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In The Birth of Politics, Melissa Lane introduces the reader to the foundations of Western political thought, from the Greeks, who invented democracy, to the Romans, who created a republic and then transformed it into an empire. Tracing the origins of our political concepts from Socrates to Plutarch to Cicero, Lane reminds us that the birth of politics was a story as much of individuals as ideas. Scouring the speeches of lawyers alongside the speculations of philosophers, and the reflections of ex-slaves next to the popular comedies and tragedies of the Greek and Roman stages, this book brings ancient ideas to life in unexpected ways. Lane shows how the Greeks and Romans defined politics with distinctive concepts, vocabulary, and practices—all of which continue to influence politics and political aspirations around the world today. She focuses on eight political ideas from the Greco-Roman world that are especially influential today: justice, virtue, constitution, democracy, citizenship, cosmopolitanism, republic, and sovereignty. Lane also describes how the ancient formulations of these ideas often challenge widely held modern assumptions—for example, that it is possible to have political equality despite great economic inequality, or that political regimes can be indifferent to the moral character of their citizens. A stimulating introduction to the origins of our political ideas and ideals, The Birth of Politics demonstrates how much we still have to learn from the political genius of the Greeks and Romans.
What is politics? What are the origins of political philosophy? What can we learn from the Greeks and Romans? In Greek and Roman Political Ideas, acclaimed classics scholar Melissa Lane introduces the reader to the foundations of Western political thought, from the Greeks, who invented democracy, to the Romans, who created a republic and then transformed it into an empire. Tracing the origins of political philosophy from Socrates to Cicero to Plutarch, Lane reminds us that the birth of politics was as much a story of individuals as ideas.
Socrates wrote nothing; Plato's accounts of Socrates helped to establish western politics, ethics, and metaphysics. Both have played crucial and dramatically changing roles in western culture. In the last two centuries, the triumph of democracy has led many to side with the Athenians against a Socrates whom they were right to kill. Meanwhile the Cold War gave us polar images of Plato as both a dangerous totalitarian and an escapist intellectual. And visions of Plato have proliferated at the heart of postmodern critiques of the very idea of metaphysics and politics. Plato's Progeny begins with an account of modern responses to the trial of Socrates and the controversial question of Socrates' relation to Plato. At its centre are two chapters exploring the idea of Platonic origins in and for philosophy, and of Platonic foundations for philosophical politics. Exploring unfamiliar as well as familiar invocations of Plato, Melissa Lane argues that twentieth-century ideological battles have obscured the importance of Socratic individualism, the nature of Platonic ethics, and the value of Platonic politics. Succinct and clearly written, this is an ideal guide for everyone interested in the way philosophers are still writing footnotes to Plato.
"This edition of Eco-Republic is published by arrangement with Peter Lang Ltd; first published in 2011 by Peter Lang Ltd"--T.p. verso.
Although Samuel Johnson once remarked that "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels," over the course of the history of the United States we have seen our share of heroes: patriots who have willingly put their lives at risk for this country and, especially, its principles. And this is even more remarkable given that the United States is a country founded on the principles of equality and democracy that encourage individuality and autonomy far more readily than public spiritedness and self-sacrifice. Walter Berns's Making Patriots is a pithy and provocative essay on precisely this paradox. How is patriotism inculcated in a system that, some argue, is founded on self-interest? Expertly and intelligibly guiding the reader through the history and philosophy of patriotism in a republic, from the ancient Greeks through contemporary life, Berns considers the unique nature of patriotism in the United States and its precarious state. And he argues that while both public education and the influence of religion once helped to foster a public-minded citizenry, the very idea of patriotism is currently under attack. Berns finds the best answers to his questions in the thought and words of Abraham Lincoln, who understood perhaps better than anyone what the principles of democracy meant and what price adhering to them may exact. The graves at Arlington and Gettysburg and Omaha Beach in Normandy bear witness to the fact that self-interested individuals can become patriots, and Making Patriots is a compelling exploration of how this was done and how it might be again.
In a pluralistic society such as ours, tolerance is a virtue—but it doesn't always seem so. Some suspect that it entangles us in unacceptable moral compromises and inequalities of power, while others dismiss it as mere political correctness or doubt that it can safeguard the moral and political relationships we value. Tolerance among the Virtues provides a vigorous defense of tolerance against its many critics and shows why the virtue of tolerance involves exercising judgment across a variety of different circumstances and relationships—not simply applying a prescribed set of rules. Drawing inspiration from St. Paul, Aquinas, and Wittgenstein, John Bowlin offers a nuanced inquiry into tolerance as a virtue. He explains why the advocates and debunkers of toleration have reached an impasse, and he suggests a new way forward by distinguishing the virtue of tolerance from its false look-alikes, and from its sibling, forbearance. Some acts of toleration are right and good, while others amount to indifference, complicity, or condescension. Some persons are able to draw these distinctions well and to act in accord with their better judgment. When we praise them as tolerant, we are commending them as virtuous. Bowlin explores what that commendation means. Tolerance among the Virtues offers invaluable insights into how to live amid differences we cannot endorse—beliefs we consider false, actions we think are unjust, institutional arrangements we consider cruel or corrupt, and persons who embody what we oppose.

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