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Who Were The Street Philosophers?

Miriam frequently refers to the street philosophers. For example, in The Deadliest Fever, she mentions encountering them in the agora:

The heat had drained out of the afternoon. The agora was awake again with the squabbles of pigeons and the harangues of street philosophers; hucksters; impromptu orators; and those peddling watered fig juice, boiled elephant beans, and baskets of fish (buzzing with flies).

Miriam likely agreed with her contemporary, Dio of Prusa, a Greek orator. Scathing in his condemnation of street philosophers, he accused them of “gathering at street corners and alleyways…[to] play on the credulity of lads and sailors…stringing together rough jokes and much gossip and badinage that reeks of the marketplace.”

A more modern view, with Socrates in mind, speaks in praise of the street philosopher for engaging the public in questions relevant to the human experience, including the power structure. This view is more likely to speak in opposition to academic philosophers for restricting the discourse to questions that protect their own control of the discipline.

But you don’t have to read academic philosophy or listen to street philosophers. All you have to do to escape the problems of the human condition is pick up a copy of The Deadliest Fever. Just click here.


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