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Title: The reception of Greek thought in American conservatism since 1945
Author: Bloxham, John Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 318X
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines appropriations of ancient Greek thought in modern American conservatism from World War II to the second Iraq War. It questions the depth of conservatives' engagement with antiquity and explores how contemporary concerns have influenced modern interpretations of ancient texts. It also examines how the application of these interpretations has reinforced and invigorated conservative critiques of modernity. Chapter One looks at the reception of Greek thought after World War II, when different factions joined together to form the modern conservative movement. Chapter Two examines two European immigrants whose thought influenced the right in the 1950s and 1960s: Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin, who both engaged more deeply with Greek thought than their immediate predecessors. Chapter Three investigates the origins of neoconservatism in the 1960s and 1970s. Whereas earlier conservatives had been attracted to Platonic absolutism, neoconservatives were drawn to Aristotle when developing a conservative social science. Chapter Four evaluates conservative critiques of higher education in the 'Culture Wars' of the 1980s. During this period, the 'Great Books' approach, with its emphasis on 'western civilization', came to be viewed as elitist. A number of conservative polemicists sought to restore the former 'Great Books' focus, but the apogee of this reaction came with Allan Bloom's Plato-inspired The Closing of the American Mind (1987). In Chapter Five, the focus shifts to foreign policy debates in the 1990s and 2000s, when antiquity was used both as a rhetorical device to paper over irresolvable conflicts and in a genuine effort to theorise problematic issues. This thesis uses tools from reception theory and intellectual history to assess the decisions of modern appropriators - what they used, adapted or omitted - within the context of broader social and political shifts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available