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General Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This chapter illustrates the anxieties provoked even today by the rhetorical power of an element in the lexicon as underdetermined as we are claiming is the case for Greek kakos: in the U.S., this anxiety has led to an attempt to develop a ?depravity scale?. It gives some examples, taken from Homer, tragedy and Plato, of the fundamental importance of context for the interpretation of κακς and cognates. If Achilles gave us an idea of what is bad from his heroic perspective, Greek tragedy is a good place to look for who is bad. Plato and Aristotle are decisive moments in the history of philosophical hostility to ?matter?, but at the same time their philosophical positions are shown to be at odds with both an alternative historical tradition and the very materiality of beauty in Plato and Aristotle themselves.

Keywords: Aristotle; Greek kakos; Homer; lexicon; Plato



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