The School of Doubt conducts a close philological and philosophical reading of Cicero’s
Academica, a fragmentary work on sense-perception and Academic history written in the wake of Caesar’s victory in the civil wars (45 BCE). Focusing in turn on the author’s letters discussing the process of composition, the historiographical treatment of the Platonic tradition and the critical exploration of philosophical doubt, this volume presents Cicero as an original and sophisticated historian of philosophy and a radical figure in Western skeptical thought. Widely misconstrued as a technical treatise and a mere chronicle of the Greek debates on which it draws, the
Academica here emerges as a key work in the evolution of Ciceronian philosophy and of ancient skepticism – and one that responds directly to the disintegration of Republican Rome.
Cynical Suspicions and Platonist Pretensions, John McGuire offers a critique of recent trends in contemporary political theory, specifically concerning the ‘dangers’ of cynicism and the contamination of public reason. In the view of many theorists and pundits, cynicism remains one of the gravest ills to befall any democratic society, injecting a virulent estrangement which leaves sufferers unable to trust elected representatives and unwilling to participate in collective action. Starting with a reconstruction of the performative and rhetorical tactics of the ‘first’ Cynic, Diogenes of Sinope (c. 323 BCE), John McGuire aims to demonstrate how cynicism’s non-defeatist, relentlessly sceptical ethos provides an important counterweight to the self-aggrandising designs of moralists and policymakers alike.
Plato on Democracy and Political technē Sørensen argues that the question of democracy’s ‘epistemic potential’ was one that Plato took more seriously than is usually assumed. While he famously rejected democracy on the basis of its inherent inability to accommodate political expertise (
technē), he did not think that this failure on democracy’s part was necessarily inevitable but a concept that required further examination. Sørensen shows that in a number of his most important dialogues (
Republic, Gorgias, Statesman, Protagoras, Theaetetus), Plato was ready to take up the question of democracy’s epistemic potential and to enter into strikingly technical and sophisticated discussions of what both rule by
technē and rule by the people would have to look like in order for the two things to be compatible.
Philosophy and Political Power in Antiquity is a collection of essays examining ancient philosophers' reflections on the connection between political power and philosophy. The ancient Greeks both invented political philosophy and were the first to conceptualize the implicit tension between political activity and the contemplative life as found in ideal political institutions and under conditions of repressive rule. These essays examine discussions of these issues within a wide variety of the major schools of antiquity from both interpretive and analytical perspectives. While providing novel approaches to ancient philosophical texts, this volume attests to the importance of political reflection, deliberation, and resistance for ancient thought, and to the enduring strength and relevance of these reflections for contemporary debates within political philosophy.