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Aristotle on Slavery and Household Management “Insofar as Normal criticism takes ‘literature’ or ‘art’ to consist only of those creations...which reinforce...capacities.

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Presentation on theme: "Aristotle on Slavery and Household Management “Insofar as Normal criticism takes ‘literature’ or ‘art’ to consist only of those creations...which reinforce...capacities."— Presentation transcript:

1 Aristotle on Slavery and Household Management “Insofar as Normal criticism takes ‘literature’ or ‘art’ to consist only of those creations...which reinforce...capacities for repression, bad faith, or genteel violence, it must be seen as complicit in the very processes of self-denial that characterize...consumptive societies.” Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse

2 Gottfried Benn (a Nazi sympathizer) on Culture and Slavery “[E]verything that has made the West famous, which has marked out its development, which is at work within it even today, was created--let us be perfectly clear about it-- in slave-owning states…History is rich in examples of the pharaonic exercise of power being linked with culture; and the song of this revolves like the starry vault.” ~ “Der neue Staat und die Intellektuellen,” text as in R. Wiggershaus, The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance (Cambridge, Mass., 1999) 524

3 Base and Superstructure: Karl Marx on Ideology “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: that is, the class which is the ruling material force in society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it.” ~ The German Ideology (R.C. Tucker, ed., The Marx- Engels Reader, 172)

4 Binary Oppositions Revisited The Overdetermined Slave  Greek/Barbarian; Adult/Child; Male/Female; Free/Slave  Important Historical Catalysts Persian Wars ( BCE ) and the Inferiority of the Barbarian (Slave) Rise of Macedonia (mid-fourth century BCE ) Conquest of Persia (Isocrates)

5 Aristotle ( BCE )  Student of Plato; passed over as head of Academy  Lyceum in Athens (Rejection of Forms; Empiricism)  Wide-Ranging Research Interests (rhetoric, botany, zoology, logic, metaphysics)  Tutor of Alexander III (“the Great”), King of Macedonia  Politics and Constitutions (Athenaion Politeia)

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7 Free/Slave Antinomy in Aristotelian Thought Intellect is to Body as Free is to Slave: “For he that can by his intelligence foresee things needed is by nature ruler and master, while he whose bodily strength enables him to perform them is by nature a slave, one of those who are ruled. Thus there is a common interest uniting master and slave.” (Politics, 1.2)

8 Free/Slave Antinomy in Aristotelian Thought Barbarian = Slave: “So as the poets say, "It is proper that [Greeks] should rule over barbarians", meaning that barbarian and slave are by nature identical.” (Politics, 1.2)

9 Climatic/Geographical Determinism Aristotle, Politics, 1327b23-33 “The races that live in cold regions and those of Europe are full of courage and passion but somewhat lacking in skill and brain power; for this reason, while remaining generally independent, they lack political cohesion and the ability to rule over others. On the other hand the Asiatic races have both brains and skill but are lacking in courage and will power; so they remain enslaved and subject. The Greeks, occupying a mid-position geographically, have a measure of both. They continue to be free, to have the best political institutions, and to be capable of ruling over all others.”

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11 Aristotle’s “Natural Slave” (Pol. 1.8) “We may...say that wherever there is the same wide discrepancy between two sets of human beings as there is between mind and body or between man and beast, then the inferior of the two sets, those whose condition is such that their function is the use of their bodies and nothing better can be expected of them, those, I say, are slaves by nature. It is better for them...to be thus ruled and subject.”

12 Aristotelian Teleology and Slavery  Human Purpose is Happiness and Self-Sufficiency (Eudaimonia, Autarkeia)  Oikos > Polis. Oikos Management Presupposes Slaves (cf. Politics, 1.7)  Just Wars and the Acquisition of Slaves (Politics, 1.8)

13 “It is part of nature's plan that the art of war...should be a way of acquiring property; and that it must be used both against wild beasts and against such men as are by nature intended to be ruled over but refuse; for that is the kind of warfare that is by nature right.” Politics, 1.8

14 Reliability as Historical Evidence?  Anti-Banausicism  Polis According to Aristotle  Alexander and the Cosmopolis?

15 Culture and Oppression? Adorno and the Frankfurt School

16 “The general concept which discursive logic has developed has its foundation in the reality of domination.” M. Horkheimer and T.W. Adorno, The Dialectic of Enlightenment

17 Aristotelian Binaries and the Origins of Orientalism

18 Edward Said and the Challenge of Orientalism “Taking the late eighteenth century as a very roughly defined starting point Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as a corporate institution for dealing with the Orient--dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.” ~ E. Said, Orientalism

19 Mahmud Ahmad al-Sayyid 20 th -century Arab nationalist and intellectual “Yes, we slur Gustav Le Bon; we disdain Shakespeare; we are contemptuous of Dante, despise Voltaire, and moreover, we dissociate ourselves from their world….They are the enemies of true humanity and the clerics of the horrendous school of imperialism.”


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