The Iroquois and the Athenians

The Iroquois and the Athenians : A Political Ontology

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Political communities are constituted through the representation of their own origin. The Iroquois and the Athenians is a philosophical exploration of the material traces left by that constitutional act in the political practices of the classical Iroquois and Athenians. Tempering Kant with Nietzsche this work offers an account of political action that locates the roots of justice in its radical impossibility, an aporia in place of a foundation. Instead of mythical references to a state of nature or an act of the founding fathers, the Iroquois and the Athenians recognized that political legitimacy can never be established, in principle, but must be continually enacted, repeated, a repetition that stimulates the withdrawal of natural foundations and holds open the site of any possible democracy. For philosophers and political theorists, this is a unique, hybrid deployment of Kant (the transcendental move) and Nietzsche (the use of history), offering a new view of the origins of Democracy. Scholars in Native American Studies will find much of value in its unprecedented use of traditional Iroquois political discourse and practice as a resource for mainstream political philosophy.
Finally, scholars of ancient Greece and Classics will appreciated its novel presentation of ancient Greek political discourse and political practice.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 306 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 27.94mm | 589.67g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739179225
  • 9780739179222

Review quote

"This is a work as grand in its scope, as bold in its ambitions, and as successful in its execution as Hardt and Negri's Empire or Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus. But in the end there is nothing quite like Brian Seitz and Thomas Thorp's The Iroquois and the Athenians. It is a unique experiment in comparative politology that reads the social, political, and economic organization of the Iroquois in North America against the backdrop of ancient Greek society. Along the way, all our assumptions about the nature of myth, mourning, law, language, kinship, war, political authority, rights, sexual difference, private property, and political foundations get called into question. Seitz and Thorp deploy all the resources of contemporary European Philosophy to create a distinctly 'American' politology." -- Michael Naas, DePaul University
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About Brian Seitz

Brian Seitz is professor of philosophy at Babson College. He is author of The Trace of Political Representation, and coeditor (with Ron Scapp) of Living with Class: Philosophy Reflections on Identity and Material Culture; Fashion Statements: On Style, Appearance, and Reality; Etiquette: Reflections on Contemporary Comportment; and Eating Culture. Thomas Thorp is professor of philosophy at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. He is founding director of Greater Yellowstone College.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgments Chapter 1: Prior Principles: The History of a Necessary Error Chapter 2: Going on the Road: Visiting the Iroquois Longhouse Chapter 3: Disinterring Democracy: The Constitution of the Constitution Chapter 4: Therapeutic Reveries: The Withdrawal of the Origin Notes Bibliography
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