Solon the Thinker : political thought in archaic Athens by John David Lewis

By John David Lewis

In "Solon the philosopher" John Lewis provides the speculation that Solon observed Athens as a self-governing, self-supporting method corresponding to the early Greek conceptions of the cosmos. Solon's polis features no longer via divine intervention yet by means of its personal inner strength, that is based at the highbrow wellbeing and fitness of its humans, depends on their popularity of justice and moderation as orderly norms of existence, and results in the rejection of tyranny and slavery in favour of freedom. yet Solon's naturalistic perspectives are restricted; in his personal lifestyles all people is topic to the arbitrary foibles of moira, the inscrutable destiny that governs human existence, and that brings us to an unknowable yet inevitable dying. Solon represents either the recent rational, clinical spirit that was once sweeping the Aegean - and a go back to the fatalism that permeated Greek highbrow existence. this primary paperback variation encompasses a new appendix of translations of the fragments of Solon by means of the author.

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Lines 3-4 in fragment 6 make the same essential claims as found in poem 4, albeit in a different order. Poem 4 line 7 begins with the flawed noos of the leaders of the people, extends the consequences through koros and hubris, which the remainder of the poem takes into civil strife, war and slavery. 3-4 is a generalized form of the claim in poem 4, that hubris in the polis is the inevitable result of koros, the excess that follows men of unjust noos. 3-4 to the political ordering of Athens, in terms of the propensity of the people or 27 Solon the Thinker their leaders to act immoderately.

Material success leads to the demand for more, at the expense of others, with dire consequences for the polis. Solon makes explicit the psychic factors that necessitate this shift. For Solon, this desire for more at any price is not a function of material wealth itself, any more than receiving a pay-cheque today might lead one to commit robbery tonight. It is rather a person’s attitude or disposition towards wealth and power that motivates a man towards violence, slavery and larceny. If noos is not artios (‘proper’, or ‘appropriate’) then the effects of material goods will be negative; ‘satiety’ becomes ‘excess’.

Perhaps this is an early form of what would become Aristotle’s ethical ‘mean relative to us’, an idea that connects virtue to what is appropriate to each individual, all the while preserving the general categories by which it is grasped. Taking a counter-example from later history, given his ascetic premises, an archetypical medieval saint will reject material success in favour of poverty, seeing himself as good through self-abnegation. Material wealth has a very different effect on him than on a Greek, who values it and wants to live well.

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