Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

The Perils of Uglytown develops a cultural concept that gets explored first in a series of chapters on Plato’s dialogues and then in studies of early modern authors and artists ranging from L. B. Alberti to Shakespeare and Rembrandt. The concept, which I call structural misanthropology, is a variation on Claude Lévi-Strauss’s notion of structural anthropology. In Part I, “Misanthropology...

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1. A Polar Model of Culture Change: Introduction to Structural Misanthropology

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pp. 1-12

The creature becomes the creator of the creation in which it is a creature. This magical or miraculous transformation can occur only if the creature disavows, or remains ignorant of, its act and power of creation and continues to think of itself as the creature, not the creator, of the creation.
For example, we human beings create our gods, our cosmos, our laws...

Part I. Misanthropology in Plato’s Dialogues

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2. The Discourse of Pleonexia: Thucydides and Plato on the Politics of Communication

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pp. 15-30

The Greek word logos means “word,” but it also means a lot of other things. In Plato’s dialogues, for example, its range of denotation includes conversation, speech, story, and saying. An epigram or proverb can also be a logos. So can particular arguments or processes of arguing. In the most general sense, a person’s logos or argument can be equivalent to what we...

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3. Dying Angry: The Wrath of Socrates in Plato’s Phaedo

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pp. 31-49

The gods must be crazy if they think Socrates is doing them a favor just before he dies by offering them a toast and going out like an epic or tragic hero, a confection of the poets—going out like one of those supermen he had been compared to in this and other dialogues: Theseus, Hercules, Achilles, Odysseus. For as Paul Friedlaender points out, what he offers to...

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4. More Than a Talking Head: Socrates and Kephalos in Republic 1

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pp. 50-93

Kephalos is old and rich and lives in the Piraeus. He may be a resident alien from Syracuse and he may be a weapons-maker. I emphasize the may because whether or not these suggestions are true of the “historical” Kephalos, the Republic itself gives us no warrant to assume them.1 Only the information contained in the first sentence appears in the...

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5. The Perils of Uglytown: Structural Misanthropology in Plato’s Republic

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pp. 94-132

The genealogy of misanthropy is most compactly and directly described by Protagoras in his Great Myth, or makrologia (Protagoras 320c–328d). He divides human adaptation into two phases, both of which he derives from the consciously directed productive processes of technē. First humans domesticate the cosmos by filling it with gods to whom they...

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6. Adeimantus and Glaucon

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pp. 133-152

A particular vision of the All sends the desire of many of Socrates’s interlocutors soaring upward like a rainbow toward a plot of gold, a pot of god, which occupies both an extratextual and intertextual place. The trajectory of desire arcs toward the golden age of pre-Solonian aristocracy and toward its fantasy image in the golden race that dwells in a familiar...

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7. Four Virtues in the Republic: (1) Wisdom

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pp. 153-168

I begin these chapters on the virtues in the Republic—wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice—by recycling some comments I made years ago in a study of Plato’s Timaeus and Critias. I wrote there that the polis Socrates designs in the Republic with the help of his interlocutors is intended as a dystopia, and that the best statement of its purpose I had ever encountered...

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8. Four Virtues in the Republic: (2) Courage, The Well-Born Lye

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pp. 169-179

When Socrates introduces the discussion of courage, he proposes looking into both what it is and where “it’s situated in the city” (429a). Glaucon has no problem with the where. He easily assents to the proposition that to find courage in the city we should not look “to any part other than the one that defends it and takes the field on its behalf.” And he agrees with Socrates...

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9. Four Virtues in the Republic: (3) Temperance

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pp. 180-191

Sōphrosynē: temperance, moderation. In the common as well as Socratic understanding, sōphrosynē is the virtue of collective and individual self-moderation, the virtue that guarantees the structural unity of a diverse and hierarchic community. The subjects or agents of this virtue are not only individuals but also the classes to which they belong. But etymology...

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10. Four Virtues in the Republic: (4) Justice

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pp. 192-203

After the account of sōphrosynē brings the three classes into harmonious relation, the account of justice analytically discloses the basis in each class that makes the harmony possible. This is at least the way it is presented in the worse, weaker, or more harmonious logos. In this logos, the political hierarchy—and by implication its psychic counterpart—appears to be getting...

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11. Apprehension in the Timaeus: Plato’s Nervous Narrator

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pp. 204-212

The Timaeus and Critias are linked together as a single speech event. Its four interlocutors are Socrates, Timaeus, Critias, and Hermocrates. Their discussion responds to an account Socrates gave the previous day of the city described in The Republic. Timaeus holds forth on the creation of the cosmos and the human being. Critias follows with the story of the fall of...

Part II. Misanthropology in Early Modern Culture

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12. Cybernetic Alienation: Prosthetic Strategies in Alberti, Leonardo, Castiglione, and Machiavelli

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pp. 215-231

Because my title is a tad crunchy, I’ll begin by translating its key terms, starting with prosthesis. In both ancient Greek and Latin, prosthesis means the addition of a letter or syllable, usually at the beginning of a word. For example, the Greek word pros can mean “to, toward, in addition to,” and the Greek word thesis means “setting, placing, arranging.” If you put...

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13. Collecting Body Parts in Leonardo’s Cave: Vasari’s Lives and the Erotics of Obscene Connoisseurship

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pp. 232-251

My topic in this chapter is the portrayal of Leonardo da Vinci in Giorgio Vasari’s Le Vite de’ Piú Eccellenti Pittori Scultori ed Architettori (The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects). The Lives was first published in Florence in 1550 and reprinted eighteen years later in a greatly expanded version. Vasari took an idea common in his time, the idea of the renaissance...

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14. Prospero’s Humiliation

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pp. 252-268

Welcome to a Guarian interpretation of The Tempest. In other words, what you’re going to hear me say about Prospero is that he’s like someone who lost his job in Manhattan and was forced to raise his family on Long Island, where he lived in humiliation for twelve years without a kitchen sink until the Apple gave him another break. When the play starts, he’s still...

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15. The Drama of Competitive Posing: Portrait Plots in Hals and Rembrandt

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pp. 269-292

Twelve figures gather around a silly little table in a great big room. Their geniality, their enthusiasm, is infectious. These are the officers of the Saint Hadrian Militia Company in Haarlem, painted in 1627 by Frans Hals. They want you to enjoy the playfulness with which they pretend to be serious as they hold their poses. Some pretend not to be posing. Like the...

Notes

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pp. 293-308

Index

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pp. 309-324