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The Sleep of Reason: Erotic Experience and Sexual Ethics in Ancient Greece and Rome [Paperback]

Martha C. Nussbaum , Juha Sihvola

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Book Description

July 1 2002 0226609154 978-0226609157 1
Sex is beyond reason, and yet we constantly reason about it. So, too, did the peoples of ancient Greece and Rome. But until recently there has been little discussion of their views on erotic experience and sexual ethics.

The Sleep of Reason brings together an international group of philosophers, philologists, literary critics, and historians to consider two questions normally kept separate: how is erotic experience understood in classical texts of various kinds, and what ethical judgments and philosophical arguments are made about sex? From same-sex desire to conjugal love, and from Plato and Aristotle to the Roman Stoic Musonius Rufus, the contributors demonstrate the complexity and diversity of classical sexuality. They also show that the ethics of eros, in both Greece and Rome, shared a number of commonalities: a focus not only on self-mastery, but also on reciprocity; a concern among men not just for penetration and display of their power, but also for being gentle and kind, and for being loved for themselves; and that women and even younger men felt not only gratitude and acceptance, but also joy and sexual desire.

Contributors:
* Eva Cantarella
* Kenneth Dover
* Chris Faraone
* Simon Goldhill
* Stephen Halliwell
* David M. Halperin
* J. Samuel Houser
* Maarit Kaimio
* David Konstan
* David Leitao
* Martha C. Nussbaum
* A. W. Price
* Juha Sihvola

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From the Inside Flap

Sex is beyond reason, and yet we constantly reason about it. So, too, did the peoples of ancient Greece and Rome. But until recently there has been little discussion of their views on erotic experience and sexual ethics. The Sleep of Reason brings together an international group of philosophers, philologists, literary critics, and historians to consider two questions normally kept separate: how is erotic experience understood in classical texts of various kinds, and what ethical judgments and philosophical arguments are made about sex? From same-sex desire to conjugal love, the contributors demonstrate the complexity and diversity of classical Greek and Roman sexuality.

About the Author

Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. She is the author of numerous works, including Women and Human Development, Cultivating Humanity, and Upheavals of Thought.

Juha Sihvola is a professor of history at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He is the author of Decay, Progress, and the Good Life? and Hesiod and Protagoras on the Development of Culture, and the editor of Ancient Scepticism and the Scepticist Tradition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Sex eludes rational control, and yet, for that very reason, it is constantly reasoned about. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Needed Background Dec 2 2007
By Harry W. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The moral understanding of the Greek and Roman world has a real application in our time. It is not that we should emulate their beliefs, it is that we need to understand their beliefs. Much of the New Testament is written to Greek and Roman people. When Paul, or others, use generic words such as indecent, unclean, immoral, or such, most people think of the meaning of the word in today's culture. Until we truly begin to understand the culture, especially the moral culture, of the first century; we cannot begin to understand the message as it would have been understood in that cultural setting. The book, The Sleep of Reason" provides this understanding. This is a well written and thought provoking book.

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