Probabilities, Hypotheticals, and Counterfactuals in Ancient Greek Thought

Probabilities, Hypotheticals, and Counterfactuals in Ancient Greek Thought

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This volume explores the conceptual terrain defined by the Greek word eikos: the probable, likely, or reasonable. A term of art in Greek rhetoric, a defining feature of literary fiction, a seminal mode of historical, scientific, and philosophical inquiry, eikos was a way of thinking about the probable and improbable, the factual and counterfactual, the hypothetical and the real. These thirteen original and provocative essays examine the plausible arguments of courtroom speakers and the 'likely stories' of philosophers, verisimilitude in art and literature, the likelihood of resemblance in human reproduction, the limits of human knowledge and the possibilities of ethical and political agency. The first synthetic study of probabilistic thinking in ancient Greece, the volume illuminates a fascinating chapter in the history of Western more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 8 b/w illus.
  • 1139990594
  • 9781139990592

Table of contents

Introduction: eikos in ancient Greek thought Victoria Wohl; 1. Eikos arguments in Athenian forensic oratory Michael Gagarin; 2. Eikos in Plato's Phaedrus Jenny Bryan; 3. Aristotle on the value of 'probability', persuasiveness, and verisimilitude in rhetorical argument James Allen; 4. 'Likely stories' and the political art in Plato's Laws Ryan K. Balot; 5. Open and speak your mind: citizen agency, the likelihood of truth, and democratic knowledge in archaic and classical Greece Vincent Farenga; 6. Counterfactual history and Thucydides Robert Tordoff; 7. Homer's Achaean wall and the hypothetical past Karen Bassi; 8. Play of the improbable: Euripides' unlikely Helen Victoria Wohl; 9. Revision in Greek literary papyri Sean Gurd; 10. Likeness and likelihood in classical Greek art Verity Platt; 11. Why doesn't my baby look like me? Likeness and likelihood in ancient theories of reproduction Daryn Lehoux; 12. Galen on the chances of life Brooke Holmes; 13. Afterword Catherine more

About Victoria Wohl

Victoria Wohl is Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto. She works on the literature and culture of classical Athens. Her research spans a variety of genres, poetic and prosaic, and focuses on the social relations, political thought, and psychic life of democratic Athens. In particular she is interested in the intersection among these three fields and the role of literature in articulating and negotiating their interaction. Her previously published work includes Law's Cosmos: Juridical Discourse in Athenian Forensic Oratory (2010), Love Among the Ruins: The Erotics of Democracy in Classical Athens (2002) and Intimate Commerce: Exchange, Gender, and Subjectivity in Greek Tragedy (1998).show more

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