Rhapsodes of social science : Herodotus' performance of politeic inquiry
Sears, Jonathan M.
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Herodotus' logos represents many examples ofthe relationship between political and paradigmatic authority, and the synthesis ofthese examples in a community characterized by free and equal speech. Herodotus' walkabout narrator sets forth an inquiry into knowledge-seeking he extends the isegoria principle from Athenian politics to the broader world. The History demonstrates (a) various modes of constructing meaning, (b) interacting notions ofhow people have lived and living questions as to how we ought to live, and (c) an investigation ofthe nature and limits ofhuman knowledge. Representing diverse wisdom, publicly and privately discovered and presented, Herodotus sets forth Solon's wise advice and law-making, the capital punishment of the learned Anacharsis, the investigative outrages of Cambyses and Psammetichus' more pious experiments. Their stories challenge and complement their communities' characters - the relative constraint under which the Egyptians and Persians make their investigations, the Scythians' qualified openness and the relative fearlessness and freedom in which the Greeks set forth their inquiries. Setting forth the investigator-storykeeper as a poetic historian, Herodotus shows that history as poetry thwarts natural decay by allowing custom to be reformed in an open milieu, and thus win through and survive. Despite the potential dangers that openness shares with tyranny, Herodotus' inquiry sets up a contest ofworld-views in which it is mutability that openness affords a community that ensures its survival.