting in his commissioned series, and he based the content on ancient Greek mythology, and the writings of Philostratus, a Greek sophist of the Roman imperial period in the 3rd century AD.

The painting aesthetically describes a Roman rite of worship honoring Venus, the Roman goddess of love, beauty, sexuality, fertility, prosperity, and victory. On this day of worship, women would make offerings to the goddess Venus in order to cleanse themselves. In the painting you see two nymphs, or female nature spirits who were linked to Venus, standing to the right with a statue of Venus by their side.

Cupids were considered children of the nymphs, and they are plentiful in the painting. The cupids are found playing and expressing love in a meadow between the statue of Venus and a row of apple trees. Philostratus described cupids gathering apples in baskets with quivers of gold which they hung on the apple trees. This fresh and enchanting description is captured in The Worship of Venus with the playful and comic gestures of the small children, or cupids depicted.

Legacy

The compelling interpretation onto canvas, of pagan myth, portrays the writings of Philostratus, and is so convincing, that we see Greek mythology through Titian’s paintings even today. Titian’s revolutionary and brave styles, his unmatched use of color, and his gradually evolving artistic manner made him the most celebrated painter of the ancient world. The Worship of Venus is not only pleasing to the eye, but also describes through art a past time which will be preserved forever in our minds.


7 Facts About Socrates, the Enigmatic Greek Street Philosopher

One of the giants of Western philosophy, Socrates (470 to 399 B.C.E.) is also one of history's most enigmatic figures. He left behind no published writings, so all we have are secondhand accounts written by his students and contemporaries, most famously the dialogues of Plato.

While scholars agree that Socrates changed philosophy forever, they argue furiously over who he was and what he really believed. We spoke with Debra Nails, professor emerita of philosophy at Michigan State University, to learn how the Socratic method turned education on its head, and why Socrates' infamous trial and execution remains the "founding myth" of academic philosophy. Here are some facts to help you get to know Socrates.

1. Socrates Stuck Out

By all accounts, Socrates cut a strange figure in Athens. A brilliant intellect, he chose not to pursue money, power or fame, but to live in abject poverty as a troublemaking street philosopher. And if you believe the descriptions of his appearance by his student Plato and the comic playwright Aristophanes, Socrates was one ugly dude.

First, Socrates was dirty and disheveled, wandering the streets in his unwashed bedclothes, his hair long and greasy. Nails says that Socrates' unattractive appearance was probably as offensive to his critics as his confrontational questioning style.

"The Greeks were devoted to beauty, and beauty meant proportion in their architecture and statues," says Nails. "And then there's Socrates with the mouth of a frog or maybe a donkey, and these eyes that bulge and don't track. He didn't fit the Greek ideal and I'm sure that bothered them."

Despite his looks, Socrates was married to a much-younger woman, Xanthippe, who was often portrayed as nagging and shrewish. But since he spent all his time philosophizing rather than earning a living, there was perhaps much to complain about. The couple had two sons together.

2. He Wasn't a 'Teacher'

Even though Plato is sometimes referred to as his "star pupil," Socrates flatly rejected the title of "teacher," or at least in the way that the Greeks understood the role of a teacher.

"During Socrates' time, teaching meant transmitting information and the receiver receiving it," says Nails. "When he says he's not a teacher, Socrates is saying that he doesn't have information to transmit and that's why he's asking questions. The important thing is for each person to be involved in the intellectual labor required to come to conclusions."

Socrates reserved some of his most cutting remarks for the sophists, paid philosophers who imparted their wisdom and knowledge to the rich and powerful of Athens.

3. The Socratic Method Was Genius at Work

Instead of writing dry philosophical treatises or lecturing students on the nature of knowledge, Socrates preferred a far more entertaining way of getting to the bottom of thorny questions. He'd hang around all day in the Agora, the bustling outdoor marketplace of Athens, and ask people questions.

No one was immune from Socrates' playful interrogations — young, old, male, female, politician or prostitute — and crowds of young Athenians would gather to watch Socrates use his stinging wit and unbreakable logic to force his victims into intellectual corners. The more pompous and pretentious the victim, the better.

It's known today as the Socratic method, but Nails says that Socrates wouldn't have recognized what passes for the Socratic method in places like law schools, where professors pepper students with questions until they arrive at a predetermined answer.

Socrates never claimed that he had the answer to whatever question was being posed — from the nature of knowledge to the meaning of life. For him, the Socratic method was an exercise in breaking down false assumptions and exposing ignorance so that the individual being questioned — not Socrates — could arrive at something true.

"The real Socratic method requires individuals to dig down to the reason why they're saying what they're saying," says Nails. "And when they uncover those reasons, they often find there are inconsistencies they need to think through."

While some people who got roped into Socratic shakedowns walked away furious, others were transformed. After a young poet named Aristocles witnessed Socrates' marketplace spectacle, he went home and burned all his plays and poems. That kid would become the philosopher known as Plato.

4. We Don't Know Much About the 'Real' Socrates

The historical Socrates, like the historical Jesus, is impossible to know. Neither men wrote the texts for which they're best known, but figure as main characters in the writings of others. In the case of Socrates, these second-hand sources aren't in agreement over how Socrates lived and what kind of philosophy he employed to understand the world around him.

The impossibility of knowing the real Socrates is called the "Socratic problem" and it complicates any easy reading of the three main historical sources on Socrates. The playwright Aristophanes, for example, features a character called Socrates in his comedy "Clouds," but the character is more of a caricature of all intellectuals — disheveled, impious and intent on warping the minds of the youth — than an unbiased portrait of the man.

Aristophanes and Socrates were contemporaries, but the men didn't see eye to eye. Aristophanes blamed the sophists and natural philosophers for poisoning the minds of Athenian youth, and his caricature of Socrates in "Clouds" became so well-known that it hounded the philosopher his entire life. By the time of his trial, Socrates blamed Aristophanes' plays for poisoning the jurors' minds against him.

A second source is Xenophon, a soldier-historian who, like Plato, was 45 years younger than Socrates. Xenophon has a solid reputation as a reliable historian of Athens, but he was a practical man with practical concerns. So, his quotations of Socrates have to do with mundane topics like estate management and moneymaking and may reflect Xenophon's views more than those of Socrates himself.

Plato's dialogues are the richest and best-known sources on Socrates, because Socrates is the main character in nearly all of the texts. Plato wrote the dialogues like plays, dramatizations of encounters that Socrates may or may not have had with real Athenians, some known to history. In the dialogues, the character of Socrates is an ingenious and often humorous interrogator, quick to confess his own ignorance while coaxing and teasing his fellow conversants toward philosophical revelations about morality and nature.

But are the dialogues historically accurate? Plato was 25 when Socrates was tried and executed. While Plato was undoubtedly inspired by Socrates, it's impossible to untangle which philosophies came from Socrates and which were Plato's alone. Further complicating the Socratic Problem is that ancient writers like Plato didn't distinguish between biography, drama, history and fiction.

5. Socrates is Best-Known as a Moral Philosopher

It's not easy to boil down Socrates' philosophies to a single statement, but if there's a key tenet that shows up again and again in the dialogues, it's this: it's never right to do wrong.

"Do no wrong, not even in return for an injury done to you," explains Nails. "Not even under threat of death, or to save your family. It is never right to do wrong. That's huge as a moral principle."

The best-known quote from Socrates comes during his trial, when he addresses supporters who ask him why he doesn't just go into exile and keep quiet in order to save his life. "The unexamined life," Socrates replies, "is not worth living."

The Socratic method was part of a system of self-examination that Socrates believed lead to virtue. And the only way to improve was to question everything until you arrived at greater wisdom and therefore greater virtue.

6. Socrates Heeded an Internal 'Voice'

Socrates was a fierce defender of reason and rationality, but he didn't fully dismiss the supernatural. For one thing, Socrates believed he was called by the oracle of Apollo at Delphi to safeguard the souls of all Athenians, making his confrontational conversations in the Agora part of his divine work.

But Socrates also believed he heard a daimonion or internal voice that stopped him from doing certain things. It was similar to a conscience, but it wasn't limited to chiming in on moral choices.

"You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me," says Socrates in Plato's "Apology." "This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything. & quot

Was Socrates schizophrenic? Nails doesn't think so. She points to scholars who say that there was nothing psychological or supernatural going on, but that Socrates would sometimes become intensely focused on a particular topic and slip into his own mind.

"That's when he would stand for hours and not move," says Nails. "That's when he would stop suddenly on the street and not continue along with his friends."

Whether supernatural or not, one of the reasons Socrates cites for going along with the trial in Athens is that his internal voice didn't tell him not to go. So he knew that the outcome, good or bad, would be for his ultimate benefit.

7. Socrates Died as He Lived, Uncompromising

The mood is Athens was bleak after suffering defeat by Sparta in the Peloponnesian Wars, and Athenians were looking for something or someone to blame. Some thought that the gods were angry at Athens for the impiety of its philosophers and sophists. And so, 70-year-old Socrates, a well-known philosopher with a passionate young following, was charged with two counts: irreverence toward the Athenian gods, and corruption of Athenian youth. (It didn't help that two of his students had briefly overthrown the city's government.)

As mentioned earlier, Socrates could have avoided the trial altogether by leaving Athens and going into exile. But that wasn't his style, says Nails. Instead, Socrates practiced "civil disobedience" in its original meaning.

"This is not resistance. This is not revolution. This is civil disobedience," says Nails. "I do what I believe I must do and if there are consequences, I must accept them."

Socrates said as much in the "Apology," written as a record of his final defense during the trial and sentencing:

Socrates was found guilty and sentenced to die by drinking a poisonous concoction containing hemlock, the Athenian method of execution. Before leaving, he gave final counsel to his supporters with a hint of his trademark irony.

"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live. Which is better, God only knows."

Socrates had some high-profile fans including Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and Benjamin Franklin, whose personal recipe for humility was "Imitate Jesus and Socrates."


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