Shame and Necessity

ISBN-10: 0520256433

ISBN-13: 9780520256439

Edition: 2nd 2008

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Description:

We tend to suppose that the ancient Greeks had primitive ideas of the self, of responsibility, freedom, and shame, and that now humanity has advanced from these to a more refined moral consciousness. Bernard Williams's original and radical book questions this picture of Western history. While we are in many ways different from the Greeks, Williams claims that the differences are not to be traced to a shift in these basic conceptions of ethical life. We are more like the ancients than we are prepared to acknowledge, and only when this is understood can we properly grasp our most important differences from them, such as our rejection of slavery. The author is a philosopher, but much of his book is directed to writers such as Homer and the tragedians, whom he discusses as poets and not just as materials for philosophy. At the center of his study is the question of how we can understand Greek tragedy at all, when its world is so far from ours. Williams explains how it is that when the ancients speak, they do not merely tell us about themselves, but about ourselves. In a new foreword A.A. Long explores the impact of this volume in the context of Williams's stunning career.
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Book details

List price: $29.95
Edition: 2nd
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 4/15/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 260
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.836
Language: English

Sartre is the dominant figure in post-war French intellectual life. A graduate of the prestigious Ecole Normale Superieure with an agregation in philosophy, Sartre has been a major figure on the literary and philosophical scenes since the late 1930s. Widely known as an atheistic proponent of existentialism, he emphasized the priority of existence over preconceived essences and the importance of human freedom. In his first and best novel, Nausea (1938), Sartre contrasted the fluidity of human consciousness with the apparent solidity of external reality and satirized the hypocrisies and pretensions of bourgeois idealism. Sartre's theater is also highly ideological, emphasizing the importance of personal freedom and the commitment of the individual to social and political goals. His first play, The Flies (1943), was produced during the German occupation, despite its underlying message of defiance. One of his most popular plays is the one-act No Exit (1944), in which the traditional theological concept of hell is redefined in existentialist terms. In Red Gloves (Les Mains Sales) (1948), Sartre examines the pragmatic implications of the individual involved in political action through the mechanism of the Communist party and a changing historical situation. His highly readable autobiography, The Words (1964), tells of his childhood in an idealistic bourgeois Protestant family and of his subsequent rejection of his upbringing. Sartre has also made significant contributions to literary criticism in his 10-volume Situations (1947--72) and in works on Baudelaire, Genet, and Flaubert. In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and refused it, saying that he always declined official honors.At the time of his death in 2003, Bernard Williams was hailed by the Times as 'the outstanding moral philosopher of his age.' Bernard Williams taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Berkeley and Oxford. He is the author of Morality; Utlitarianism: For and Against; Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry and Truth and Truthfulness, and Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. In 2006 three volumes of his collected papers were published by Princeton University Press.

A. A. Long is Emeritus Professor of Classics, Irving G. Stone Professor of Literature, and Affiliated Professor of Philosophy and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.

Preface
Foreword to the 2008 Edition
The Liberation of Antiquity
Centres of Agency
Recognising Responsibility
Shame and Autonomy
Necessary Identities
Possibility, Freedom, and Power
Notes
Mechanisms of Shame and Guilt
Phaedra's Distinction: Euripides Hippolytus 380-87
Bibliography
General Index
Index Locorum
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