Plato, the Mirror of the World and the Book

Diogenes 45 (178):7-22 (1997)
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Abstract

There is a hint of paradox in opening this collection of texts on the procedures for totalizing knowledge in Antiquity by calling to witness the Platonic dialogues. What might they contribute, besides a critique of Sophistic polymathy, Socrates’ nescience, his way of jumping in and interrupting long discourses, the disconcerting interlude of preliminary questions, and the aporetic collapses? A host of questions does not make a book, much less a library - unless the Socratic stratagem defines some entirely new conditions, or unless Plato's argument authorizes, beyond a program of study, a way of constituting knowledge with its hierarchized elements and the articulations called for by this program. A few remarks are in order here.

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