Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Yet Another Teaching Day -- Thucydides, Menexenus
Homer yesterday and already today it's Thucydides and the Homeric ambitiousness of the first eyewitness epic. We consider the politics and purchase of facticity among those traumatized by history, as well as the frame of "neutral" chronology as the pulse invigorating an ideology of the factually real. Thucydides' plutocratic celebration and debauchery of democracy in Pericles Funeral Oration and the Melian Dialogue provide an updated variation on Homer's before him. After break we make our first contact with Plato in an early, minor, some say spurious (Aristotle didn't think so, and he would know, is my view on that subject) dialogue, the Menexenus, introducing Socrates in a full array of humor, much of it not very nice, irony, mischief, slapstick, low ridicule, high satire -- of Pericles funeral oration, as it happens -- and an inkling of themes to come in the major dialogues. Socrates' misogynist treatment of the independent woman Aspasia, and his deployment of this misogyny to diminish the independent man Pericles are hard to stomach -- or to square with the figure of Diotima Aspasia paradoxically prefigures.