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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.
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.
For generations, the study of Greek and Latin was used to train the elites of the western world. Knowledge of classical culture, it was believed, produced more cultivated, creative individuals; Greece and Rome were seen as pinnacles of civilization, and the origins of western superiority over the rest of the world. Few today are willing to defend this elitist, sometimes racist, vision of the importance of classics, and it is no longer considered essential education for politicians and professionals. Shouldn’t classics then be obsolete? Far from it. As Neville Morley shows, the ancients are as influential today as they ever have been, and we ignore them at our peril. Not only do they have much to teach us about the past, but they can offer important lessons for the complex cultural, social and political worlds of the present. Introducing Polity’s Why It Matters series: In these short and lively books, world-leading thinkers make the case for the importance of their subjects and aim to inspire a new generation of students.

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