Nightingale, Andrea Wilson
Nightingale, Andrea Wilson
Stanford University, Stanford, CA, professor of classics and comparative literature.
Fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Andrea Wilson Nightingale is a professor of classics and comparative literature at Stanford University and the author of volumes that include Genres in Dialogue: Plato and the Construct of Philosophy. The book, which is an investigation of Plato's invention of philosophy, as well as an historical and literary study of Plato, begins by addressing Plato's incorporation of rhetoric and various genres of poetry into his dialogues. Nightingale contends that Plato's "dialogues" with traditional genres are related to his effort to establish a definition of "philosophy." Prior to this time, philosophy indicated a broad sense of intellectual cultivation. By applying this term to his own intellectual pursuits, Plato created a new discipline, which he was then obliged to define and legitimize by matching it against established genres and cultural practices such as rhetoric and sophistic. Between Nightingale's introduction and conclusion are sections titled "Plato, Isocrates and the property of philosophy," "Use and abuse of Athenian tragedy" "Eulogy, irony, parody," "Alien and authentic discourse," and "Philosophy and comedy."
Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy: Theoria in Its Cultural Context continues Nightingale's investigation of ancient Greek philosophy. She shows how a concept of Greek culture has had an impact on modern and postmodern thought and has inspired debate over the relation of theoretical knowledge to political and civil affairs. The publisher's Web site notes that this volume is appropriate for nonspecialists.
Theoria is a ritual journey or pilgrimage from one's home to a site where a festival or rites are observed, including the viewing of sacred objects or images. A theoric pilgrim makes this journey either as an individual or as a delegate representing a city or town. In this manner philosophers in the fourth century BCE also created their private image, which is a role studied by Nightingale in this volume.
The book contains chapters titled "Theoria as a cultural practice," "Spectacles of truth: inventing philosophic theoria," "The fable of philosophy in Plato's Republic," "Theorizing the beautiful: from Plato to Philip of Opus," and "‘Useless’ knowledge: Aristotle's rethinking of theoria." Nightingale ends with her epilogue "‘Broken knowledge’? theoria and wonder."
"Beyond their strictly religious function, the theôria served as a neutral site where differences between Greek cities could be negotiated in a pan-hellenic context," noted Alan Kim on the Notre Dame Philosophical Review Web site. Kim wrote that Nightingale "makes much of the symbolic and psychological stages of the pilgrims' journey, especially the ‘liminal’ experience of crossing from the secular familiarity of his native town, through the space between town and temple, to the sacred dislocation of the religious site itself. The pilgrim undergoes various transformations—perhaps religious, perhaps political or cultural—as a result of the freedom of the journey itself, as well as his exposure to the sacred mystery-objects and theôria from other parts of the Greek world." Kim noted that the return of the pilgrim to his city "represented a moment of risk as much as benefit: along with the required report of the festival could come the contagion of alien notions."
Kim commented on the third chapter, which is "a detailed reading of the motifs of theôria in the cave allegory. This long chapter includes many fascinating and original observations on perhaps the best-known of Plato's literary images." Kim noted that Nightingale's "discussion of Plato's contrast between true, philosophical freedom and the utilitarian philistinism of the ‘banausic’ person … deftly analyzes Plato's rhetorical strategy and the paradox of ‘philosophic rulers [who] are … foreigners in their own city—outsiders who serve the city free of charge."
In reviewing Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy in the Review of Metaphysics, Christopher A. Decaen wrote that "one might study Greek philosophy for some time and never learn that before Plato and Aristotle extended, and to some extent restricted, theoria's meaning to the contemplation of eternal truths, the word originally named a common pilgrimage to and participation in, usually, religious festivals in which the gods, in some mystical sense, were revealed to the participant. The pregnancy of this bit of etymology is obvious, and Nightingale's work delivers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Philology, summer, 2000, David Engel, review of Genres in Dialogue: Plato and the Construct of Philosophy, p. 316.
Ancient Philosophy, fall, 1997, Stephen Halliwell, review of Genres in Dialogue, p. 452; spring, 2006, Mark Shiffman, review of Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy: Theoria in Its Cultural Context, p. 201.
Choice, September, 1996, review of Genres in Dialogue, p. 142; May, 2005, S. Correa, review of Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy, p. 1603.
Classical and Modern Literature: A Quarterly, fall, 2006, Elizabeth Belfiore, review of Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy, p. 219.
Classical Philology, April, 1997, Susan B. Levin, review of Genres in Dialogue, p. 193.
Classical Review, April, 2006, Raphael Woolf, review of Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy, p. 49.
Journal of the History of Philosophy, October, 1997, Joanne Waugh, review of Genres in Dialogue, p. 615.
Philosophical Review, July, 2007, D.S. Hutchinson, review of Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy, p. 482.
Review of Metaphysics, March, 2006, Christopher A. Decaen, review of Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy, p. 668.
Times Literary Supplement, February 24, 2006, M.F. Burnyeat, review of Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy, p. 9.
Notre Dame Philosophical Review Online,http://ndpr.nd.edu/ (May 2, 2005), Alan Kim, review of Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy.