The Socratic Turn: Knowledge of Good and Evil in an Age of Science. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. ix + 217 pp. $39.95. isbn 9780812247800 (hbk).The Socratic Turn begins with a meditation on an impasse in contemporary political theory. Political science aspires to the standards of method and rigor found in the hard sciences, which are ‘reductive’ insofar as they posit as real only the constituents and causes of physical things. These do not include characteristics such as justice and nobility, yet political discourse is compelled to make claims concerning them. Sebell tells us that we are compelled to turn to the thought of the ancients, specifically Socrates, as portrayed in the Phaedo. For in this dialogue we encounter him imprisoned by the polis on the grounds of having acted unjustly, wondering whether there can be a scientific account of the situation in which he finds himself. For Socrates as for the contemporary political theorist, the prevailing model of scientific explanation does away with purpose. Sebell, following Socrates, insists that a causal account of a political reality such as imprisonment that makes no appeal to purpose must be incomplete and unsatisfactory.Sebell neglects theories of emergence and the persistence
Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought – Brill
Published: Apr 12, 2018
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