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The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

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The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby bedwere » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:22 pm

This is a talk given by Sean Gabb at the 2017 meeting of the Property and Freedom Society.

https://youtu.be/sJy31-Drdos?t=7m4s
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby jeidsath » Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:20 am

I enjoyed this, even I don't agree with the throw-away statement towards the end about drugs and the classical world.

I recently listened to the first part of a lecture series on ancient Greek civilization where the speaker began by saying that ancient Greek culture wasn't any better than that of any random human group (because SCIENCE), but that we should study them anyway, because words like democracy come from them, though they didn't have democracy because of slaves and no female suffrage.

It's quite enjoyable to hear the other view. I also enjoy random 18th century essays on the wonder of the Greeks and Latins. There are many many pleasant hours in the classics.
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby daivid » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:37 pm

He is basically saying that we need the Greek and Roman Classics to promote a right wing agenda in the "culture wars". I admit to having a weakness for taking examples from classical history as metaphors to bolster political points but really if you think it essential that your politics gins the authority of the classics it does suggest a lack of confidence in your own views to stand on their feet.

And seriously, to talk of the Greeks as our genetic ancestors is for him BS. He is British speaking to a British audience. The strongest thread of DNA will be from Gauls and Germanic peoples who Greeks would have regarded as inferior barbarians. (Looking at the audience there may have been one of his audience with Indian ancestors but that hardly changes the point)

And he is right the Greeks weren't feminists. Ancient Greeks, judging from what we not of Athenian law and the plays of Meander, in fact had profoundly hostile views towards the position of women that are as alien to Western values as that of Daesh. I don't know what Sean Gabb's views are concerning woman but strongly suspect that your average Ancient Greek would find the difference between his views and that of feminists as trivial and both as absurd as the world portrayed in Lysistrata.
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby bedwere » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:53 pm

The audience is not British but international.
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby daivid » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:07 pm

bedwere wrote:The audience is not British but international.

Well, I took the audience to those who were actually sitting in front of him but if you take his words to mean everyone you can access the you tube video the amount of DNA that can be traced back to the ancient Greeks of his audience is even more miniscule.
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby bedwere » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:12 pm

In any case it is an international audience. The PFS is an international society founded by German professor of economics and philosophy Hans Hermann Hoppe. It is based in Constantinople, where the annual meeting takes place. Participants are invited to come from all over the world.
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby daivid » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:54 pm

bedwere wrote:In any case it is an international audience. The PFS is an international society founded by German professor of economics and philosophy Hans Hermann Hoppe. It is based in Constantinople, where the annual meeting takes place. Participants are invited to come from all over the world.


I had not heard of the Property and Freedom Society or Sean Gabb before watching that video and my quick googling misled me so thanks for the correction.

However, his claim that the Ancient Greeks were the genetic ancestors of his audience remains just as dubious and is symbolic of the wishful thinking that it requires to make the Ancient Greeks supporters of their political ideology (or any other for that matter).
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby ailuros » Tue Oct 24, 2017 4:51 pm

bedwere,

shouldn't you lock this topic, too?
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby bedwere » Tue Oct 24, 2017 4:58 pm

ailuros wrote:bedwere,

shouldn't you lock this topic, too?

If people criticize what the speaker says, there is no ground for locking a topic. That is not what you did.
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby jeidsath » Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:40 pm

Can someone link me to the part of his speech where he makes the statement about genetics or the culture war? I wasn't listening all that carefully, and didn't catch any of that, I'm afraid. The majority of the speech at least, seemed to be simple (sometimes overdone) praise of reading the classics in the original languages.

I looked at his website when I watched this speech, and didn't notice anything objectionable on first glance, except for an argument for using the Latin stress system to read Greek aloud !!

But maybe it's best to deliver a few of these politically tinged discusses over to the Academy. Any political debates on this forum should stick to important and on-topic issues, like whether Alcibiades profaned the Eleusinian mysteries, or whether Julius Caesar's war in Gaul was illegal.
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Re: The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics

Postby daivid » Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:11 pm

jeidsath wrote:Can someone link me to the part of his speech where he makes the statement about genetics or the culture war? I wasn't listening all that carefully, and didn't catch any of that, I'm afraid. The majority of the speech at least, seemed to be simple (sometimes overdone) praise of reading the classics in the original languages.
.

Its the section that starts 35 mins into the youtube video. The bit about cultural wars is 38. Then at 39.30 he gets into why he feels that Classics are immune to this (given my views expressed on other threads you can guess my reaction to how he seems to see the fact that Greek is hard to learn is an advantage :) ) The bit where he talks about "in many case our genetic ancestors" is at 22 mins. "many" is a word that is open to interpretation and it is possible that there are enough actual Greeks in his audience that that statement can be justified. There is a general tendency for those who argue that Western Civilization is based on the Greeks to ignore how the Greeks tended to regard those of "northern European stock" as just as much barbarian as Persians and I may have read more into Sean Gabb's statement than he actually said.

Having replayed the video several times to get the above references I played it several times so I would add that his overstating of the Greeks value is explanation of the richness of what survives from the Greek world as down to something unique to the Greek character. I would suggest that if you combine literacy with free speech human beings a highly likely to produce something like the Greek explosion. His dismissal of the Assyrians is like looking at the works of Stalin and those Russian writers who slavishly imitated Stalin's style and then writing off Russians as a whole.

Of course, the survival of Greek texts is indeed unique. I suspect that if someone discovered a hoard of Punic texts in a cave in the Sahara we would likewise be impressed but there is no real way of telling one way or the other.
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