In Corrupting Youth, Peter Euben explores the affinities between Socratic philosophy and Athenian democratic culture as a way to think about issues of politics and education, both ancient and modern. The book moves skillfully between antiquity and the present, from ancient to contemporary political theory, and from Athenian to American democracy. It draws together important recent work by political theorists with the views of classical scholars in ways that shine new light on significant theoretical debates such as those over discourse (...) ethics, rational choice, and political realism, and on political issues such as school vouchers and education reform. Euben not only argues for the generative capacity of classical texts and Athenian political thought, he demonstrates it by thinking with them to provide a framework for reflecting more deeply about socially divisive issues such as the war over the canon and the "politicization" of the university.Drawing on Aristophanes' Clouds, Sophocles' Antigone and Oedipus Tyrannos, and Plato's Apology of Socrates, Gorgias, and Protagoras, Euben develops a view of democratic political education. Arguing that Athenian democratic practices constituted a tradition of accountability and self-critique that Socrates expanded into a way of doing philosophy, Euben suggests a necessary reciprocity between political philosophy and radical democracy. By asking whether we can or should take "Socrates" out of the academy and put him back in front of a wider audience, Euben argues for anchoring contemporary higher education in appreciative yet skeptical encounter with the dramatic figure in Plato's dialogues. (shrink)
After decades of marginalization in the secularized twentieth-century academy, moral education has enjoyed a recent resurgence in American higher education, with the establishment of more than 100 ethics centers and programs on campuses across the country. Yet the idea that the university has a civic responsibility to teach its undergraduate students ethics and morality has been met with skepticism, suspicion, and even outright rejection from both inside and outside the academy. In this collection, renowned scholars of philosophy, politics, and religion (...) debate the role of ethics in the university, investigating whether universities should proactively cultivate morality and ethics, what teaching ethics entails, and what moral education should accomplish. The essays quickly open up to broader questions regarding the very purpose of a university education in modern society. Editors Elizabeth Kiss and J. Peter Euben survey the history of ethics in higher education, then engage with provocative recent writings by Stanley Fish in which he argues that universities should not be involved in moral education. Stanley Hauerwas responds, offering a theological perspective on the university’s purpose. Contributors look at the place of politics in moral education; suggest that increasingly diverse, multicultural student bodies are resources for the teaching of ethics; and show how the debate over civic education in public grade-schools provides valuable lessons for higher education. Others reflect on the virtues and character traits that a moral education should foster in students—such as honesty, tolerance, and integrity—and the ways that ethical training formally and informally happens on campuses today, from the classroom to the basketball court. _Debating Moral Education_ is a critical contribution to the ongoing discussion of the role and evolution of ethics education in the modern liberal arts university. _Contributors_. Lawrence Blum, Romand Coles, J. Peter Euben, Stanley Fish, Michael Allen Gillespie, Ruth W. Grant, Stanley Hauerwas, David A. Hoekema, Elizabeth Kiss, Patchen Markell, Susan Jane McWilliams, Wilson Carey McWilliams, J. Donald Moon, James Bernard Murphy, Noah Pickus, Julie A. Reuben, George Shulman, Elizabeth V. Spelman. (shrink)
The book roots corruption in the idea of a departure from conventional standards, and thus offers an account not only of its corrosiveness but also of its malleability and controversiality. In the course of a broadranging exploration, it examines various links between private and public corruption, connecting the latter with other social and political structures.
Platonic Noise brings classical and contemporary writings into conversation to enrich our experience of modern life and politics. Drawing on writers as diverse as Plato, Homer, Nietzsche, Borges, Don DeLillo, and Philip Roth, Peter Euben shows us the relevance of both popular literature and ancient Greek thought to current questions of loss, mourning, and democracy--all while arguing for the redeeming qualities of political and intellectual work and making an original case against presentism.Juxtaposing ancient and contemporary texts, politics, and culture, Euben (...) reflects on a remarkable range of recent issues and controversies. He discusses Stoic cosmopolitanism and globalization, takes a critical look at Nietzsche's own efforts to make the Greeks speak to the issues of his day, examines a Greek tragedy through Hannah Arendt's eyes, compares the role of comedy in ancient Athens and contemporary America, analyzes political theory as a reaction to an acute sense of loss, and considers questions of agency and morality.Platonic Noise makes a case for reading political theory and politics through literature. Working as much through example as through explicit argument, Euben casts the literary memory of Athenian democracy as a crucial cultural resource and a presence in contemporary political and theoretical debates. In so doing, he reasserts the moral value of what we used to call participatory democracy and the practical value of seeing ourselves with the help of insights from long-gone Greeks. (shrink)
This chapter investigates Euripedes' Bacchae and Herman Melville's Billy Budd. In Bacchae, which expresses the story of the god Dionysus returning to Thebes disguised as a human, initially asking, then demanding, acknowledgment of the divinity of his mother, Semele, Dionysus transforms the hypermasculine young king into a coquettish “girl.” In Billy Budd, the practice of impressing and oppressing sailors heightens the fear of mutiny, which in turn produces an atmosphere fraught with secrecy, fear, and conspiracy. Both of these texts display (...) a troubling dialectical link between innocence and violence, sacrifice, and evil. The chapter concentrates on the pivotal incident in Billy Budd: Billy's lashing out at Claggart when Claggart slanders him in front of Captain Vere. “Vere” would mediate in the world and soul as he does in the novel. But for reasons adduced before, his claim to do so is suspect. (shrink)