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Title: The Moral Psychology of Sincerity in Fifth-Century Athens
Authors: Mann, Jennifer
Advisors: Ford, Andrew L
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: hyposcrisy
Subjects: Classical studies
Political Science
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The value of sincerity acquires increased importance at moments that put strain on one's rational interest in being sincere, such as the pervasive condition of war and political revolution. As might be predicted, in response to the stress of Athens' domestic and international turmoil in the last third of the fifth century, Athenian texts from this period do spotlight thematic concerns such as the opacity of the human mind or self and the problem of discriminating between sincerity and insincerity in others. This dissertation considers how four fifth-century, Athenian texts engage the politically pertinent theme of sincerity: Thucydides' <italic>History</italic>, Sophocles' <italic>Ajax</italic>, Euripides' <italic>Hecuba</italic> and Sophocles' <italic>Philoctetes</italic> all demonstrate a marked concern with this value. Within each of these works, I look for the embedded assumptions about the constitution of the self and consider how factors within the self are portrayed as impacting an individual's ability to manifest sincerity. Sincerity of self is presented as a product of either reason or emotion: that is, an individual might demonstrate sincerity either as a result of consistent adherence to a consciously worked out code of rational values or through action in accordance with his spontaneous, innate emotional impulses. Central to fifth-century discussions of sincerity, and indeed of all virtues, is whether it is most stably attained through education or through inheritance from noble parents. The primary aim of this dissertation is to determine how fifth-century thinkers conceived of the moral psychology of sincerity, or how they saw the parts of the self as interacting to engender sincerity. Sincerity is a virtue that gains salience at the junctures of human life: the juncture between the interior of the self and the exterior world of human interaction; the juncture between individual interest and group interest; and the juncture between commitment to the interests of private friends and public `friends' (i.e. fellow citizens). One cannot conceive of sincerity in isolation and indeed each of the texts I consider gives significant weight to the role of the surrounding community in the sincerity (or lack thereof) of the individual. As Thucydides' <italic>History</italic> and the <italic>Hecuba</italic> forcefully illustrate, there are conditions in one's surrounding society under which sincerity of self is undesirable or imprudent for the individual. Yet, each of the four texts further demonstrates that to some degree sincerity of self-representation is the necessary foundation for a healthy, functional democratic society.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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