Greek Bronzes: Statues, Mirrors, and Education

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I explore the cultural and formative, that is also to say: the ethical and political role of the many -- there were said to be thousands upon thousands of them -- life-sized bronzes (portrait statues) once said to have been found in the cities of ancient Greece. There are a number of stories illustrating the interaction and relationship had (or imagined to be had) with statues. Whatever story we choose, and whether we turn to myth or philosophy, I argue that in each case the statue plays an importantly exemplary role. And with Nietzsche as a guide, I suggest that the Greeks encountered such statues as images of themselves in agonistic tension in dynamic and political fashion. Holding a mirror to life, it is the material excellence of bronze that it can reflect the body. The statue would thus be iconic for Greek education (formation/Bildung) as attested by the many references to statues in the literature. The Greek saw and at the same time felt himself -- importantly this argument does not extend to women yet it might be extended to foreigners and to slaves -- regarded by the statue less because he believed the statue divine than because he found himself poised against and reflected in the statue as a living exemplar of what he was (and should be) as a Greek. I argue that the Greeks erected these statues in their public spaces to reflect themselves back to themselves and accordingly statues served the function of formation much more than aesthetic enjoyment or delectation or even contemplation. This phenomenological and historical investigation presents the built world of the ancient Greeks as the modelling of upright form and rectitude (in both ethical and political senses) reflecting on art as the very formal aspect of education/formation in its most literal sense.

Keywords: Ancient Greek Bronze Statues, Portrait Statues, Nietzsche and Education, Nietzsche and Statues, Phenomenological Aesthetics, Political and Civic Pedagogy, Statues as Exemplars, Hölderlin and Statues, Hölderlin and Greece, Mirrors as Corrective Ideals
Stream: Art and Education
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof. Babette Babich

Professor, Philosophy, Fordham University / Georgetown University

Babette Babich is author of Words in Blood, Like Flowers: Philosophy and Poetry, Music and Eros in Hölderlin, Nietzsche, and Heidegger (2007) as well as Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Science (1994; 1996).

Born in New York City in 1956, Babette Babich pursued the biological sciences to begin with and then, dismayed at the explicit prohibition of an inquiry into the definition of life in the discipline of biology (the science of life), she changed her life-path to philosophy at the State University of Stony Brook. She did graduate work in Boston and in Tübingen and Berlin (in Germany), as well as Louvain-la-Neuve (in Belgium). She worked with David B. Allison, Patrick A. Heelan, S.J., William J. Richardson, S.J., Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jacques Taminiaux, Wolfgang Müller-Lauter and, more informally, Jacob Taubes and Paul Feyerabend. She took her doctorate in Philosophy from Boston College in 1987 with a dissertation on Nietzsche’s Perspectival Aesthetics of Truth. Professor Babich has taught at Fordham University in NYC, mostly at the Lincoln Center campus, since 1989 (full professor: 1999). She works in the philosophy of science, emphasizing a continental approach, as well as the philosophy of art including the culture of the museum, postmodern musicology, politics (especially within professional philosophy regarding the analytic-continental distinction), as well as technology and globalization. A three-time Fulbright Fellow, she has lectured widely throughout Europe and North America, in Beijing (for a conference on Heidegger and Nietzsche); and including four public lectures in Weimar in 2004 as a Fellow of the Kolleg-Friedrich-Nietzsche and on Heidegger in Messkirch. She has taught at Georgetown University (Washington, DC), the Eberhard-Karls-Universität (Tübingen), Marquette University (Milwaukee), Denison University (Granville, Ohio), and Boston College. She is Adjunct Research Professor at Georgetown University, Washington, DC and Executive Director of the Nietzsche Society. She is the founding and executive editor of the journal, New Nietzsche Studies.

Ref: A07P0106