In this article, I approach some phenomena seen predominantly on social-media sites that are grouped together as cancel culture with guidance from two major themes in Plato’s thought. In the first section, I argue that shame can play a constructive and valuable role in a person’s improvement, just as we see Socrates throughout Plato’s dialogues use shame to help his interlocutors improve. This insight can help us understand the value of shaming people online for, among other things, their morally reprehensible (...) views. In the second section, I argue that it is required for the proper functioning of democratic institutions that some views be excluded from the public sphere, which follows some Platonic ideas from the Laws. In neither case do I argue that this approach is good in an unqualified sense or even ultima facie good. However, I maintain that these important insights from Plato’s dialogues illuminate crucial aspects of how we should think about cancel culture. (shrink)
This article investigates how Plato thinks we secure necessary motivational conditions for inquiry. After presenting a typology of zetetic breakdowns in the dialogues, I identify norms of inquiry Plato believes all successful inquirers must satisfy. Satisfying these norms requires trust that philosophy will not harm but benefit inquirers overall. This trust cannot be secured by protreptic argument. Instead, it requires divine intervention—an extra-rational foundation for rational inquiry.
Η παρούσα διατριβή πραγματεύεται τη σχέση που συνδέει την μυθική σύνθεση και την διαλεκτική μέθοδο στο πλατωνικό έργο. Οι περισσότεροι μελετητές, βασιζόμενοι στις ποιητικές κριτικές του Πλάτωνος στην Πολιτεία, υποστηρίζουν ότι ο φιλόσοφος εξορίζει την ποίηση και την τέχνη εν γένει, από την ιδανική πολιτεία του, και, κατά συνέπεια, δεν θα έπρεπε ο ίδιος να συνθέτει και να χρησιμοποιεί μύθους. Ενάντια σε αυτή τη θεώρηση, επιχειρώ να δείξω, αφενός, ότι ο Πλάτων διακρίνει δύο είδη ποιήσεως· το ένα το υιοθετεί, το (...) άλλο το εξορίζει. Στην πρώτη περίπτωση, η ποίηση είναι ωφέλιμη, διότι καθιστά αρμονικές και ενάρετες τις ψυχές των πολιτών, τρέφοντας στον κατάλληλο βαθμό το ενδιάμεσο ψυχικό τμήμα, δηλαδή το θυμοειδές, και συναρμόζοντας το με το ανώτερο, ήτοι το λογιστικό. Στη δεύτερη, είναι επιβλαβής, επειδή ενσπείρει σε αυτές τη δυσαρμονία και τη διαφθορά, ενδυναμώνοντας υπερβολικά την υποδεέστερη ψυχική δύναμη, που είναι το επιθυμητικό. Βάσει της ανωτέρω διάκρισης, υποστηρίζω ότι τα πλατωνικά μυθολογήματα συνιστούν πρότυπα της απλής και ωφέλιμης μυθολογίας και ότι η χρήση τους αποσκοπεί στην εγχάραξη της αρετής στις ψυχές των αναγνωστών/ακροατών τους. Εισηγούμαι, επιπλέον, ότι ο μύθος, ως πλατωνική σύνθεση, εμφανίζεται μετά την εισαγωγή της θεωρίας της ανάμνησης και της υποθετικής μεθόδου στον Μένωνα, γεγονός που καταδεικνύει ότι η λειτουργία του πλατωνικού μύθου είναι, θεμελιωδώς, συνυφασμένη με την πλατωνική μέθοδο. (shrink)
This paper is about: a) the model of friendship bonds Plato presents to us through his character, Socrates; b) the kinds of friendship bonds Plato tried to create with his students and wanted his students to create when they returned home; c) the friendship bonds lovers of Plato’s dialogues have created with each other for 2400 years; and d) the bonds that those who want to imitate Socrates should create with all of their fellowcitizens. Such bonds are critical for sustaining (...) non-authoritarian societies. Since 2016, Westerners have become more aware of the need of intellectuals to develop these bonds. (shrink)
This paper has three major aims. The first is to defend the hypothesis that Aristotle’s lost work Protrepticus was a dialogue. The second is to explore the genres of ancient apotreptics, speeches that argue against doing philosophy and show the need for protreptic responses; our exploration is guided by Aristotle’s own analysis of apotreptics as well as protreptics in his Rhetorica. The third aim is to restore to the evidence base of Aristotle’s Protrepticus an apotreptic speech that argues against doing (...) Academic philosophy, evidence that was incorrectly excluded by Ingemar Düring in 1961. (shrink)
This book plumbs the virtues of the Homeric poems as scripts for solo performance. Despite academic focus on orality and on composition in performance, we have yet to fully appreciate the Iliad and Odyssey as the sophisticated scripts that they are. What is lost in the journey from the stage to the page? -/- Readers may be readily impressed by the vividness of the poems, but they may miss out on the strange presence or uncanniness that the performer evoked in (...) ancient audience members such as Plato and Aristotle. This book focuses on the performer not simply as transparent mediator, but as one haunted by multiple stories and presences, who brings suppressed voices to the surface. -/- Performance is inextricable from all aspects of the poems, from image to structure to background story. Background stories previously neglected, even in some of the most familiar passages (such as Phoenix’s speech in Iliad 9) are brought to the surface, and passages readers tend to rush through (such as Odysseus’s encounter with Eumaeus) are shown to have some of the richest dramatic potential. Attending to performance enlivens isolated features in a given passage by showing how they work together. (shrink)
The Republic is widely recognized to be Plato’s masterpiece, but for centuries it has been the subject of much debate. Is it about the ideal state, or the soul, or art, or education, or something else altogether? Interpretations have been many and various, for two main reasons: studies have tended to concentrate on parts of this very long dialogue to the exclusion of other parts; and some of the opinions expressed in the dialogue are routinely regarded as being those of (...) Plato himself. This analysis treats the dialogue as a dialogue, a conversation between the characters presented in it, and examines the dialogue in its entirety. The result is a holistic interpretation making sense not only of the dialogue as a whole, but also its parts. Each character is a paradigm representing an aspect of the central theme of the dialogue (apparent good), and it is because of what they represent that the conversation takes the course that it does. (shrink)
The author makes the case that Plato is engaged not only in thinking but also, and more important, in doing¿that what we do with the knowledge is crucial, because it can determine the meaning and purpose of our own life. She saw that he was not merely engaging in rational philosophical discussion, but that the dialogues of Plato, especially up to the Republic, embody the Socratic exhortation for each individual to "take care for the soul." The dialogues therefore embody both (...) a rational philosophy and a system of spiritual/religious principles and doctrines whose purpose is to lay out¿in a public forum¿the path a true disciple needs to take to have a personal and direct experience of spiritual illumination, or enlightenment. (shrink)
For most of the twentieth century, interpreters of Plato took little interest in the dramatic aspects of the dialogues, assumed Plato's teachings were directly expressed by their leading speakers, and sought to understand prima facie absences and inconsistencies among apparent teachings through a developmental picture of Plato's thought. Rarely did they explain why Plato occasionally used philosophical characters as different from each other and from Socrates as Parmenides, Timaeus, and the Eleatic Stranger, leaving Socrates present but largely silent. Nor did (...) they address why, having returned Socrates to leadership in the "late" Philebus, Plato eliminated him altogether in favor of an Athenian Stranger in the .. (shrink)
Reads the frame of Plato’s Symposium and analyses this dialogue’s humor and literary form with a view to the philosophical import of such means of expression. Argues that the frame introduces the Symposium as an over-the-top parody of Platonic dialogue. Multiple layers of reporting and the leitmotif of mirror-imitation points the reader to the futility of such forms of reception.
Plato’s dialogues are self-defined as works of mimetic art, and the ancients clearly consider mimesis as working naturally before reason and beneath it. Such aview connects with two contemporary ideas—Rene Girard’s idea of the mimetic basis of culture and neurophysiological research into mirror neurons. Individualityarises out of, and can collapse back into our mimetic origin. This para-rational notion of mimesis as that in which and by which all our knowledge is framed requires we not only concern ourselves with Socrates’s arguments (...) and distinctions, but also see how the dramatic interaction of the characters is working (or not) on/in the characters, and consider how watching the interaction, hearing the parables and myths, and thinking through the arguments and interactions is meant to effect us. That Plato creates mimeses means he aims at passional conversion not merely argumentative worth, since mimesis aims to (and does) work on the passions. (shrink)
Comment, Socrate, personnage historique et citoyen notoire de l’Athènes, est-il devenu une fiction littéraire dans les dialogues de Platon? Serait-il une réaction, assez étrange, au refus de socrate d’écrire? Quoi qu’il en soit, peu après la mort de Socrate, fait son apparition un nouveau genre nommé Socratikoi logoi. Outre Platon d’autres écrivains ont donné de telles compositions en dialogue: Eschine de Sphattos, Antistene, Aristipe, Bryson, Cebes, Criton, Euclide de Megara, Phaidon. Est-ce que les dialogues de jeunesse de Platon sont autre (...) chose que les plus réussies Socratikoi logoi. La thématique de ces dialogue en manière socratique est la démonstration savoureuse que l’interlocuteur de Socrate, malgré le fait qu’il semble savoir beaucoup de choses, il ne sait, en fin de compte, rien. Presque tous les jeunes de l’entourage de Socrate avaient emprunté cette technique de Socrate et dialoguaient avec les citoyen d’Athènes, faisant de Socrate un nom notoire, tout en l’exposant aussi à la haine de ceux qu’il avait directement humilié et que ses disciples avaient humilié. Cette technique de montret au savant qu’il ne sait rien; a enchanté les disciples qui ont inventé ultérieurement Socratikoi logoi. Souvent, Platon lui-même, en choisissant des enjeux impossibles dans ses dialogues de jeunesse (la définition d’une vertu) crée des Socratikoi logoi. (shrink)
In this essay, it is first argued that there are several important motivations for considering as wholly legitimate the question concerning the presence of Socrates in Plato’s work. After sketching how reason in Plato’s dialogues is generally portrayed as embedded in the soul as a whole, I then apply these insights in arguing that this relation between character and thinking should inform our understanding of Plato’s Socrates as well. Socrates is present in the texts because reason, according to Plato, is (...) dependent on both dialogue and character. This is not to say, however, that the character of Socrates is philosophy incarnate, or that the reader is supposed to ‘become’ Socrates; rather, Socrates constitutes an irreducible element in philosophy, and correspondingly, the reader comes to relate to philosophy by relating to the Socrates of the dialogues. Finally, I illustrate the thesis, and its fecundity, by focusing on an issue in the Phaedrus. (shrink)
Plato wrote dialogues, and he praised dialectic, or conversation, as a suitable style for fruitful philosophical investigation. His works are great literature; and nodoubt this quality derives much from their form as dialogues. They also have definite philosophical content; and an important part of this content is their dialecticalepistemology. Dialectic is part of the content of Plato's philosophy. Can we reconcile this content with his literary style? I shall examine and sharpen the sense of this problem by referring to four (...) passages from different works of Plato: Parmenides 132b-c, Protagoras 351-2, Sophist 248-9, Republic 592. In these passages we can distinguish a main position, which represents what it is natural to label Platonism, from a line of thought which diverges from that position and yet also seems authentically Platonic. I argue that the solution to this tension lies in the notion of dialectic as a tentative and exploratory method of philosophy. This view of dialectic is in some conflict with Plato's official account of the method as guaranteed to deliver fundamental truth; but that conflict presents one more version of the phenomenon which I am exploring. The theory of dialectic provides philosophical support for the method of dialogue. That is how philosophy and literature are linked in Plato's pursuit of truth. (shrink)
Plato’s character Socrates is clearly a sophisticated logician. Why then does he fall, at times, into the most elementary fallacies? It is, I propose, because the end goal for Plato is not the mere acquisition of superior understanding but instead a well-lived life, a life lived in harmony with oneself. For such an end, accurate opinions are necessary but not sufficient: what we crucially need is a method, a procedure for ridding ourselves of those opinions that are false. Now learning (...) a method is a very different business from learning a set of ideas. It requires not just study but practice, and practice is precisely what Plato’s dialogues, thanks to the layer of irony between author and protagonist, make possible. If we have a predisposition for detecting and are interested in resolving conflicts within a set of beliefs—if, that is, we instinctively posit logical consistency as a desideratum in life—then we stand to learn, when we read the dialogues, not only what to think but also, and far more importantly, how to think. (shrink)
Plato's dialogues are usually understood as simple examples of philosophy in action. In this book Professor Rowe treats them rather as literary-philosophical artefacts, shaped by Plato's desire to persuade his readers to exchange their view of life and the universe for a different view which, from their present perspective, they will barely begin to comprehend. What emerges is a radically new Plato: a Socratic throughout, who even in the late dialogues is still essentially the Plato (and the Socrates) of the (...) Apology and the so-called 'Socratic' dialogues. This book aims to understand Plato both as a philosopher and as a writer, on the assumption that neither of these aspects of the dialogues can be understood without the other. The argument of the book is closely based in Plato's text, but should be accessible to any serious reader of Plato, whether professional philosopher, classicist, or student. (shrink)
The ontological distinctiveness of a work of art, which consists, among other things, in the fact that it creates its own universe, does not preclude a work of art from occasionally pointing beyond the unity of this very universe. This may take place in a direct way, say, when a statement that occurs within the context of the aesthetic universe created by the author is intelligible if it is attributed to the author herself, but not within the aesthetic universe. The (...) parabases delivered by the chorus in Old Comedy are a well-known example, and, since the transgression of illusions has a special affinity to the nature of the comical and the direct contact with the audience was expected at this point, they are aesthetically warranted. (shrink)
Much has been written on Plato’s use of the dialogue form, and his complete avoidance of the usual philosophical treatise or lecture format. I will summarize some familiar points before giving my own view.
This lively and accessible book focuses on the philosophy and argument of Plato's writings, drawing the reader into Plato's way of doing philosophy and the general themes of his thinking. It discusses Plato's style of writing: his use of the dialogue form, his use of what we today call fiction, and his philosophical transformation of myths. It also looks at his discussions of love and philosophy, his attitude towards women, and towards homosexual love. It explores Plato's claim that virtue is (...) sufficient for happiness and touches on his arguments for the immorality of the soul and his ideas about the nature of the universe. (shrink)
Limits of the Conversation about Forms. Types of Knowledge and Necessity of Forms in Plato's "Parmenides". - Forms (ideas) are among the things that Plato is serious about. But about these things he says in his "Seventh Letter": "There neither is nor ever will be a treatise of mine on the subject." (341c, transl. J. Harward). Plato's statement suggests the question, why one does not and never can do justice to the Platonic forms by means of a written text about (...) the forms. Another big question of Plato research is whether the conversations documented in the Platonic dialogues are also affected by this verdict. This paper aims to provide, as far as possible, newly substantiated answers to these two questions. To this end, the systematic limits of the discussion about forms, which are particularly evident in Plato's dialogue "Parmenides", are examined in eight steps: First, two types of knowledge are presented that play an important systematic role in Plato's philosophy with regard to the limits of conversation: knowledge-how (practical knowledge) and knowledge-that (propositional knowledge) (I). Then the Socratic model of these two types of knowledge is interpreted, which is drafted in the tenth book of the "Republic". This model uses the example of bridle, bridlemaker and rider to explain the primacy of practical knowledge and the limits of propositional knowledge (II). Subsequently, it will be shown how the dialogues "Republic" and "Parmenides" are connected with each other in content and form (III). The gradation of the two types of knowledge, which is indicated by the motifs of the bridle and the horse on the image level of the "Parmenides", proves to be the structure that systematically underlies the structure of the entire dialogue (IV). It also makes clear why the conversation about the forms in the first part of the "Parmenides" has to fail (V). The assumption that the two parts of the "Parmenides" express two different types of knowledge in dealing with forms is supported by the results of a logical analysis of the last defence of the acceptance of forms (135b-c). This analysis shows why, for reasons of principle, it is impossible to speak adequately about forms (VI). Forms have the function of being presuppositions of 'talking about something'. Thus forms are always presupposed in conversation when one talks about them, and thus elude appropriate discussion in conversation (VII). That this is not only a methodical insight of the Platonic Parmenides, but can also be attributed to Plato himself, is demonstrated by the concluding reinterpretation of the central sentence of the critique of writing in Plato's "Seventh Letter". It will become apparent that, contrary to the now widespread view of the representatives of the Tübingen school, philosophical and also good philological reasons speak for the fact that Plato related his criticism only to the communicability of forms through treatises, i.e. tract-like writings (VIII). (shrink)
This book attempts to bridge the gulf that still exists between 'literary' and 'philosophical' interpreters of Plato by looking at his use of characterization. Characterization is intrinsic to dramatic form and a concern with human character in an ethical sense pervades the dialogues on the discursive level. Form and content are further reciprocally related through Plato's discursive preoccupation with literary characterization. Two opening chapters examine the methodological issues involved in reading Plato 'as drama' and a set of questions surrounding Greek (...) 'character' words, including ancient Greek views about the influence of dramatic character on an audience. The figure of Sokrates qua Platonic 'hero' also receives preliminary discussion. The remaining chapters offer close readings of select dialogues, chosen to show the wide range of ways in which Plato uses his characters, with special emphasis on the kaleidoscopic figure of Sokrates and on Plato's own relationship to his 'dramatic' hero. (shrink)
In this ambitious and highly original study, McCabe presents an intricately structured argument designed to demonstrate Plato’s concern with fundamental issues of rationality and personhood. In doing so, she pursues themes announced in her Plato’s Individuals and in Form and Argument in Late Plato, a collection she co-edited with Christopher Gill. The development of her position via consideration of the philosophical importance of characterization and the dialogue form in the Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman, and Philebus leads her to focus in particular (...) on Plato’s depiction of his predecessors. These include, firstly, the Theaetetus’s Protagoras and Heraclitean flux theorists and the Sophist’s Parmenides and materialist giants, all “mean-minded opponents” whose views threaten the very possibility of rational inquiry. Refutation of them, accordingly, is Plato’s means of establishing certain basic principles of reason. (shrink)
This book is a rereading of Plato's early dialogues from the point of view of the characters with whom Socrates engages in debate. Socrates' interlocutors are generally acknowledged to play important dialectical and dramatic roles, but no previous book has focused mainly on them. Existing studies are thoroughly dismissive of the interlocutors and reduce them to the status of mere mouthpieces for views which are hopelessly confused or demonstrably false. This book takes interlocutors seriously and treats them as genuine intellectual (...) opponents whose views are often more defensible than commentators have standardly thought. The author's purpose is not to summarise their positions or the arguments of the dialogues in which they appear, much less to produce a series of biographical sketches, but to investigate the phenomenology of philosophical disputation as it manifests itself in the early dialogues. (shrink)
How does Plato view his philosophical antecedents? Plato and his Predecessors considers how Plato represents his philosophical predecessors in a late quartet of dialogues: the Theaetetus, the Sophist, the Politicus and the Philebus. Why is it that the sophist Protagoras, or the monist Parmenides, or the advocate of flux, Heraclitus, are so important in these dialogues? And why are they represented as such shadowy figures, barely present at their own refutations? The explanation, the author argues, is a complex one involving (...) both the reflective relation between Plato's dramatic technique and his philosophical purposes, and the very nature of his late philosophical views. For in these encounters with his predecessors we see Plato develop a new account of the principles of reason, against those who would deny them, and forge a fresh view of the best life - the life of the philosopher. (shrink)
Ce livre met le doigt sur l'un des paradoxes les plus profonds parce que les plus anciens de la culture occidentale : dans un même mouvement, les femmes se trouvent exclues de la rationalité, et l'âme n'est pensée qu'à l'aide de métaphores féminines. Cette lecture des textes classiques est un voyage au coeur de la culture occidentale où s'enracine un questionnement de la différence des sexes.
The principle of performative contradiction. On the epistemological significance of the dialogue form in Plato's "Euthydemus". - In this study, an analysis of the section 285d-288a of Plato's "Euthydemus" shall show two things: (1) The sophistic model of a world in which there is no contradiction, in which every linguistic utterance is true and every action correct, has no semantic inconsistencies, but can only be rejected with the help of the principle of performative contradictions. (2) It is precisely these performative (...) contradictions that make it necessary for Plato to philosophize not in treatises but in dialogues; in other words, that the philosophical relevance of the Platonic form of dialogue can be seen, among other things, in the fact that - in contrast to philosophical forms of representation such as the treatise, the essay, and a henology as reconstructed and represented by the Tübingen School - it permits the representation of performative reflections and performative contradictions. (shrink)
The characters in Plato's Socratic Dialogues and the sociocultural beliefs and assumptions they present have a historical dramatic setting which ranges over the last quarter of the fifth centuryb.c.—the period of activity of the historical Socrates. That this context is to an extent fictional is undeniable; yet this leaves open the question what the dramatic interplay of (mostly) dead politicians, sophists, and other Socratic associates—not forgetting Socrates himself—signifies for the overall meaning and purpose of individual Dialogues. Are we to assume, (...) with a recent study, that Plato is entirely concerned with his contemporary world and is, as it were, borrowing his characters from the fifth century, or does the fiction reveal something of his real involvement in the values and debates of the recent past? The aim of this paper is to argue that a detailed study of the characterization and dramatic structure of one particular Dialogue,Laches, strongly suggests that Plato is using a perceived tension between past and present to generate not only a philosophical argument but also a commentary on the cultural and political world of late fifth-century Athens and in particular Socrates’ position within it. (shrink)
Acknowledging the powerful impact that Plato's dialogues have had on readers, Jill Gordon shows how the literary techniques Plato used function philosophically to engage readers in doing philosophy and attracting them toward the philosophical life. The picture of philosophical activity emerging from the dialogues, as thus interpreted, is a complex process involving vision, insight, and emotion basic to the human condition rather than a resort to pure reason as an escape from it. Since the literary features of Plato's writing are (...) what draw the reader into philosophy, the book becomes an argument for the union of philosophy and literature—and against their disciplinary bifurcation—in the dialogues. Gordon construes the relationship of Plato's text to its audience as an analogue of Socrates' relationship with his interlocutors in the dialogues, seeing both as fundamentally dialectic. On this insight she builds her detailed analysis of specific literary devices in chapters on dramatic form, character development, irony, and image-making. In this way Gordon views Plato as not at all the enemy of the poets and image-makers that previous interpreters have depicted. Rather, Gordon concludes that Plato understands the power of words and images quite well. Since they, and not logico-deductive argumentation, are the appropriate means for engaging human beings, he uses them to great effect and with a sensitive understanding of human psychology, wary of their possible corrupting influences but ultimately willing to harness their power for philosophical ends. (shrink)
The popular question why Plato wrote dramatic dialogues, which is motivated by a just fascination and perplexity for contemporary scholars about the unique form of the Platonic texts, is confused and anachronistic; for it judges the Platonic texts qua philosophical texts in terms of post–Platonic texts not written in dramatic dialogic form. In comparison with these, the form of Platos early aporetic dialogues is highly unusual. Yet, in its contemporary milieu, the form of Platonic literature is relatively normal. Dramatic dialogue (...) was the most popular form of Attic literature in the late fifth and fourth centuries. This explains why Plato wrote dramatic dialogues. (shrink)