The Greeks and the Irrational

The Greeks and the Irrational[Download] ➵ The Greeks and the Irrational By E.R. Dodds – Heartforum.co.uk 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 ps In this philosophy classic, which was first published and the ePUB ↠ 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 The Greeks MOBI :Ä 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.

Eric Robertson Dodds was an Irish classical scholar and the ePUB ↠ He signed all his publications E R Dodds.

The Greeks and the Irrational Kindle ï The Greeks
  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • The Greeks and the Irrational
  • E.R. Dodds
  • English
  • 13 June 2017
  • 0520242300

10 thoughts on “The Greeks and the Irrational

  1. Manny says:

    click for larger version bottom of page click for larger version bottom of page

  2. Lisa Lieberman 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.Dod 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 choiceThis 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

  3. Derek 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 werewidely accepted during the Archaic, Classical, and Hellen 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 werewidely 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 drivenby 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

  4. Erik Graff 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.

  5. Regan 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 Socrate 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. Muzzy 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 de 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. Feliks 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 , pr 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. Matthew Gallaway 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 s 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. Individualfrog says:

    I ve seen this book cited in many other books, but the one which made me especially want to read it was The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind It turns out the problem with it is very similar to the problem with that one its hostility to its own subject matter, in favor of a very High Modernist view of SCIENCE AND REASON as the be all end all of virtue and goodness, a view which seems to me very foolish, staggering drunkenly under the weight of its unexamined assump I ve seen this book cited in many other books, but the one which made me especially want to read it was The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind It turns out the problem with it is very similar to the problem with that one its hostility to its own subject matter, in favor of a very High Modernist view of SCIENCE AND REASON as the be all end all of virtue and goodness, a view which seems to me very foolish, staggering drunkenly under the weight of its unexamined assumptions and prejudices Except for the now amusing unquestioned Freudianism, there s nothing in here which would give Gibbon pause except perhaps insofar as the real Gibbon differs from the caricature Gibbon who saw the medieval period as a uniform Dark Age of superstitious ignorance, etc Dodds certainly believes in that absurd notion, like a reddit atheist brandishing The Graph.Which seems odd, considering the anecdote which begins the book A student at the British Museum says the Greek art leaves him cold because it s all so terribly rational , and Dodds wrote the book,or less, to set him straight, to show that Ancient Greek culture was not lacking in the awareness of mystery and in the ability to penetrate to the deeper, less conscious levels of human experience And goes on to give examples of the truth of this, from Homer down to late Antiquity So far so good But like Jaynes, no doubt under Dodds influence, was later to do, he pivots in his last chapter to essentially say, however, all this irrationality is actually why the Greeks were stupid and terrible, and your desire for something else, student, means you desire totalitarianism In the first note to this chapter, he says, A completely open society would be, as I understand the term, a society where modes of behavior were entirely determined by a rational choice between possible alternatives and whose adaptations were all of them conscious and deliberate , which pretty much sets the tone for the bizarre, Gernsbackian sci fi assumptions to come, that Man is poised on the edge of a Great Leap, if only we have the courage to face the Cold Equations of rationality, instead of, like, chickening out and having feelings It s true the entire book is full of clues the constant use of words like primitive and progress and Oriental meaning weird, static, hierarchical, etc But it s still a disappointment to slog through that last chapter, and realize yet again that I don t have an ally after all, that yet another famous book is dedicated to propositions that I find absurd and repugnant It s like when Spock pronounces sagely that logic dictates some excellent moral precept though I may agree with the precept, I cannot agree with the idea that logic or reason dictates anything You can reach literally any conclusion perhaps excepting a self contradiction using logic, it just depends on what assumptions you start from as the very expert logicians of those Dark and Superstitious and Ignorant Middle Ages knew quite well Reason can t save you from being evil, and doing bad things I m muchinclined towards the view, disdained in these pages, that reason is mostly used to rationalize conclusions already reached in the heart And certainly I find it hardly clear that the White Male Bourgeois Rational Technocrat is the apex of human life, guiding us Onward and Upward to the stars.So it s yet another book where the content is wonderful, the information is fascinating I don t know what modern anthropology thinks of the assumption, here as in Frazer etc, that every myth and ritual and story is actually just a cover for something else, usually human sacrifice but I enjoy that too , but the attitude is gross and dismissive Honestly I begin to see why people responded well to Jung who else, in those Midcentury times, was saying that things don t have to make sense to be good, that the irrational can be healthy, that inchoate, unreasonable emotions are OK

  10. Mary Catelli says:

    A book on a somewhat loose and heterogeneous collection of concepts Then, it was to combat the pop culture image of the Greeks as the perfect culture of rationality that the Enlightenment is so blameworthy for coming up with The middle ages get the equally and oppositely ridiculous image of the world of irrationality for that I recommend C S Lewis s The Discarded Image To be sure, it uses the loose goosey, pop culture notion of what s rationality and irrationality, but then, so does the A book on a somewhat loose and heterogeneous collection of concepts Then, it was to combat the pop culture image of the Greeks as the perfect culture of rationality that the Enlightenment is so blameworthy for coming up with The middle ages get the equally and oppositely ridiculous image of the world of irrationality for that I recommend C S Lewis s The Discarded Image To be sure, it uses the loose goosey, pop culture notion of what s rationality and irrationality, but then, so does the image.So it goes though monitions in Homer, whether the characters are said to be moved by gods, and the development of a guilt culture from a shame culture and all the attendant development of pollution and catharsis, which originally meant ritual purification An insane man might go through many ceremonies for many gods and goddesses known to cause insanity, and if it didn t work why, obviously, they had yet to propitiate the right god.Inspiration as a form of madness, whether it caused prophecy, ritual dancing, or poetry.Dreams They did not think all dreams significant Unlike, say, Freud I must say that it s a few decades and takes Freud ratherseriously than turned out to be wise But you have your premonitions and other abilities.This took on a rather shamanistic slant he puts out a correlation to demonstrate that Orpheus was a shaman and the reason that the dreams can be prophetic is that the god like soul isgod like when semi liberated by sleep Logically, stillgod like when liberated by death Which lead to Puritanism One Pythagorean dictum was that pleasure was always bad, because souls were put in bodies to be punished, and they should be punished On the principle of taking your medicine as quickly as you could The rationalistic culture and the dream of progress, rather like the Victorian Also, like the Victorian, leading to a rapid backlash Partly because questioning everything gave a good number of young men to believe in rights without responsibilities, Right Makes Might, and other beliefs that no society can possibly survive when they run wild The persecution of which Socrates was perhaps the best known victim but there were other prominent ones A great deal of discussion about society and whether it can survive such questioning I think his optimism in the last chapter is undercut by this one Plato and his changing views on the irrational soul Hellenism and the revival of magic and other irrationalities.A fascinating grab bag of information

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *