[[ books pdf ]] The Greeks and the IrrationalAuthor E.R. Dodds – Memovende.co

In This Philosophy Classic, Which Was First Published In , E R Dodds Takes On The Traditional View Of Greek Culture As A Triumph Of Rationalism Using The Analytical Tools Of Modern Anthropology And Psychology, Dodds Asks, Why Should We Attribute To The Ancient Greeks An Immunity From Primitive Modes Of Thought Which We Do Not Find In Any Society Open To Our Direct Observation Praised By Reviewers As An Event In Modern Greek Scholarship And A Book Which It Would Be Difficult To Over Praise, The Greeks And The Irrational Was VolumeOf The Sather Classical Lectures Series


10 thoughts on “The Greeks and the Irrational

  1. says:

    I first read this book during the height of my Greek phase in college a phase, I should add, that lasted through grad school, when I did one of my fields in medieval Christian thought, largely so that I could trace the influence of Plato through to the early modern era Joining the Group Read of Emily Wilson s translation of The Odyssey has provided me with an opportunity to revisit my love of ancient Greek literature and philosophy Needless to say, a great deal has changed since the 1970s.Dodds, I am sorry to report, has not aged well If you re looking to explore the wondrous aspects of Homer s world, I would recommend Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicholson For an overview of Athenian thought in the 4th century BC, start with Gregory Vlastos, Plato s Universe with a new Introduction by Luc Brisson, which opens with the Presocratics and goes through to Aristotle I had the privilege of hearing Vlastos lecture, toward the end of his life, at the University of London He was a rock star in the field of Classical Studies and I am not ashamed to admit to having been a groupie But back to Dodds The Greeks and the Irrational originated as a series of lectures delivered at Berkeley in 1949 and the book bears the marks of the era Erich Fromm s Escape from Freedom 1941 and Karl Popper s The Open Society and Its Enemies 1945 were significant influences on Dodds Both Fromm and Popper were refugees from Nazi Europe, the first a psychoanalyst, the second a philosopher Both sought to apply the tools of their trades toward understanding how Totalitarianism was possible, in a world that seemed to be progressing toward freedom and enlightenment Fromm found an answer in the still primitive impulses within our psyche paralleling the impulses that the cultural anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor observed in primitive societies Freud was influenced by Tylor, I should mention Popper found evidence of these impulses in Plato s Republic, and speculated that the great philosopher was articulating the anxieties felt by members of his class toward the spread of Athenian democracy He called Plato a proto fascist Let me say right now that, notwithstanding Plato s paternalism in the Republic, I disagree with Popper So did Vlastos Vehemently Dodds said that he wanted to approach the ancient world on its own terms, rather than succumbing to the tendency of some of his peers of viewing the past through the lens of the present The depth of his scholarly understanding of the Greeks is fully evident as he traces notions of divine possession from the earliest parts of the Homeric epics through the classical period and beyond, but in terming these elements irrational, and religious, as if the two were synonymous, he shows his hand By the time we get to the final essay in the book, The Fear of Freedom, his allegiances are clear.Mind you, I share his concern over the recoil from rationalism or, to put it in Existentialist terms Dodds was also reading postwar French philosophers, as was I at the same time I was reading the Greeks and Dodds s book , the unconscious flight from the heavy burden of individual choice This burden of responsibility drives some into the arms of conservative parties and authoritarian leaders who promise a return to simpler times Did the Greeks go there first Can we draw lessons from what Dodds ultimately confesses is the theme of his book the failure of Greek rationalism so that we, unlike the Greeks, will face squarely those irrational elements in human nature which govern, without our knowledge, so much of our behavior and so much of what we think is our thinking and subdue them Sadly, I m afraid not.


  2. says:

    Despite its age, this work by Dodds is still considered a seminal text for students of Greek history and classics The usual survey level understanding of the Greeks is that they were a culture which always put rationality on a pedestal at the expense of all else and ultimately ignored the irrational until well after the passing of the classical period Dodds corrects this view, showing irrational impulses and institutions which were widely accepted during the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Periods than the works of rationalist philosophers such as Heraclitus and Plato At a most fundamental level, this work is great for putting Greek intellectuals in their proper place at the fringes of society and in reaction to it.This was one of the first works of ancient history to employ modern anthropological and psychological theory as a tool for interpreting the past Though early efforts at this were almost always clumsy and driven by the theory than by the facts, Dodds uses his modern insights cautiously, judiciously, and helpfully The scope of the work is broad and every chapter addresses some different aspect of Greek irrationality The chapter which several Classics professors seem to have memorized is the one on how Greece transitioned from being a shame culture in Homer s time to a guilt culture by the Archaic Period This was based on studies trying to make sense of Japanese shame culture after World War II This part seems a bit simplistic and is probably the most dated section, but since the Classics Department at my current university is rather geriatric, I can see why they are still bewitched by this section.Other sections carry with them certain assumptions about the nature of religion which are out of vogue, such as the idea that the beliefs of the elite and common people were completely different However, that does not necessarily mean that Dodds was wrong and at least his assumptions are out in the open and can be seen for what they are Though what is here lacks the latest evidence and isn t the most in depth coverage of any particular facet of Greek religion and psychology, it is still an excellent summary of classical scholarship up to 1951 and everything here seems like a reasonable interpretation of the evidence then available.If you are a hardcore Hellenophile, then this is one of the best books ever However, it is definitely not for the casual reader or a novice to the subject matter.


  3. says:

    Dodds was a classicist and member of the Society for Psychical Research who apparently got fed up enough with the hackneyed portrayal of the classical Greeks as rationalists to pen this popular study of the irrational elements of their culture and beliefs It s an easy read and somewhat of an antidote to the usual picture given students in high school and introductory college courses.


  4. says:

    Evropljani vole u anti koj Gr koj da vide detinjstvo svoje kulture Ovo detinjstvo, kao i svako drugo, idealizovano je Staru Gr ku volimo da zami ljamo kao mesto istinske demokratije, velikih mislilaca, umetnika i, ponajpre, kao kolevku evropske racionalnosti Idealizovane predstave dugujemo uglavnom nema kim klasi arima 19 veka o ovome, ali i o mnogo emu drugome, pogledati Chris Markerov dokumenatrac L heritage de la chouette Dodsova studija Grci i iracionalno nam menja idealizovanu predstavu o racionalnim Grcima, pru aju i nam istinsko udubljivanje u iraciolnalne slojeve anti kog sveta.Bo ansko isku enje ili zaslepljenost ate , menos to bi rekao Homer neka estina zabridi u nosu , psyche, thumos Odisej u svom thumosu planira odmah da ubije Kiklopa , bo anski phthonos ili ljubomora bogova i njena najbli a ro aka nemesis ili pravedna ozloje enost bogova, preno enje gre ke na potomke, gluvi telefoni izme u pitije i Apolona, demoni ne nadam se, ne pla im se, nisam besan to je samo demon svratio u mene , skitski amani, itd Itd.Za Grke postojali su ludi ljudi i bo anski ludi ljudi Sokrat u Platonovom Fedru razlikuje etiri vrste bo anskog ludila a profetsko ludilo ako nam je Apolon blagonaklon , b magijsko ludilo njega finansira Dionis , c pesni ko ludilo ako nas vole Muze , d ljubavno ludilo ako smo u milosti Afrodite i Erosa Dods ne primenjuje samo filolo ko istorijski metod, ve svoje zaklju ke brani psihologijom i antropologijom, to knjigu ini daleko zanimljivijom On se ne libi da se pozove na savremena iskustva ne bi li objasnio i pribli io neki fenomen Tako pi u i o proro i tvu u Delfiju, Dods ne osporava proro i te na onaj strogo racionalisti ki na in po kome su Delfi bili odli no organozovan centar za manipulaciju, ve se poziva na ljudsku psihologiju koja omogu ava ljudima da veruju vidovnjacima Koliko su ljudi spremni da la u sami sebe mo e biti jasno svakoj osobi koja je imala priliku da prisustvuje najobi nijem itanju sudbine iz taloga kafe Va no je napomenuti i da je knjiga objavljena 1951 neposredno nakon Drugog svetskog rata i tokom zahuhtavanja Hladnog rata, te se iracionalnost u Antici posmatra u skladu sa iskustvom totalitarnih ideologija dvadesetog veka To nekad mo e da bude zanimljivo, a nekad mo e da izgleda i prenagla eno, gotovo maniristi ki, kao da se pedesetih godina krivac za totalitarizam tra io svuda u prosvetiteljstvu, Kantu, nema kom idealizmu, Ni eu ovde je krivica diskretno spu tena na Platona.Ono to je meni bilo najvi e uzbudljivo jeste vizija religijskog razvoja koji je predstavljen kao jedan konglomerat Religijski razvoj je nalik geolo kom Uvek su u pitanju naslage iz razli itog vremenskog perioda Osnovni vladaju i princip je nagomilovanje, a ne zamena Nov obrazac verovanja vrlo retko potpuno bri e religijski obrazac koji je postojao pre njega ili stari ivi poput novog ponekad kao nepriznat i elemenat koji smo polusvesni ili oba traju jedan pored drugog, logi ki u neskladu, ali istovremeno prihva eni od strane razli itih a ponekad i istih pojedinaca U klasi nom dobu anti ke Gr ke ve je bilo nagomilano tu ta i tma razli itih verovanja, a mogu da zamislim koliko je svega i sva ega nagomilano danas, vi e od 2000 godina kasnije itav buvljak verovanja second hand iracionalnost.


  5. says:

    While Ancient Greeks are most known for the triumph of rationalism over superstition and magic, E.R Dodds presents an alternate history which demonstrates that, despite the intellectual advancements in the direction of reason, the Greeks particularly Plato of the Golden Age fundamentally retained certain pre 5th century magical read irrational thinking within their traditions Dodds thinks this is a good thing, since we are not merely thinking but also feeling agents a fact that Socrates and Aristotle understood well Dodds argues that the progressive excision of irrationality in the Stoic and Epicurean traditions turns out to be a regression a failure to appreciate the affective elements of living a human life He sees this failure culminate in medieval Christianity s devaluation of earthly life.This book is essential and utterly fascinating Because it was first delivered as a series of lectures each chapter is relatively short approx 15 20 pages , it is eminently digestible and suitable for any audience But boy, does he pack a lot of detail in on average there are about 100 footnotes a chapter This makes this a great bibliographical source in addition to being a spectacular read.


  6. says:

    I suggest everyone should read chapter 2 on shame versus guilt culture, as well as the excellent concluding chapter Fear of Freedom In the last chapter, Dodds asks how it s possible for a civilization to walk right up to the edge of reason and then, at the last minute, retreat into magic and superstition What caused this turn away from an open society He does a great job reviewing all the socio economic arguments, which he dismisses one by one That leaves him with one hypothesis some deep, subconscious fears and desires must have driven the Greeks to embrace the irrational Okay, fine But then he concludes in a way that makes me scratch my head In his last two paragraphs, Dodds writes that the Greeks lacked an instrument for understanding and controlling those unconscious drives Fortunately, though, we moderns do possess such an instrument We could achieve a rational, open civilization, if only we choose I wonder what exactly that instrument might be I m afraid he might be referring to Freudian psychoanalysis Were intellectuals of the 1940s really so optimistic about the potential for psychology to save the world Nobody in the 21st century seems to believe that Freud is the answer So I m skeptical.I came up well after the 1940s, so I didn t get much exposure to the mistaken idea that Ancient Greece was purely rational My college professor was all about Dionysus and mystery cults He made us read Walter Burkert So I ve pretty much always assumed the Greeks were just as weird and superstitious as modern Americans Nevertheless, read this book.


  7. says:

    Interesting topic the writing is as dry as the dust on the Acropolis but overall too fascinating to dismiss as just pedantic If you want to get to know Greek culture, this is a good means because it invokes a thinking about process rather than just receiving the stories The author discussing various aspects of mental irrationality and how they might have been perceived by the Greeks draws on numerous references At the end of each chapter e.g., madness , spiritual possession , prophecy or ghosts you come away with much to mull over Its an info dump from the mouth of a howitzer No hand holding or spoon feeding , here This kind of author would write rings around someone like Jared Diamond or Malcolm Gladwell Copious notes and bibliography placed after each chapter, rather than all at the end You rarely see that any.


  8. says:

    I read this book four times in a row The premise is that the advent of Socratic rationalism did not lead to an enlightened society at least outside of an intellectual elite in ancient Greece, but somewhat disastrously led to a popular mainstream backlash that ushered in a new society that became increasingly irrational, superstitious, and fundamentalist not to mention lacking in innovation from scientific and artistic perspectives in ways that have amazing parallels to divisions in modern society The book is beautifully written and argued, and even the footnotes are worth scouring I would give this book fifty thousand stars if I could.


  9. says:

    Un interesante ensayo sobre la evoluci n del pensamiento irracional , entendido como m gico m stico religioso, en la Grecia cl sica a trav s de los textos que han perdurado, desde Homero hasta Plat n, al tiempo que muestra la forma que esos modos influyen y conforman nuestra forma de pensar contempor nea.Muy interesante Aunque con exceso de t rminos en griego que me ha costado la vista desentra ar y comprender, y eso solo algunos La edici n espa ola es la de 1986, de Alianza Espero que en otras ediciones o revisiones se solucione el problema de la tipograf a y se anoten los significados o traducciones de los t rminos.Un cl sico para entender la evoluci n del pensamiento.