Civic virtue and the type of education that produces publicly minded citizens became a topic of debate in American political discourse of the 1980s, as it once was among the intelligentsia of Classical Athens. Conservatives such as former National Endowment for the Humanities chairman William Bennett and his successor Lynn Cheney held up the Greek philosopher Aristotle as the model of a public-spirited, virtue-centered civic educator. But according to the contributors in this volume, a truer model, both in his own time and for ours, is Isocrates, one of the preeminent intellectual figures in Greece during the fourth century B.C.
In this volume, ten leading scholars of Classics, rhetoric, and philosophy offer a pathfinding interdisciplinary study of Isocrates as a civic educator. Their essays are grouped into sections that investigate Isocrates' program in civic education in general (J. Ober, T. Poulakos) and in comparison to the Sophists (J. Poulakos, E. Haskins), Plato (D. Konstan, K. Morgan), Aristotle (D. Depew, E. Garver), and contemporary views about civic education (R. Hariman, M. Leff). The contributors show that Isocrates' rhetorical innovations carved out a deliberative process that attached moral choices to political questions and addressed ethical concerns as they could be realized concretely. His notions of civic education thus created perspectives that, unlike the elitism of Aristotle, could be used to strengthen democracy.
Takis Poulakos is Associate Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Iowa.David Depew is Professor of Communication Studies and Rhetoric of Inquiry at the University of Iowa.
These varied and probing engagements with Isocrates are a very valuable contribution to our understanding of a figure with whom it remains difficult to come to terms. Readers of Isocrates and Civic Education will find many fruitful new questions opened up before them.
Introduction (David Depew and Takis Poulakos)
Part One: Isocrates and Classical Civic Education
1. I, Socrates . . . The Performative Audacity of Isocrates' Antidosis (Josiah Ober)
2. Isocrates' Civic Education and the Question of Doxa (Takis Poulakos)
Part Two: Isocrates and the Sophists
3. Rhetoric and Civic Education: From the Sophists to Isocrates (John Poulakos)
4. Logos and Power in Sophistical and Isocratean Rhetoric (Ekaterina Haskins)
Part Three: Isocrates and Plato
5. Isocrates' "Republic" (David Konstan)
6. The Education of Athens: Politics and Rhetoric in Isocrates and Plato (Kathryn Morgan)
Part Four: Isocrates and Aristotle
7. The Inscription of Isocrates into Aristotle's Practical Philosophy (David Depew)
8. Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Civic Education in Aristotle and Isocrates (Eugene Garver)
Part Five: Isocrates Then and Now
9. Civic Education, Classical Imitation, and Democratic Polity (Robert Hariman)
10. Isocrates, Tradition, and the Rhetorical Version of Civic Education (Michael Leff)
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