The Origins of Liberty

An Essay in Platonic Ontology

by Alexander Zistakis

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Unlike the vast majority of existing literature on Plato, the main claim of this book is that Liberty constitutes the central notion and preoccupation of his thought, and that indeed his theory of ideas is a theory of liberty. Plato's thought is at once the thought of liberty and a theory of liberation. What is more, this thought of liberty tends to be all-encompassing in the sense that it makes repeated efforts to find both the ideal liberty and the conditions and possibility of its existence in the so-called real (material and phenomenal) world. Hence the emphasis on ontology as the very grounds of his political philosophy and anthropology, as well as on the structural unity of all three. Furthermore, understood from such a perspective, Platonic philosophy appears as primarily an investigation, articulation and establishment of the relationships between the individual and the collective, a relationship which is taken to be the natural, the original and originary framework for any conception and exercise of human liberty, and especially democratic theory and politics.
By treating Plato’s philosophy as a continuous effort to find modes and dimensions of liberation in and through different forms of the relationship between the individual and the collective, our hope is not only to engage in the discussion about the meaning of Platonic ontological-political insights on different grounds, but also to provide a different perspective for the evaluation of its relevance for the central contemporary issues and problems regarding liberty, liberation, democracy and politics in general.
This book will be an interesting reading for both undergraduate students and experienced scholars and researchers, as well as for the general public interested in philosophy, classics and political theory.

Preface: About this Book

Instead of an Introduction: How to Read Plato’s Dialogues?

PART ONE — FOUNDATIONS OF LIBERTY

Chapter One: Freedom – General and Universal
1. The Will to Freedom
2. The Liberating Truth
3. The Individual and the Communal

Chapter Two: Dialectic of liberty
1. Institutions of Freedom
2. Liberty and Domination

Chapter Three: Participation and Appropriation

PART TWO — IDENTITY, DIFFERENCE AND PARTICIPATION

Chapter Four: Onto-Politics and Political Ontology

Chapter Five: Equality and Difference
1. Differential Equality
2. Philosophical Education and Political Consciousness

Chapter Six: The Good – Rationality, Totality, Dialectic
1. The Rationality of the Good
2. The Totality of the Good – The Conception of methexis
a) The Concept of methexis in the Parmenides
b) The Sophist – symplokê and the Hierarchy of Ideas
3. The Dialectical Nature of the Good
Excursus: The Time of Liberty

PART THREE — PLATO AND DEMOCRACY

Chapter Seven: Justice, Politics and Philosophy
1. Justice
2. Politicizing Philosophy
3. Philosophizing Politics

Chapter Eight: Foundations of Responisbility
1. Psychology of the Political
2. Theoretical Responsibility and Practical Accountability

Chapter Nine: The Politics of Virtue
1. Theoria, Praxis and Techne
2. The Virtue of Citizenship

Chapter Ten: Dialectic of Liberty Revisited – Democracy and Politeia
1. Plato and Democracy, Ancient and Modern
a) Dêmos
b) Qualifying for Politics
c) Consensus
2. Platonic Anti-Platonism

Epilogue: Liberty in the Polis

Selected Bibliography

Index of Names

Alexander Zistakis obtained his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Athens. Over the years, he actively contributed to graduate and open international seminars in ancient philosophy in Athens, as well as participated in numerous philosophical conferences and symposia on ancient and contemporary philosophy. He has taught humanities in Europe and the Middle East for more than twenty years. He is the author of five books and over fifty papers in ancient and contemporary philosophy, political theory, aesthetics and communication, published across three continents (Europe, America, Africa). He is currently a member of the editorial board of Phronimon (South African Journal for Greek Philosophy and Humanities).

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title
The Origins of Liberty
Book Subtitle
An Essay in Platonic Ontology
ISBN
978-1-62273-289-0
Edition
0th
Number of pages
250
Physical size
236mm x 160mm
Publication date
January 2018
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