Dionysus Lyseus Reborn: The Revolutionary Philosophy Chorus

Philosophy Today (forthcoming)
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Having elsewhere connected Walter Otto’s interpretation of Dionysus as a politically progressive deity to Huey P. Newton’s vision for the Black Panthers, I here expand this inquiry to a line of Otto-inspired scholarship. First, Alain Daniélou identifies Dionysus and Shiva as the dancing god of a democratic/decolonizing cult oppressed by tyrannical patriarchies. Arthur Evans sharpens this critique of sexism and heteronormativity, concluding that, as Dionysus’ chorus is to Greek tragedy, so Socrates’ circle is to Western philosophy. I thus call for the creation of hybrid Dionysian-Socratic revolutionary philosophical chorus, modeled on Dionysus Lyseus (from -lysis), wielding philosophical analysis to loosen injustice’s bonds, as a vanguard of social justice. I find a handbook for this chorus’ creation in Euripides’ Bacchae, whose Dionysus is an ally of immigrant women, overthrower of Theban patriarchy, and international revolutionary. Finally, I offer a contemporary example of a such a chorus, namely the Birmingham Philosophy Guild.
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