Modern Consciousness and the Exilic-Utopian Imagination in the Hellenic World: Sophocles and Plato

  • Mihai I. Spariosu
Part of the Modernism and … book series (MAND)


The ancient Hellenic world is another place where the exilic-utopian imagination blossoms forth. I shall have to defer, for another occasion, an extended analysis that would trace the development of this imagination from the Homeric epic to Hesiod to the Presocratics to Greek drama to Plato and Aristotle to the Hellenistic period. Suffice it to say that it has the same double register that we have encountered in the Near-Eastern narratives: on the one hand, we have an exilic-utopian imagination that derives from and reinforces a mentality of power; and on the other hand, we have the kind that turns away from power and moves toward an irenic mentality. Here I can only briefly record the presence of this double register in the works of two very influential Hellenic authors: Sophocles and Plato.


Binary Opposition Liminal Space Ideal City True Philosopher Epic Poetry 
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  1. 4.
    Hans Vaihinger (1911), Die Philosophie des Als Ob: System der theoretischen, praktischen und religioesen Fiktionen der Menschheit auf Grund eines idealistischen Positivismus, Berlin, translated into English by C.K. Ogden as The Philosophy of As If: A System of the Theoretical, Practical and Religious Fictions of Mankind (1924) London. For a full discussion of the ludic aspects of Vaihinger’s philosophy of als ob, see Spariosu (1989), Dionysus Reborn: Play and the Aesthetic Dimension in Modern Philosophical and Scientific Discourse, Ithaca, N Y: Cornell University Press, 246–258. Like Socrates, Vaihinger makes a distinction between the “as if” cognitive method of scientific and philosophical fictions and aesthetic/poetic fictions in terms of serious and useful play: aesthetic fictions are entertaining ludic constructs, the utility of which is dictated by their scientific and philosophical counterparts.Google Scholar

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© Mihai I. Spariosu 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mihai I. Spariosu
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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