Review of Metaphysics 45 (1):138-141 (1991)

Glenn Lesses
College of Charleston
Commentators too often have failed to locate Plato's epistemology in a historically sensitive interpretation. Michael Morgan's Platonic Piety makes this charge and seeks to address it by incorporating Plato's attitude toward Greek religion in his reading of Plato's middle dialogues. In particular, he examines the consequences of "human aspiration to divine status". Morgan has two main objectives. First, he wishes to consider how religious assumptions affect Plato's treatment of political, metaphysical, and especially epistemological issues from the Meno to the Phaedrus. Second, through his focus on the notion and setting of religious aspiration Morgan attempts to "treat the historical context as an important consideration that significantly shapes or directs an interpretation". Thus, Morgan sets for himself ambitious, provocative tasks. Nonetheless, even in the early stages of his discussion we hope for Morgan to be more precise about both his objections to current scholarship as well as his own aims. In what specific ways do the best contemporary philosophical scholars neglect historical context? Morgan never makes their shortcomings explicit. Morgan also needs to refine his own objectives. For instance, does his interpretive thesis concern the historical factors that gave rise to Plato's philosophical positions or is it primarily about our understanding of the content of Plato's thought? We require a much fuller account of how Morgan takes the causal origins of belief to be related to matters of content.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1991451110
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