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

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

Hardback

By (author) Peter J. Ahrensdorf

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Hardback | 204 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 229mm x 23mm | 408g
  • Publication date: 6 April 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521515866
  • ISBN 13: 9780521515863
  • Edition: 1

Product description

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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Author information

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.

Review quote

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

Table of contents

1. Oedipus the tyrant and the limits of political rationalism; 2. Blind faith and enlightened statesmanship in Oedipus at Colonus; 3. The pious heroism of Antigone.