A passage in Plato’s Laws offers a fresh look at Plato’s theory of poetry and art. Only here does Plato call poetry both mimêsis “imitation, representation,” and the product of enthousiasmos “inspiration, possession.” The Republic and Sophist examine poetic imitation; the Ion and Phaedrus develop a theory of artistic inspiration; but Plato does not confront the two descriptions together outside this paragraph. After all, mimêsis fuels an attack on poetry, while enthousiasmos is sometimes used to attack it, sometimes to praise (...) it. The explanation evidently lies in Plato’s understanding of drama, which in the Laws has grown more precise, from simply the presentation of characters to the presentation of multiple characters engaged in dramatic conflict. (shrink)
Philosophers have recently begun to write about fashion in dress. They acknowledge that philosophy traditionally ignored the subject altogether or else disparaged fashion. They do not observe that those past philosophers who slighted fashion characterized it as mass imitativeness; but in fact that one-sided characterization is what permitted commentators to overlook innovativeness in fashion. Indeed the figure of the foreigner that recurs in philosophical remarks about fashion only makes sense given a reading of fashion as imitative uniformity. The foreigner becomes (...) a deus ex machina accounting for the newness in fashion that the imitative model renders otherwise inexplicable. (shrink)
The Republic rarely speaks of piety; yet religious concerns inform more of its treatment of poetry than readers acknowledge. A pair of tripartite rankings in Book 10 has puzzled interpreters: first the triad Form-couch-painting, then the ostensibly equivalent triad of a flute’s or bridle’s user-maker-imitator. The tripartitions work better together if one recognizes the divinity at work behind Athena’s gifts the flute and bridle. This mythic reading reveals the imitator to stand, yet again, in opposition to the gods; but it (...) also points toward an ambiguity about knowledge that Plato has forcibly excluded from his discussion. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum's Poetic Justice undertakes a defense of the novel by showing it to develop the sympathetic imagination. Three parts of her argument come in for criticism, with implications for other such political defenses. Nussbaum sometimes interprets the imagination practically, sometimes theoretically; the two forms have different effects on deliberation. Nussbaum credits the novelistic tradition with fostering the imagination; her example of Hard Times interferes with establishing this general point. Nussbaum suggests an aesthetic element in literature that produces its effect, (...) but does not succeed in identifying that element so as to preserve the consequences of art while avoiding reductionism. (shrink)
Today Plato's Ion , thought one of his weaker works, gets little attention. But in the past it has had its admirers–in 1821, for example, Percy Bysshe Shelley translated it into English. Shelley, like other Romantic readers of Plato, was drawn to the Ion's account of divine inspiration in poetry. He recommended the dialogue to Thomas Love Peacock as a reply to the latter's Four Ages of Poetry: Shelley thought the Ion would refute Peacock's charge that poetry is useless in (...) a practical world. (shrink)
Two great evaluative questions about The Birth of Tragedy ask how accurate the book is about Greece’s “tragic age,” and how nostalgic it is for that age. Wilamowitz raised the question of accuracy as soon as the book was published, and the issue has never gone away. As for nostalgia, even without accepting extreme versions of the charge, you can still worry that BT portrays Socrates as such a calamity—a monstrosity, and therefore a freakish birth, something that did not have (...) to happen—as to invite the pious wish that he had never come along, and that the tragic age of Greece could have lived a little longer.Both evaluative questions are implicated in a perennial interpretive question: who is Nietzsche’s god .. (shrink)
Today Plato's Ion, thought one of his weaker works, gets little attention. But in the past it has had its admirers–in 1821, for example, Percy Bysshe Shelley translated it into English. Shelley, like other Romantic readers of Plato, was drawn to the Ion's account of divine inspiration in poetry. He recommended the dialogue to Thomas Love Peacock as a reply to the latter's Four Ages of Poetry: Shelley thought the Ion would refute Peacock's charge that poetry is useless in a (...) practical world. (shrink)
Of course there's every difference in the world between my merely saying something and its being so. My claim that I have a toothache is a far cry from the toothache itself. Words are not things: I neither sit in the word ‘chair’ nor eat the word ‘food.’.
Nietzsche's use of metaphor has been widely noted but rarely focused to explore specific images in great detail. A Nietzschean Bestiary gathers essays devoted to the most notorious and celebrated beasts in Nietzsche's work. The essays illustrate Nietzsche's ample use of animal imagery, and link it to the dual philosophical purposes of recovering and revivifying human animality, which plays a significant role in his call for de-deifying nature.
_Menexenus_ is one of the least studied among Plato's works, mostly because of the puzzling nature of the text, which has led many scholars either to reject the dialogue as spurious or to consider it as a mocking parody of Athenian funeral rhetoric. In this book, Pappas and Zelcer provide a persuasive alternative reading of the text, one that contributes in many ways to our understanding of Plato, and specifically to our understanding of his political thought. The book is organized (...) into two parts. In the first part the authors offer a synopsis of the dialogue, address the setting and its background in terms of the Athenian funeral speech, and discuss the alternative readings of the dialogue, showing their weaknesses and strengths. In the second part, the authors offer their positive interpretation of the dialogue, taking particular care to explain and ground their interpretive criteria and method, which considers Plato's text not simply as a de-contextualized collection of philosophical arguments but offers a theoretically reading of the text that situates it firmly within its historical context. The book will become a reference point in the debate about the _Menexenus_ and Plato's political philosophy more generally and marks an important contribution to our understanding of ancient thought and classical Athenian society. (shrink)
This dissertation brings Plato's critique of poetry to bear on the issue of how to read his dialogues. Since antiquity commentators on Plato have debated the extent to which he actually meant the philosophical doctrines in his works; since the early nineteenth century this debate has been complicated by the claim that the dialogues count as literature. To treat them as literature is to hold, in a subtler sense, that Plato does not himself assert what their characters say. ;I therefore (...) categorize this view as a brand of skepticism. Only one sort of attention to the form of the dialogues avoids both this skepticism and its equally undesirable opposite, simple acceptance of the philosophical claims as Plato's own. That alternative is the aporetic reading, according to which one treats the dialogues as open-ended discussions to be continued by the reader. ;I argue that this model of reading arises naturally from the short Socratic dialogues. When pressed to its extreme implication, it turns Socrates' veneration for logical argument into a method of reading that denies all appeals to the author. ;Moreover, a view of reading much like this one can be found in Plato's fullest criticisms of poetry, in the Republic and Phaedrus. There the problem with existing literature turns out to be the context-dependence of its claims: they only mean what they mean because a dramatic character, or a poet, asserts them. The cure lies in a detachment of truth-claims from all conditions of their assertion. ;Like the simpler aporetic model, this prescription to readers turns us away from the person of the author. Skepticism and dogmatism about Plato's dialogues disagree over whether Plato meant the claims in his dialogues; the aporetic model denies the epistemological possibility of that question. It does not state that Plato's authorial intentions cannot be reached, but that reaching them does not count as knowledge. Worse, the endeavor leads away from knowledge. ;This denial of the individual person in the search for knowledge affects more than the debate over the dialogues. It also reveals philosophy's anti-literary self-conception, and its ideal of an impersonal universal voice. (shrink)
Plato is one of the most important figures in Western thought; the _Republic_ is his most important, and most widely studied, work. This GuideBook will steer the reader clearly through this work. _Plato and the Republic_ will introduce and assess: * Plato's life and the background to the _Republic_ * The text and ideas of the _Republic_ * Plato's continuing importance to Western thought Ideal for students coming to Plato for the first time, this GuideBook will be vital for all (...) students of Plato in philosophy, politics and classics at all levels. (shrink)
Plato's _Republic _is perhaps the most significant and important work of philosophy and is Plato's most famous work. No other work has made such an impact on the history of western thought. In this second edition of the highly successful Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Plato and the _Republic_, Nickolas Pappas extends his exploration of the text to include substantial revisions and new material. In addition to the existing text, the chapters on Plato's ethics and politics have been revised and enlarged (...) to include two brand new sections. There is further discussion of Plato on aesthetics including a section of Aristotle's criticism of Plato on beauty. Plato and the Republic, second edition assesses and introduces: Plato's life and the background to the _Republic _The text and ideas of the _Republic _Plato's continuing importance to Western thought Ideal for students coming to Plato for the first time, this GuideBook will be vital for all students of Plato in philosophy, politics and classics at all levels. (shrink)
The Nietzsche Disappointment confronts Nietzsche's recurrent, symptomatic struggles with causal accounts. His explanations of past and future raise high hopes; when they fail they are responsible for profound disappointment.