9780520204942 / 0520204948

Tragedy and Enlightenment: Athenian Political Thought and the Dilemmas of Modernity (Classics and Contemporary Thought)


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Publisher:University of California Press, 1997



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About the book:

Weaving together ancient Greek texts and postmodernist theory, Christopher Rocco addresses the debate between modernity and postmodernity that dominates contemporary theory. Interpreting Greek drama within a critical framework informed by contemporary theorists Foucault, Habermas, Horkheimer and Adorno, Tragedy and Enlightenment makes a sophisticated argument for the continuing relevance of the classical past, focusing on the subject of democracy.

The starting point for Rocco's analysis is the impasse in contemporary political and cultural theory over the possibility and desirability of democracy in a postmodern world. After explaining the competing positions in the current debate, Rocco argues that ancient Greek tragedy and dialogue—specifically Sophocles' Oedipus, Plato's Republic and Gorgias, and Aeschylus' Oresteia—suggest alternate constructions for this and other postmodern problems.

Rocco gives a detailed analysis of the contemporary divide over the theories of Jürgen Habermas and Michel Foucault and provides a provocative reading of Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment. This original contribution to political and cultural discourse brings us to a new understanding of familiar texts and will alter the grounds of debate for students and scholars of the classical and the contemporary worlds.

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