Talk:The City as Educator – b
Ignorance and Formative Justice
in Classical Experience
Table of Contents
Athens as Educator
Reflections on Ignorance and Formative Justice in Classical Experience
Glossary – Tools and Resources
List of terms for elucidation
- contest. Jacob Burckhardt discussed the role of the agon in Greek culture at length. Here are some excerpts:
Thus after the decline of heroic kingship all higher life among the Greeks, active as well as spiritual, took on the character of the agon. Here excellence (arete) and natural superiority were displayed, and victory in the agon, that is noble victory without enmity, appears to have been the ancient expression of the peaceful victory of an individual. Many different aspects of life came to bear the marks of this form of competitiveness. We see it in the conversations and round-songs of the guests in the symposium, in philosophy and legal procedure, down to cock- and quail-fighting or the gargantuan feats of eating. In Aristophanes' Knights, the behaviour of the Paphlagonian and the sausage seller still retains the exact form of an agon, and the same is true in Frogs of the contest between Aeschylus and Euripides in Hades, with its ceremonial preliminaries. . . .
While the agon soon gained ground and indeed became the paramount feature of life, gymnastics were both an alternative and, as we have seen, an offshoot of the agon. The one is unthinkable without the other, although the gymnastic art too was credited to mythical inventors and founders; in any case, without the agon, gymnastics could never have become such a distinctive feature of the Hellenes' life. Competitive games were instituted everywhere, even in the smallest communities; the full development of the individual depended on his constantly measuring himself against others in exercises devoid of any direct practical use.
- honor, sense of shame, modesty, kindness, discretion To be developed.
- "The measure of population which a polis should contain is given in the word autarkeia, 'what is sufficient to itself'. To our understanding this is a very obscure expression, but it was easily grasped by the Greeks. An area of land capable of yielding the essential supplies, commerce and industry to provide for all other needs in moderation, and a hoplite army at least as strong as that of the nearest, usually hostile, polis - these were the elements of 'sufficiency'. Aristotle is as clear as could be wished on this; an overpopulated polis cannot really go on living according to the laws (Politics 7-4). It is the number of those who are fully citizens that makes a city great, not a preponderance of artisans with a small number of hoplites. Beauty consists, here as elsewhere, in moderation and proportion."
- Virtue, excellence. To be developed.
- "Dike implied justice according to the established rules. For Greeks, rules made to govern human societies were made by men (and regularly attributed to famous past law-makers, not handed down to men by the gods (contrast God's giving of the Law to Moses)."
- secure happiness not dependent on fate or fortune. In the Politics (7:1:1323:24ff) Aristotle distinguishes eudaimonia from mere good fortune: "And herein of necessity lies the difference between good fortune and happiness; for external goods come of themselves, and chance is the author of them, but no one is just or temperate by or through chance." The problem of ignorance is evident in the drive in classical ethics to find a conception of happiness that was impervious to the vicissitudes of fortune. Fortune was what one could not know or count on because it depended on the unknown future. What might one control in the present that would provide a happiness that would stand regardless of what specifics eventuated as the future unfolded into the present. To be developed.
- good fortune. To be developed.
- From The World of Athens, pp. 140-1: One experience which Athenians were particularly unlikely to ignore was being humiliated physically in public, i.e. suffering hubris. Often translated 'pride', its basic meaning for a Greek was 'aggression', 'violence'; and it came to mean an unprovoked assault on someone's person or status, with the express intention of public humiliation. Demosthenes (Against Meidias 21.180) claims that the essence of hubris was 'treating free men as slaves', and one of the most important distinctions Athenians drew between themselves and slaves was that slaves could be physically punished. Here the prosecutor in a court case, having outlined his previous meetings with a gang of hooligans (whose leader was Konon), relates the incident which led to the trial:
As we got to close quarters one of them, I don't know which, fell on my friend Phanostratos and pinioned him, while the defendant Konan and his son fell on me, stripped me, tripped me up, pushed me into the mud and finally jumped on me and beat me so severely that my lip was split and my eyes closed, and when they left me I could neither stand nor speak. As I lay there I heard a lot of bad language from them, a great deal of it being foul abuse of the kind I should hesitate to repeat to you. But there is one thing I must tell you to show that this was assault (hubris) and prove the whole thing was his doing. He began to crow like a victorious cock, and the rest of the gang told him to flap his arms against his sides like wings. (Demosthenes, Against Konon 54. 7ff.)Being beaten up was bad enough, but what clearly tipped the balance was Konan's imitation of a triumphant cock over a fallen enemy. Here was an unprovoked assault, accompanied by intentional public degradation, for all to see. The victim had brought a case for assault and battery (aikeia), but one of the ways in which he tries to get the court to sympathise and find in his favour is by making it clear that he could have brought a case for hubris, which carried a far stiffer penalty.
- ". . . The unity of nobility, wealth and excellence as the distinguishing mark of the Greeks, heralded by Pondar." Jacob Burckhardt has interesting remarks in discussing fifth century Athens about the degradation of the ideal of kalokagathia in a more democratic ethos.
At the same period, kalokagathia, formerly an idea simply based on the real aristocratic and agonal way of life, fell into the hands of the philosophers; while ostensibly preserving its old meaning they were really subjecting it to a complete purge in the name of ethics. Where kalokagathia had described a kind of existence, its place was now taken by a means of acting on others, in fact of'improving people', and this became the yardstick applied to human beings and institutions; but Socrates, and those who spoke in his way, were using it to express a new ideal, and leaving reality to get along as well as it could. It was no longer the noble free individual they had in mind, but the citizen in general, and soon mankind as a whole.To be further developed.
- the mean. To be developed.
- Retribution. See "Nemesis" Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World. Ed. John Roberts. Oxford University Press, 2007. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. http://www.oxfordreference.com.arugula.cc.columbia.edu:2048/views/ENTRY.html?entry=t180.e1494
- "There was also another sense and another form in which the polis regarded itself as an ideal whole, and that was in its nomos, a word used to embrace the laws and with them the constitution. Nomos is the higher objective power, supreme over all individual existence or will, not satisfied merely to protect the citizen in return for taxes and military service, as in modern times, but aspiring to be the very soul of the whole polis. Law and the constitution are hymned in the most sublime phrases as the invention and gift of the gods, as the city's personality, as the guardians and preservers of all virtue. . . . Above all, nomos must not pander to the transitory interests and caprices of the individual or of those who happen to be in the majority. It was strongly felt, at least in theory, that old laws should be retained; indeed, customs and manners which were even older than laws, and had perhaps been in force from the very foundation of a city, were recognized as having a vigour of which the laws were only the outward expression:8 And even inadequate laws, as long as they were strictly observed, seemed a better guarantee of stability than change would be.49 Alcibiades said as much in the conclusion of his great speech in favour of the expedition to Sicily.sO In certain states boys had to learn the laws by heart, set to a tune or cadence, not just to fix them in the memory but to ensure that they became unalterable.sl (The Greek word nomos has the double meaning oflaw and of melody.)"
- noble flourishing. "If a man flourishes and has many possessions in his house, but is without noble ambition, I would not call him olbos but only a comfortable guardian of treasures" (Euripides, Antiope, fragment 198 Nauk). Cf. Pindar's Pythian Ode.
- intelligence To be developed.
- Athenians could sometimes write as if the only virtues worth displaying were competitive ones. Here Demosthenes gives advice to a young boy:
Even if you are superior to the ordinary run of men, do not give up the effort to excel everyone else; let it be your ambition to be first in everything. To aim at this target brings more credit than respectable mediocrity. (Demosthcnes. On Love 61.52)If everyone had followed this advice, then the contest system we have described would clearly offer disastrously self-destructive capacities- of the sort that both Homeric epic and tragedy (8.54) explored. In fact, this competitive capacity was channelled, as we have already seen, into less harmful outlets, such as competitive events at festivals, or the contest of the law-courts. The institution of democracy could itself be effective in diminishing and deflating one man's ambitions where they were perceived to run contrary to people's interests, both by institutional means such as ostracism and the choice of officials by lot, and more informally by people refusing to follow that man's lead. Certainly the various institutions of democracy enabled the envious to take adequate revenge on the envied without (necessarily) violent consequences.
- The destructive side of competitiveness was also kept in check by a range of non-competitive values which could be, and were, urged as virtues. These were used to encourage people to make decisions on grounds other than pure self-interest or blind defence of past practices. The most important of these was the call to be sophron (the noun form is sophrosune). It carried a wide range of meanings - 'prudent', 'discreet', 'sensible', 'chaste', 'law-abiding', 'modest', 'moderate', and 'disciplined'. At heart it implied restraint and acknowledgement of one's own limitations. Its force was perfectly captured by the two famous mottoes inscribed over the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi: meden agan 'nothing in excess' and gnothi seauton 'know yourself'. To know oneself was to know what one could and could not do; it was to be constrained by the fact that one was human and not divine (and should not therefore attempt to challenge the gods, cf. 3.23); it was to realise that as a human being one had certain capacities, but not others. To do nothing in excess was part of the same picture.
To be developed.
- Love of honor. To be developed.
- fortuna, fate. To be developed.
- For a helpful discussion of ergon and other terms such as arete, see A. W. H. Adkins, "The Connection between Aristotle's Ethics and Politics." Political Theory 12.1 (1984): 29-49.
- Plato, Laws, 630b stipulates that "the combination of justice, self-control and good judgment, reinforced by courage, is superior to courage alone." Shortly after, Plato exapanded and ranked his list of virtues:
These benefits fall into two classes, "human" and "divine." The former depend on the c latter, and if a city receives the one sort, it wins the other too-the greater include the lesser; if not, it goes without both. Health heads the list of the lesser benefits, followed by beauty; third comes strength, for racing and other physical exercises. Wealth is fourth-not "blind" wealth} but the clear-sighted kind whose companion is good judgment-and good judgment itself is the leading "divine" benefit; second comes the habitual selfcontrol of a soul that uses reason. If you combine these two with courage, d you get (thirdly) justice; courage itself lies in fourth place. All these take a natural precedence over the others, and the lawgiver must of course rank them in the same order. Then he must inform the citizens that the other instructions they receive have these benefits in view: the "human" benefits have the "divine" in view, and all these in turn look towards reason, which is supreme.
- Finkelberg, Margalit. "Virtue and Circumstances: On the City-State Concept of Aretê." The American Journal of Philology 123.1 (2002): 35-49.
- Finkelberg, Margalit. "Timê and Aretê in Homer." The Classical Quarterly 48.1 (1998): 14-28.
- Palmer, Michael. "Machiavellian Virtù and Thucydidean Aretê: Traditional Virtue and Political Wisdom in Thucydides." The Review of Politics 51.3 (1989): 365-85.
- ↑ Jacob Burckhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization (Oswyn Murray, ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998) pp. 165-6.
- ↑ Jacob Burckhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization (Oswyn Murray, ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998) p. 54
- ↑ Robin Osborne and the Joint Association of Classical Teachers. The World of Athens: An Introduction to Classical Athenian Culture. 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. p. 103
- ↑ Aristotle. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation (Jonathan Barnes, trans. Bollingen Series 71:2. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984) p. 2101.
- ↑ Robin Osborne and Joint Association of Classical Teachers. The World of Athens: An Introduction to Classical Athenian Culture. 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. pp.140-1.
- ↑ Jacob Burckhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization (Oswyn Murray, ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998) p. 160. Burckhardt associates it most strongly with the seventh and sixth centuries, the "Agonal Age" as he dedscribed it.
- ↑ Jacob Burckhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization (Oswyn Murray, ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998) p. 240
- ↑ Jacob Burckhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization (Oswyn Murray, ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998) pp. 59-60.
- ↑ Euripides, Antiope, fragment 198 Nauk, quoted by Jacob Burckhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization (Oswyn Murray, ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998) p. 82.
- ↑ Robin Osborne and Joint Association of Classical Teachers. The World of Athens: An Introduction to Classical Athenian Culture. 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. pp. 141-2.
- ↑ Plato. Complete Works. John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson, eds. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 1997, p. 1325.
- ↑ Laws, 631c-d. Complete Works, p. 1326.