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Nova tellus

versión impresa ISSN 0185-3058


ALVAREZ SALAS, Omar. Intellectuals and Poets in the Presocratic Age: Dialogue and Polemics. Nova tellus [online]. 2010, vol.28, n.2, pp.23-67. ISSN 0185-3058.

In this study I set out to show how the ideological interaction found in Archaic Greece was subject to a competitive dynamics involving both the carriers of traditional poetic lore and the practitioners of a new kind of profane research about nature and the causes of phenomena, i.e., the Presocratic thinkers. As it is showed here, the search for excellence on every field in competition with others was a natural trend of the Greek man (compare Homer Il. VI, 208) that became an official institution in the άγωνες (athletic, literary, artistic and oratory contests) and that also functioned as a mechanism for personal and professional affirmation in activities of eminently intellectual character such as science and philosophy. I will show especially how these experts in a new field of knowledge -among which I will refer here to Xenophanes, Parmenides, Empedocles and Heraclitus- opposed each other and the traditional sages (mainly poets like Homer, Hesiod and Simonides) in a real or virtual debate aimed not just at persuading the audience of the qualitative superiority of their explicative model (which would make it objectively preferable to any other), but mainly at disparaging his adversaries' intellectual validity along with their projects. It will be underlined as well how this polemical dynamics involved not just specialists in a narrow sense, but also dilettanti whom our modern frame of mind would exclude as qualified or pertinent speech partners in the specialized debate, even if they were equally involved in making their opponents' doctrinal statements seem wrong, or rather as flagrant lies.

Palabras llave : Intellectuals; poets; Presocratic thinkers; research; contests; competition; polemics; ideology.

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