Authority and Aristotle: The Politics of Deliberation in Ancient Athens

Dissertation, Duquesne University (1987)
John M. Carvalho
Villanova University
It is generally held that the ancient Greeks had neither the language nor the political experience from which to draw a scientific account of authority. Alternatively it is argued that the Greeks experienced a variation of what we call the prerogative to rule, and that the ancient account of authority can be located in what Aristotle and others have said about ruling and being ruled. I demonstrate that authority does figure in the political lives of the ancient Greeks, that Aristotle gives an account of it in his Politics, that Aristotle's account is markedly different from anything anyone has proposed in modern sciences of politics, and that it draws a picture which more adequately describes the way authority figures in our modern political experiences than the accounts that are typically given. I suggest that Michel Foucault's genealogical reading of the ancient Greek fashioning of ethical character as the subjection of desire to the various moderating regimens of political life makes the most of Aristotle's sciences of practical interaction. And I propose that by dropping the references to a purpose for politics external to the subjection of subjects to themselves, Foucault's philosophy describes the frame within which individuals now as then can fashion their lives as a whole work under the prevailing relations of authority/power
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