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What Would Socrates Do?: Self-Examination,…

What Would Socrates Do?: Self-Examination, Civic Engagement, and the… (edition 2014)

by Joel Alden Schlosser

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Title:What Would Socrates Do?: Self-Examination, Civic Engagement, and the Politics of Philosophy
Authors:Joel Alden Schlosser
Info:Cambridge University Press (2014), Hardcover, 212 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Choice Review

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What Would Socrates Do?: Self-Examination, Civic Engagement, and the Politics of Philosophy by Joel Alden Schlosser

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In this thoughtful and careful study, Schlosser (Bryn Mawr) revisits the vitality of Socrates as a political thinker who encourages the “contesting” of democracy through “questioning and dialogue” (p. 5). Instead of accepting the well-established depictions of Socrates as harming Athenian political culture (I. F. Stone), or Socrates functioning in an essentially apolitical manner (Sheldon Wolin), the author provides an integrative defense of Socrates and the continued relevance of his thought to the study of politics. Socrates the ironic or esoteric thinker is rejected in favor of Socrates as an advocate of “strangeness,” correcting previous analyses by Gregory Vlastos and Leo Strauss. Socrates becomes an advocate of “enduring dissonance” for living the “examined life” (p. 176). Other important issues raised in the book include new insights regarding the nature of Socratic citizenship and the Socratic model of free speech. Socratic citizenship, as defined by the accountability of the citizenry, can provide a more prudent basis for a regime. With a deeper appreciation of the Socratic understanding of free speech, a more inclusive and collective representation of the citizenry can also be envisioned.
1 vote LeeCheek | May 21, 2015 |
Sous un titre séduisant, Joel Alden Schlosser se propose de revisiter la question traditionnelle du rapport entretenu par la philosophie socratique avec la démocratie athénienne et, plus généralement, le lien complexe noué dès leur origine par la philosophie et la démocratie. Pour mener à bien son entreprise, l’auteur récuse d’emblée deux approches traditionnelles énoncées sous la forme d’une opposition binaire. La première, incarnée par les travaux d’I. F. Stone et Sheldon Wolin, fait de Socrate le défenseur de l’oligarchie et le promoteur d’une philosophie arrimant la question politique à celle de la vérité, rompant en cela avec la conception grecque organisant la vie politique dans la cité ; la seconde, à la manière d’un Christopher Phillips, n’hésite pas au contraire à faire de Socrate le précurseur de ce que devrait être l’ethos démocratique contemporain. Schlosser entend au contraire considérer les principales dimensions de la philosophie socratique à la lumière des pratiques démocratiques athéniennes, entendues ici selon une conception élargie du politique, associant normes civiques, pratiques sociales et procédures institutionnelles.
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