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141. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Jeremy R. Bell Empeiria kai Tribē: Plato on the “Art” of Flattery in Rhetoric and Sophistry
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In this essay I trace the terms empeiria and tribē throughout the Platonic corpus in order to expose their central position within Plato’s critique of the sophists and rhetoricians. I find that these two terms—both of which indicate a knack or habitude that has been developed through experiential familiarity with certain causal tendencies—are regularly deployed in order to account for the effectiveness of these speakers even in the absence of a technē; for, what Plato identifies with these terms is the sophists’ and rhetoricians’ near masterful familiarity with and ability to manipulate the doxa and the dogma of the many, hoi poloi.
142. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Jeffrey D. Gower The King of the Cosmos: Potentiality, Actuality, and the Logic of Sovereignty in Aristotle’s Metaphysics Λ
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This paper offers a deconstructive reading of the pure actuality of the un­moved mover of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda. Aristotle describes this first, unmoved principle of movement as a divine sovereign—the king of the cosmos—and maintains that the good governance of the cosmos depends on its unmitigated unity and pure actuality. It is striking, then, when Giorgio Agamben claims that Aristotle bequeathed the paradigm of sovereignty to Western philosophy not through his arguments for the pure actuality of the unmoved mover but rather through his description of the essence of potentiality. An interpretation of Aristotle’s account of potentiality in Metaphysics Theta therefore prepares the way for a deconstruction of the unity and pure actuality of the divine sovereign. I argue that the repetition of nous in Aristotle’s description of the divine thinking of thinking betrays traces of division and difference at the heart of divine sovereignty. If this is the case, then actuality and potentiality become indis­cernible at the level of the absolute and the sovereign corresponds to the bifurcated site of this indiscernibility.
143. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Catherine Zuckert Socrates and Timaeus: Two Platonic Paradigms of Philosophy
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Plato’s Timaeus is usually taken to be a sequel to the Republic which shows the cosmological basis of Plato’s politics. In this article I challenge the traditional understanding by arguing that neither Critias’s nor Timaeus’s speech performs the assigned function. The contrast between Timaeus’s monologue and the silently listening Socrates dramatizes the philosophical differences between investigations of “the human things,” like those conducted by Socrates, and attempts to demonstrate the intelligible, mathematically calculable order of the sensible natural world, like that of Timaeus.
144. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Burt C. Hopkins The Unwritten Teachings in Plato’s Symposium: Socrates’ Initiation into the Ἀριϴμός of Ἔρως
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The paper argues that the ontology of Self behind Descartes’s paradigmatic modern account of passion is an obstacle to interpreting properly the account Socrates gives in the Symposium of the truth of Eros’s origin, nature, and gift to the philosophical initiate into his truth. The key to interpreting this account is located in the relation between Eros and the arithmos-structure of the community of kinds, which is disclosed in terms of the Symposium’s dramatic mimesis of the two Platonic sources of being, the One Itself and the indeterminate dyad. This interpretation’s focus is the vulgar and philosophical dimensions of the phallic pun at the beginning of the dialogue. Both dimensions of the dialogue’s opening joke manifest the appearance of Eros in the dialogue as a distorted imitation of the koinonia of the greatest kinds: Being, Rest, Motion, the Same, and the Other.
145. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Thomas Tuozzo How Dynamic Is Aristotle’s Efficient Cause?
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Aristotle says that arts such as medicine, the soul, and the heavenly Unmoved Movers are all efficient causes. Because the arts do not seem to fit the model of an efficient cause that does something, scholars have posited two classes of efficient cause, “energetic” and “non-energetic” ones, and have classified the arts, the soul, and the Unmoved Movers as non-energetic. I argue that, once the way an Aristotelian efficient cause produces motion is properly understand, this distinction is not needed: all efficient causes are energetic. I end by proposing a new understanding of the efficient causality of the Unmoved Mover.
146. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Edward C. Halper Humor, Dialectic, and Human Nature in Plato
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Drawing principally on the Symposium, this paper argues that humor in Plato’s dialogues serves two serious purposes. First, Plato uses puns and other devices to disarm the reader’s defenses and thereby allow her to consider philosophical ideas that she would otherwise dismiss. Second, insofar as human beings can only be understood through unchanging forms that we fail to attain, our lives are discontinuous and only partly intelligible. Since, though, the discontinuity between expectation and actual occurrence is the basis for humor, Plato can use humor to express who we are as human beings.
147. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Benjamin A. Rider Self-Care, Self-Knowledge, and Politics in the Alcibiades I
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In the Alcibiades I, Socrates argues for the importance of self-knowledge. Recent interpreters contend that the self-knowledge at issue here is knowledge of an impersonal and purely rational self. I argue against this interpretation and advance an alternative. First, the passages proponents of this interpretation cite—Socrates’ argument that the self is the soul, and his suggestion that Alcibiades seek self-knowledge by looking for his soul’s reflection in the soul of another—do not unambiguously support their reading. Moreover, other passages, particularly Socrates’ cross-examination of Alcibiades, suggest the contrary reading, that self-knowledge includes knowledge of qualities peculiar to the individual.
148. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Christopher P. Long Crisis of Community: The Topology of Socratic Politics in the Protagoras
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In Plato’s Protagoras Alcibiades plays the role of Hermes, the ‘ambassador god,’ who helps lead Socrates’ conversation with Protagoras through a crisis of dialogue that threatens to destroy the community of education established by the dialogue itself. By tracing the moments when Alcibiades intervenes in the conversation, we are led to an understanding of Socratic politics as always concerned with the course of the life of an individual and the proper time in which it might be turned toward the question of justice and the good.
149. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Mark J. Thomas The Playful and the Serious: A Reading of Xenophon’s Symposium
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In this paper I investigate the relationship between the serious and the playful elements in Socrates’ character as these unfold within the context of Xenophon’s Symposium. For the Greeks, the concept of value is attached to the meaning of seriousness, and this accounts for the natural preference for the serious over the playful. Despite the potential rivalry of the playful and philosophy, Socrates mixes the playful with the serious in such a way as to conceal their boundary. This mixing serves the purpose of education, by both attracting us to Socrates and placing us at a distance from the intended meaning of his words.
150. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Rebecca Steiner Goldner Touch and Flesh in Aristotle’s de Anima
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In this paper, I argue for the sense of touch as primary in Aristotle’s account of sensation. Touch, as the identifying and inaugurating distinction of sensate beings, is both of utmost importance to Aristotle as well as highly aporetic on his explanation. The issue of touch and the problematic of flesh, in particular, bring us to Merleau-Ponty’s account of flesh as the chiasmic fold and overlap of subject and object, of self and other, and to an incipient and veiled knowledge present in the body’s orientation to and within the world.
151. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Benjamin Frazer-Simser Whither and Whence We Go, Where We Stop Nobody Knows: Prophecy, Ἔρως, and Self-Knowledge in the Phaedrus
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Beginning the Phaedrus, Socrates greets Phaedrus saying, “Dear Phaedrus, whither and whence?” This essay will unfold the salutation, exposing its power to disclose the erotic phenomena portrayed in the dialogue. Moreover, the erotic soul’s incorporation of future and past, its implementation of memory and prophecy, its agency and passivity, and its relation to these ways of being reveals its ability to know itself. However, the temporality in which the soul reveals itself is neither chronological nor dialectical but ecstatic, characterized as prophetic, for “the soul is somehow prophetic” and Socrates is “a kind of prophet.” The essay delves into the prophetic nature of the soul and its significance in understanding Socratic erotic self-knowledge in the Phaedrus.
152. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Theodore D. George Passive Resistance: Giorgio Agamben and the Bequest of Early German Romanticism and Hegel
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The purpose of this essay is to examine Giorgio Agamben’s important but underappreciated debts to the early German Romantics and to Hegel. While maintaining critical distance from these figures, Agamben develops crucial aspects of his approach to radical passivity with reference to them. The focus of this essay is on Agamben’s consideration of the early German Romantics’ notions of criticism and irony, Hegel’s notion of language, and the implications of this view of language for his notion of community.
153. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Omar Rivera Political Ontology (and Representative Politics), Agamben, Dussel . . . Subcomandante Marcos
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This paper articulates a ‘political ontology’ by orienting Agamben’s inquiries toward the autonomy of the constituting power. In relation to Agamben’s thought, it (1) clarifies it by drawing a categorical distinction between zōē and bare life, (2) departs from it by using Agamben’s analysis of potentiality to understand the paralysis of the constituting power and (3) develops it by unfolding the category of ‘exigency.’ The paper also sets into play a brief encounter between political ontology and representative politics (in Dussel).
154. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
María del Rosario Acosta López A “Tiny Displacement” of the World: On Giorgio Agamben’s Coming Community
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This paper explores the way in which Agamben takes part in the dialogue on “impolitical communities” that was inaugurated by J. L. Nancy and was soon followed by authors like M. Blanchot, J. Derrida and R. Esposito, among others. Although Agamben’s ontological exploration of ‘whatever being,’ followed later by the political idea of form-of-life, are still very close particularly to Nancy’s work, the article will show in which ways Agamben’s view of a political coming community explores different paths and moves in unusual registers, that help to understand in new ways the kind of inoperativeness involved in a contemporary rethinking of community. The notion of experience of thought as potentiality and its relationship to that “tiny displacement” of the world which Agamben seems to connect with his idea of a coming community will play a central role in the analysis.
155. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Benjamin S. Pryor On the “Perfect Time of Human Experience”: Agamben and Foucault
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This essay articulates a convergence between Foucault and Agamben: the possibility of an uncomplicated belonging to the profane, or to the perfect time of human experience. Agamben articulates a sense of experience as experience that “tears me from myself,” that points to a transformed conception of the world and a body and that connects his thinking to Foucault’s. This article places Agamben with Foucault outside of the alternative between messianism and pessimism. In the “perfect time of human experience,” in potentiality, possibility, and absolute immanence, Agamben finds a way of experiencing, a path along which philosophy has always wanted to step, one that I argue is taken in Foucault’s bio-politics.
156. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Jason Kemp Winfree No More Beautiful Days
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This paper aims to situate Agamben’s treatment of the issue of community. It shows how Agamben departs from and supplements the French discourse on community through a critique of negativity; how the significance of community is measured against the society of the spectacle; and how the alienation from our linguistic being, which the spectacle effects, conditions a politics opposed to the State apparatus. Agamben’s coming community appropriates the dispossession and impropriety of contemporary human being in order to reconfigure the relation of belonging and singularity.
157. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Walter Brogan On Giorgio Agamben’s Naked Life: The State of Exception and the Law of the Sovereign
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This article attempts to explore why it is that the “state of exception” is so pivotal to Agamben’s analysis of sovereignty and the possibility of a coming community beyond the sovereign state and its power machines. The essay distinguishes between two senses of the state of exception and tries to explain their interconnection. The “zone of indistinction” opens up an irreparable gap between sovereign power and its execution and between “bare life” and citizenship. These are the spaces that both drive and dismantle the apparatus of State power and permit Agamben to open the discussion of a coming community.
158. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Kalliopi Nikolopoulou Between Art and the Polis: Between Agamben and Plato
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In The Man Without Content, Giorgio Agamben makes a few but poignant references to Plato’s understanding of art. Because art’s impact was powerful, Plato deemed art dangerous and subordinated it to politics. In contrast, Agamben argues, modern art enjoys the privilege of formal autonomy at the cost of losing political significance. This essay develops the Platonic dimension in Agamben’s thought: whereas Platonic censorship recognizes art’s power by way of prohibition, the modern culturalist tolerance of art is symptomatic of art’s reduction into commodity and of the public indifference toward it.
159. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Jeffrey A. Bernstein Child’s Play: Reflections on Agamben’s Conception of Contemporary Historical Exigency and its Winnicottian Dimension
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This article explores the influence of Winnicott’s conceptual constellation of early childhood, play, use, transitional phenomena, and transitional object upon Agamben’s thinking of contemporary historical exigency.
160. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Peg Birmingham The Subject of Rights: On the Declaration of the Human
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It is often pointed out that Agamben’s most profound disagreement with Hannah Arendt is his rejection of anything like a “right to have rights” that would guarantee the belonging to a political space. I want to suggest, however, that the subject of rights in Agamben’s thought is more complicated, arguing in this essay that Agamben’s critique is not with the concept of human rights per se, but with the declaration of modern rights. In other words, this essay will explore how Agamben’s analysis of language, especially vis-à-vis the figure standing outside the gates of the city, allows for rethinking the subject of rights. This analysis suggests that when thinking the notion of right, we must move from the declaration of right rooted in logos to the material dimension of language that makes such a declaration possible. Calling into question Aristotle’s claim that the human being is political because the human being is zoon logon echon, Agamben’s analysis shows that there is no place where the “I” can transform itself into speech. There is always a “non-place” of articulation that is not something outside the polis, but at the very heart of the polis itself. This non-place marks the exposure of the human as such. Following Agamben, I argue that human rights are not declared, but are exposed in our very appearance, our very being-manifest. I argue that our being-manifest provides for a new notion of human rights, rooted in the ontological condition of appearance that carries with it the right of exposure, without identity, to appear. In conclusion, I consider the relation of language and law in Agamben’s thought, asking whether Agamben’s critique of the juridical and his call for a politics without law preclude any resurrection of human rights?