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Reviews405 experience into culture as a whole—and on recognizing the "partial nature of the historical record" (p. 97). Todd's own record is also partial, for she overestimates the "problem" of men in feminism and underestimates the impact of Black and lesbian feminist criticism on American feminism. She speaks unflinchingly but not unquestioningly on behalf of reality, political engagement, women, female experience, and even truth: "Because there is no Universal Truth, it does not mean there is no truth at all" (p. 81). Her program is not merely "strategic" (how weary one becomes of that evasion) but is grounded on a durable, if battered, version of "the enlightenment's individualistic bourgeois liberalism" (p. 135). Ultimately, we can be grateful to Todd's Feminist Literary History for articulating an ethics of feminist literary history which must be accountable to the past, discerning about the present, and responsible to the future. Princeton UniversityEsther H. Schor Platonic Writings/Platonic Readings, edited by Charles L. Griswold, Jr.; xi & 321 pp. New York: Roudedge, 1988, $47.50 cloth, $13.95 paper. Plato writes well. His dialogues display literary as well as philosophical excellences . They are not merely repositories of analysis and argument. Not everything that is of literary value, however, is of philosophical importance. What, then, is the philosophical significance of Plato's literary techniques? A lot of recent Anglo-American work on Plato has attended more or less exclusively to analysis of the philosophical theses and arguments which are found in his text. This is not unwarranted: there is much rigorous thought in Plato and many arguments of great subdety. If Plato did not think that logical analysis and rational argument were ofdie first importance, why did he bother? There is also the evidence (as Kenneth Dorter notes, p. 226) of the importance of analytic studies in Plato's educational programs. It is reasonable to infer that he held diis kind of philosophical activity in the highest regard. To neglect his arguments is to disregard the plain evidence of the texts. Most of the contributors to Griswold's volume believe, however, that the style of interpretation which is usual in Anglo-American studies neglects much that is of great philosophical importance in Plato. What this should mean is that die dialogues are more than, notless than, repositories ofanalysis and argument. Several contributors to the volume seem not to understand this simple point. Thus McKim believes that "mere logic" (p. 42) is not Plato's concern, and Dalfen that "it constitutes a distortion of Plato's intentions and achievement to look 406Philosophy and Literature for objective validity" in his arguments and proofs (p. 215). Few other contributors are as silly as this, but many display some measure of hostility to what they call "analytic" work on Plato. There is an air of bravado about some of these essays: unreconstructed analysts must be made to see that only when Plato is read in the clear light of German hermeneutics can we hope to understand him. But as Terence Irwin sensibly notes, we need to be shown some philosophically interesting results of the new methods of interpretation if we are to be persuaded to take them seriously (p. 199). Griswold's volume largely fails this test. The book thus offers indirect evidence that the orthodox methods of interpretation, when applied to Plato, are reasonably sound after all. The principal contributors to the anthology agree that the dialectical nature of Plato's writings is a crucial part of their philosophical content. All seem to agree that conventional "analytic" work is inadequate. But the alternatives they offer are not often well thought out. Griswold himself, however, in one of the better articles, develops an erudite view of Plato as a philosopher who was urgendy concerned with the very possibility of his own philosophical activity. This is a Plato who is interested in subde issues of metaphilosophy and who converses easily with Hegel and Rorty. But even if Griswold is right, and Plato was interested in these issues, it follows neither that he was interested only in them nor that he was most interested in them. Griswold's metaphilosopher is worth talking about: but in no way does he displace...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 405-406
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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