Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy

Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy : Theoria in its Cultural Context

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In fourth-century Greece (BCE), the debate over the nature of philosophy generated a novel claim: that the highest form of wisdom is theoria, the rational 'vision' of metaphysical truths (the 'spectator theory of knowledge'). This 2004 book offers an original analysis of the construction of 'theoretical' philosophy in fourth-century Greece. In the effort to conceptualise and legitimise theoretical philosophy, the philosophers turned to a venerable cultural practice: theoria (state pilgrimage). In this practice, an individual journeyed abroad as an official witness of sacralized spectacles. This book examines the philosophic appropriation and transformation of theoria, and analyses the competing conceptions of theoretical wisdom in fourth-century philosophy. By tracing the link between traditional and philosophic theoria, this book locates the creation of theoretical philosophy in its historical context, analysing theoria as a cultural and an intellectual practice. It develops a new, interdisciplinary approach, drawing on philosophy, history and literary studies.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 322 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 22mm | 640g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0521838258
  • 9780521838252
  • 1,992,150

Table of contents

1. Theoria as a cultural practice; 2. Spectacles of truth: inventing philosophic theoria; 3. The fable of philosophy in Plato's Republic; 4. Theorizing the beautiful: from Plato to Philip of Opus; 5. 'Useless' knowledge: Aristotle's rethinking of theoria; Epilogue 'Broken knowledge'? theoria and wonder.
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Review quote

Review of the hardback: 'Nightingale ably demonstrates the importance of theoria at a crucial stage in Western philosophy whose influence is still felt today, and she includes an interesting coda on the implications of theoria for modern environmental philosophy. Nightingale handles often complex and subtle material with clarity and insight; the writing is at all times lucid, jargon-free and her general argument has much to recommend it.' Journal of Hellenic Studies
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About Andrea Wilson Nightingale

Andrea Wilson Nightingale is an Associate Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. She is the author of Genres in Dialogue: Plato and the Construct of Philosophy (HB 052148264X; PB 0521 774330), and has written numerous essays on Greek philosophy and culture. She is a recent recipient of Guggenheim and ACLS Fellowships.
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Rating details

6 ratings
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4 17% (1)
3 17% (1)
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