Between Tragedy and Enlightenment: Greek Tragedy, Classical Political Theory and Critical Theory

Dissertation, University of California, San Diego (1989)

This study joins classical texts to contemporary context. Against the background of the recent exchange between Juergen Habermas and Michel Foucault, it explores the themes of political power, theoretical knowledge and civic community through detailed interpretations of Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannos and Plato's Apology of Socrates and Republic. This "untimely" juxtaposition of classical to contemporary theory aims to initiate a dialogue between the two that would enrich the latter while disclosing neglected aspects of the former. Such a dialogic encounter imitates the way the playwrights and philosophers used the past to illuminate their own present. This is to say that the classical past can stand to our present as the plays and dialogues stood to the ancient city. Just as Greek tragedy and political theory provided the polis with a critical view of itself, so too can the classical past provide us with a critical view of ourselves. Studying how Greek tragedy and political theory "use" the past can teach us how to "use" Greek tragedy and political theory. Such is the explicit argument and implicit aim of the study
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