Poetry, Philosophy and Madness in Plato

Res Cogitans 13 (1) (2018)


Plato’s unease with the poets is well-known from his expulsion of them from his city-state in The Republic, where they embody the very inversion of philosophical self-understanding. Philosophy – which is guided by reason, wisdom, and self-control – is here seen to find itself in the highest opposition to poetry inasmuch the latter dangerously provokes desire, pleasure, and madness. Here philosophy is understood as a praxis of reason, establishing an ideal, active, and self-determined homogeneity opposed to poetry, understood as an illusory, passive, and alienated heterogeneity. However, poetry is more positively presented in Phaedrus. Things seem to have been turned upside-down, since philosophy now is presented as a twin brother to poetry, as both originate from god given madness.

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Plato and Inspiration.Robert Edgar Carter - 1967 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 5 (2):111-121.

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