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The Classic Trilemma of Polis-Ethnos-Cosmos


The Classic Trilemma of Polis-Ethnos-Cosmos

Arnopoulos, Paris (1996) The Classic Trilemma of Polis-Ethnos-Cosmos. In: International Conference on Polis and Culture, International Center of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Research, Olympia, Greece. (Unpublished)

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The vital problem of world affairs is how to resolve the contradictions between political order and cosmic chaos, thus establishing a peaceful coexistence between widely opposing cultures and ideologies. This problem was first conceptualized by the ancient Greeks who discussed and proposed various solutions which have yet to be surpassed.

Although, the miniature world of the city-state (polis), instead of nation-state (ethnos), ultimately succumbed to the external forces of the world at large (cosmos); its ideas and actions are still relevant. The significant correspondence between the Hellenic era and the present makes these particular thoughts of general interest because they may help us understand and resolve our own problems.

This study attributes the classic Hellenic malaise to the agonistic pathology of its people, reflected in the classic trichotomy of:
-political power: separating citizen and foreigner, native and alien;
-economic wealth: distinguishing rich and poor, free and slave;
-biosocial culture: dichotomizing Greeks and barbarians, civil and wild.

The resulting trilemma therefore became how to combine patriotism, nationalism and humanism. The main ideas proposed fall into a Political thesis, Pan-Hellenic antithesis, and Cosmopolitan synthesis.

The hypothesis of this study asserts that the Polis-Ethnos-Cosmos triptych remains a perennial trilemma of the human condition. Thus juxtaposed, the three fundamental identity values (patriotism, nationalism, humanism) can neither be maximized nor extinguished, as many have and still try to do in turbulent periods of global change.

Our present transition from modern to post-modern world is just as dynamic and dangerous as that from the Hellenic to Hellenistic era.
Looking how the Greeks recognized but did not resolve their problems in the past could then contribute to our search for better world in the future. This study does so by reminding us of the ancient wisdom in the everlasting search for local-regional-global coexistence.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Political Science
Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors:Arnopoulos, Paris
ID Code:983197
Deposited By: Danielle Dennie
Deposited On:06 Nov 2017 19:14
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:56


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