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SOSC 2730 (17)
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Chapter 7

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Social Science
SOSC 2730
Lewis Code

CHAPTER 7 NOTES: HELLENISTICABSOLUTISMAND URBANITY 1: THEARISTOTELIAN TRANSITION • transition form hellenic Polis to Hellenistic metropolis and then to theAlexandrian Megalopolis was marked by no sudden changes • both aspects of Hellenistic life become visible in the life and work ofAristotle • thoughAristotle served the rulers of an expanding empire, he never fully understood that human growth demanded a widening as well as a deepening of the whole process of association • Aristotle's discussion of ideal cities went farther in many directions that Plato's • he shared Plato's distrust for change • he “brought something to the discussion of cities something Plato lacked: a knowledge of the immense variety of species and an appreciation of the endless creative manifestations of life itself.” • Aristotle realized that 'purpose' is engrained in all natural processes, not superimposed by man, though purpose no more admits of ulterior explanation than does causality • “To use the word mechanism when faced with the need for recognizing a teleological process is to overlook the fact that machines are themselves exquisite examples of purpose” - pg 184 • lesson of 'controlled growth': ◦ in every biological species, there is a limit to size; equally true of human artifacts ◦ ie: if a boat is too small, it cannot carry cargo; if it is too big, it cannot be handled or moved ◦ with cities: ▪ if a town is too small, it is still a village ▪ if it grows too large, it is no longer a city • its ensuing disorganization keeps it from carrying on a city's functions • “mere increase in size no more signifies improvement”-Mumford pg 185 • “the very dynamism of growth,... only increases the area of possible destruction” • what makes the city in fact one is the common interest in justice and the common aim, that of pursuing the good life • Greek city in the early Hellenic period can be defined as a community that was determined for its own good to remain small ◦ 'the good life' depended on intimacy and small numbers • the synoptic or overall view which enabled the citizen to behold his whole city as readily as he might take in the form and character of a single person greatly differentiated the Hellenic city from the overgrown megalopolis • Aristotle had a huge prejudice against artisans and merchants ◦ defined the Polis as a community of equals, but deliberately excluded the life of artisans and merchants ◦ “for such a life is ignoble and inimical to virtue” -Aristotle pg 186 ◦ “for the gods should receive honor from citizens only” ◦ Importance to city: good life could only be found in novle leisure, which meant someone else must do the work ▪ by keeping the majority of citizens outside of politics, the Polis gave them a license to be irresponsible • prompted traders “to seek inordinate gains, and having people at their mercy, to take advantage of them” - Plato pg 186 • Aristotle on town arrangement and security: ◦ “The whole town should not be laid out in straight lines, but only certain quarters and regions: thus security and beauty will be combined” -pg 187 ◦ ie: twisting streets, etc made it difficult for thieving strangers to get in/out of town • Plato and Aristotle's ideal cities made no provision for continuing and strengthening the creative forces that were the growing Hellenistic cities ◦ they had no vision of a wider Polis, incorporating ideal principles of Cos, Delphi, and Olympia and working them into the generous complexities of an open society • “It needs a whole society to give the symmetry we seek”- emerson pg 188 ◦ individual cities (ie:Athens) could not flourish apart from its neighbours ◦ None of the cities of Hellas could embody the Greek ideal of life without calling upon men and ideas and institutions from outside their cities • “under tyrannous rulers it is safer to pursue the physical sciences than to study human nature society”- pg 188 • Hellenic Polis was arrested by another weakness: ◦ the inability to understand the human contribution of the slave, the industrial worker, the foreigner, and the barbarian ◦ other peoples had much to contribute to the Greeks, and it should have been possible to embrace this without being frowned upon ◦ “That the Greeks never repaired the error of slavery, that some of their best minds could not even admit that it was an error, shows how easily they fell to arrest, how far they fell short even in their concept of democracy of the generically human” - Mumford pg 189 • “When the moment to pass from individual ideation and incarnation to collective embodiment took place, the city, self-infatuated, returned to an earlier form, highly organized and ordered, sanitary, wealthy, even sumptuously beautiful; but sadly inferior to the inchoate Polis of the fifth century in its capacity for creation” -pg 189 • Nothing prospered in the post- hellenic city other than the physical sciences ◦ “even the mind was starved, not for lack of food, but by its being overstuffed with depleted and sterile nutriment” • the museum and the library took precendence over life and experience in the Hellenistic city ◦ collection and classification became the chief avenues of intellectual activity • Knowledge was treated as a substitute for responsible action, not as an instrument for life • After 300 BC (after great expansion that game withAlexandrian era), the Polis no longer was internally strong enough to challenge, the political oppressions, the class divisions, and the irrational sacrifices, the futile war and pillage and destruction, that characterized the ancient city 2: FROM SUPPLE DISORDER TO REGIMENTED ELEGANCE • from the 7 century on, the Greek cities developed along 2 different li
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