For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Aristocrat, and The Community -
Two Philosophical Dialogues
  • Nicholas J. Pappas
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Aristocrat, and The Community - . Two Philosophical Dialogues
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In two philosophical essays that provide a treatment of "causes" and the act of political founding, the characters debate questions of democracy, leadership and authority; rights, privileges and responsibility; the individual and the community.  In their debates, they highlight and explore apparent contradictions and savor ironic twists of logic. The style is that of a Platonic dialogue; the language is concise, pointed, and fun.

About the Author

Nicholas J. Pappas, author of several books with Algora, graduated with honors in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago and earned a Law degree at Harvard University. He has written over 100 philosophic dialogues as well as many short stories and poems.

About the Book
"Aristocrat” and “The Community” are dialogues that take place among friends through the course of a night. “Aristocrat” is concerned with what it means to want to rule, with the comparison of aristocracy to democracy, and with duty. The friends...
"Aristocrat” and “The Community” are dialogues that take place among friends through the course of a night. “Aristocrat” is concerned with what it means to want to rule, with the comparison of aristocracy to democracy, and with duty. The friends begin by touching upon excellence, aristocracy’s traditional claim to rule. They soon come to question whether there are in fact but two true claims to rule — force, or a system of belief. In addition they ponder their commitment to “the cause,” a potentially transpolitical cause. “Aristocrat” attempts to answer several “whats” — what is “the cause,” what does it involve, and what does it mean to serve.

“The Community” attempts to demonstrate a “how” — how to create the new city, a new city determined to set itself apart from the outside world. Discussions of the degree to which quality can be controlled from above, and debates over the degree of control versus freedom that would make the city an ideal place to live, are interwoven with a concern for viability — represented by the Bank, whose interests it seems must always be taken into account. Is the creation of an ideal community an effort that is doomed to be utopian?

Introduction

More than ten years ago, I left my role as a lawyer in a large firm and began a period of searching and writing. After some experimentation, I found that the best vehicle to convey my disparate thoughts was the dialogue. I wrote my first dialogue, “Architect” (published in Controvert, or On the Lie by Algora...

More than ten years ago, I left my role as a lawyer in a large firm and began a period of searching and writing. After some experimentation, I found that the best vehicle to convey my disparate thoughts was the dialogue. I wrote my first dialogue, “Architect” (published in Controvert, or On the Lie by Algora Publishing in 2008), with a great deal of passion. It discusses what it means to value trusting human relationships above intelligence and the other virtues of the mind. The dialogue form allowed me to get at the question from several angles and to bring it out into as much fullness as my ability allowed. 

In my dialogues the characters have somewhat unusual designations — Director, Aristocrat, Chef, and Student, for example, are the characters in “Aristocrat.” Why so? In thinking about dialogues, I naturally thought of Plato. His dialogues are filled with famous historical personages, who presumably represented specific types whose characters and personalities were generally known at the time. Could I do the same thing, using famous people of my time or of the generation before me? In a globalizing world where each person has a different range of knowledge and experience, it might be difficult to identify such telling examples. Should I just make up names for the characters and go with that? That didn’t seem useful. And then it came to me, with a laugh. Instead of using famous names, I would avoid using names altogether. My characters would be cast unabashedly as types — Developer and Investor are characters in “The Community,” for example — but would make themselves individual, real, through their participation in the dialogue.

Director is the one constant character throughout the 100+ dialogues I have written so far. I should note that he is a director in the operational sense, rather than a board member. His name conveys a station in life but also an activity. He in large part does direct the dialogues. 

This book consists of two dialogues, “Aristocrat” and “The Community.” Both take place among friends through the course of a night. “Aristocrat” is concerned, among other things, with what it means to want to rule, with the comparison of aristocracy to democracy, and with duty. The friends begin this dialogue by touching upon excellence, aristocracy’s traditional claim to rule. They soon come to question whether there are in fact but two true claims to rule — force, or a system of belief. But most importantly they come to consider their involvement with and commitment to “the cause,” a potentially transpolitical cause. “Aristocrat” attempts to answer several related “whats” — what is “the cause,” what does it involve, and what does it mean to serve?

“The Community” attempts to demonstrate a “how” — how to create the new city, a new city determined to set itself apart from the outside world. Discussions of appealing means to make the city different and therefore worthwhile are interwoven with a concern for viability — represented by the Bank, whose interests it seems must always be taken into account. Is the creation of an ideal community an effort that is doomed to be utopian?


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Pages 242
Year: 2010
BISAC: PHI035000 PHILOSOPHY / Essays
BISAC: PHI019000 PHILOSOPHY / Political
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ISBN: 978-0-87586-759-5
Price: USD 21.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-760-1
Price: USD 31.95
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• On Awareness: —   A Collection of Philosophical Dialogues
• Controvert, or On the Lie —   and Other Philosophical Dialogues