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Cambridge University Press

Greek Tragedy and Political Philosophy: Rationalism and Religion in Sophocles' Theban Plays

Greek Tragedy and Political Philosophy: Rationalism and Religion in Sophocles' Theban Plays

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In this book, Peter Ahrensdorf examines Sophocles' powerful analysis of a central question of political philosophy and a perennial question of political life: Should citizens and leaders govern political society by the light of unaided human reason or religious faith? Through a fresh examination of Sophocles' timeless masterpieces - Oedipus the Tyrant, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone - Ahrensdorf offers a sustained challenge to the prevailing view, championed by Nietzsche in his attack on Socratic rationalism, that Sophocles is an opponent of rationalism. Ahrensdorf argues that Sophocles is a genuinely philosophical thinker and a rationalist, albeit one who advocates a cautious political rationalism. Such rationalism constitutes a middle way between an immoderate political rationalism that dismisses religion - exemplified in Oedipus the Tyrant - and a piety that rejects reason - exemplified by Oedipus at Colonus. Ahrensdorf concludes with an incisive analysis of Nietzsche, Socrates, and Aristotle on tragedy and philosophy. He argues, against Nietzsche, that the rationalism of Socrates and Aristotle incorporates a profound awareness of the tragic dimension of human existence and therefore resembles in fundamental ways the somber and humane rationalism of Sophocles.

Author: Peter J. Ahrensdorf
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Published: 05/16/2011
Pages: 206
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 0.70lbs
Size: 8.90h x 5.90w x 0.60d
ISBN: 9781107699120

About the Author
Ahrensdorf, Peter J.: - Peter J. Ahrensdorf is Professor of Political Science and Adjunct Professor of Classics at Davidson College. He is the author of The Death of Socrates and The Life of Philosophy: An Interpretation of Phaedo and the co-author of Justice Among Nations: On the Moral Basis of Power and Peace.

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