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Contemporary Encounters with Ancient Metaphysics$
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Abraham Jacob Greenstine and Ryan J. Johnson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474412094

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474412094.001.0001

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Odysseus’ Changed Soul: A Contemporary Reading of the Myth of Er

Odysseus’ Changed Soul: A Contemporary Reading of the Myth of Er

Chapter:
(p.30) Chapter 3 Odysseus’ Changed Soul: A Contemporary Reading of the Myth of Er
Source:
Contemporary Encounters with Ancient Metaphysics
Author(s):

Catherine Malabou

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474412094.003.0003

Catherine Malabou’s “Odysseus’ Changed Soul: A Contemporary Reading of the Myth of Er” examines the political and ontological meaning of Odysseus’ choice of a private life in the Myth of Er of Book X of Plato’s Republic. In this Myth, when it is Odysseus’ turn to choose the paradigm of his next life, he picks the life of a private person who minds his own business. This unexpected choice, echoing the philosopher’s return to the Cave in Book VII, gives a model for deconstructing sovereignty without assuming total impotency. Departing from Agamben’s discussions of the homo sacer, Malabou links together the departures and returns of Odysseus, Socrates, and Er. Malabou casts Socrates as the anti-Bartleby, who by means of φρόνησις‎ simultaneously rejects tyranny and complacent impotency.

Keywords:   Socrates, Odysseus, Myth of Er, Plato’s Republic, Agamben, Life, Impotentially

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