Platonic Errors: Plato, a Kind of Poet

Platonic Errors: Plato, a Kind of Poet

Platonic Errors: Plato, a Kind of Poet

Platonic Errors: Plato, a Kind of Poet

Synopsis

While the dramatic approach to Plato's dialogues has become popular over the last decade, little attention has been paid to the poetic quality of Plato's writing, and the received view of Platonic philosophy still depends on an unpoetic and largely literalist reading of the dialogues. The authors of this volume focus on the text of selected dialogues to identify the thread that unifies each of them from a literary point of view. The conclusions they reach in practicing this kind of reading are diametrically opposed to the largest stream of Platonic scholarship and show the fallacy of important metaphysical, epistemological, political, and ethical positions frequently attributed to Plato.

Excerpt

Let us begin with a prefatory question: why publish anything more on Plato? After two thousand and more years of commentary, this becomes both a more and a less: it is a more acute, pressing question, but it is less often asked. Unfortunately, we have no clear answer to publish. The best we can do is to tell a story.

We cannot fully vouch for the story that follows. Although its source is authoritative, there is still some room to doubt the story's historical authenticity. However, in an age when historical authenticity is widely considered to be the primary fiction of a now questionable ideology, this should not be much of a bother. In any case, we are quite certain that there is truth in what follows and that the careful reader will find it. We offer it as a preface. As a story, and with regard to the prefatory question, it will do as fine a job as any.

Once upon a time, on a day dark and drear were born into this world two brothers, twins, separated at birth from both their mother and each other by hospital administrators. It being the essence of any sort of administrator to do things without any acknowledged reason, it is not possible to ask why this separation was ordered. There was a policy; it was followed. They were each given up for adoption and thenceforth lived their lives in complete ignorance of their heritage and their ties of blood. These two came into the world shrouded in mystery, for no record exists of their lineage except for the barest of hints (their footprints were later found to be mirror images) that they might be descended from a long-lost tribe of Scandinavia. Legend has it that this tribe was nomadic, being moved not by external threats or the attraction of greener pastures but by the strange restlessness of their own nature, as if they were never quite at home on the face of this earth. After having wandered northward into the frozen wastes, beyond the ken of civilized tribes, their fate remains, to this day, unknown. Some have believed, however, that out of this wilderness some returned to quietly assimilate themselves into other tribes. This reintegration was not as a people, however, but as individuals, one at a time. Still, their characteristics as a people . . .

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