Greek Tragedy and Political Philosophy

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 an 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. 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.

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  • Hardback | 204 pages
  • 154.94 x 228.6 x 22.86mm | 408.23g
  • CambridgeUnited Kingdom
  • English
  • 0521515866
  • 9780521515863

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'... written with intellectual clarity and that the author's views of Greek tragedy and philosophical literature are clearly worth becoming antiquated with.' Arctos

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About Peter J. Ahrensdorf

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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