The talk will be held in German.
Thinking in Epochs – Postmodernism and (New) Realism from the Perspective of a Hellenist.
The paper engages with the current widespread sense of an epochal change and it attempts, through diachronic comparisons, to set the present situation in a historical context. From the perspective of Greek studies, one’s view is drawn at once to the second half of the fifth and the early fourth century BC – a period that is characterized not only by a unique level of prosperity and cultural achievement, but also by increasing sophistication in argument and an avant-garde ‘enlightenment’ in the intellectual sphere. The protagonists included the so-called sophists, who developed a ‘postmodern’-sounding epistemology and were extremely successful as political and communications consultants in Athens. Under the pressure of the Peloponnesian War, which was fought with incredible brutality, tensions increased in the social, political and ethical fabric of society (not without cause the word ‘demagogue’, ‘leader [astray] of the people’, seems to have been coined in this period). The Platonic-Socratic reaction to these sociopolitical changes today turns out, once again, to have an astonishingly contemporary relevance.