Plato and the Question of Beauty
Publication Year: 2008
Drew A. Hyland, one of Continental philosophy's keenest interpreters of Plato, takes up the question of beauty in three Platonic dialogues, the Hippias Major, Symposium, and Phaedrus. What Plato meant by beauty is not easily characterized, and Hyland's close readings show that Plato ultimately gives up on the possibility of a definition. Plato's failure, however, tells us something important about beauty -- that it cannot be reduced to logos. Exploring questions surrounding love, memory, and ideal form, Hyland draws out the connections between beauty, the possibility of philosophy, and philosophical living. This new reading of Plato provides a serious investigation into the meaning of beauty and places it at the very heart of philosophy.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Series: Studies in Continental Thought
Preface and Acknowledgments
The question of beauty is the subject of lively discussion and debate today, particularly but not only as it pertains to the arts. Part of the intention of this book is to consider the extent to which Plato, as happens so often, was instrumental in setting the terms of the discussion and debate about beauty as it plays out in the history of western philosophy. ...
This will be a book about the question of beauty in the Platonic dialogues, but as Plato himself will make abundantly clear, the question of beauty cannot be adequately addressed except within a context of a whole host of other issues. Hegel may be the modern philosopher who best articulated the recognition that a consideration of any moderately rich issue as if it stood by itself, ...
1 The Question of Beauty in the Hippias Major
The Hippias Major appears to be one of those many dialogues, often called ‘‘Socratic’’ dialogues or, by a further leap of speculation, ‘‘early’’ dialogues, in which Socrates pursues a given topic with the apparent aim of achieving a definition of the relevant term. ...
2 The Question of Beauty in the Symposium
We face a delicate task in turning now to the Symposium and Phaedrus. On the one hand, we want to pay particular attention to the way the question of to kalon emerges in these dialogues, since that is the focus of the present volume. But on the other, if we simply ignored everything but their references to beauty ...
3 The Question of Beauty in the Phaedrus
As my frequent prefigurative remarks have indicated, the Phaedrus will develop and enrich the many important issues raised but left more or less undeveloped in the Hippias Major and Symposium regarding beauty, its connection to eros, and eventually, its connection to philosophy. ...
4 The Second and Seventh Letters
I addressed in the introduction what many regard as the most vexing question regarding the Letters, the question of their authenticity. The gist of my position is that the issue, quite especially for us in this time of the ‘‘decentering’’ of authorial authority, is less whether the Letters were really written by the one man, Plato, ...
5 The Critique of Rhetoric and Writing in the Phaedrus
In a clear prefiguration of the Kantian notion of critique, the Phaedrus could be said to be in some measure a critique of logos. We have already seen certain aspects of that critique played out in the palinode. It will now be completed in the critique of rhetoric and writing that constitutes almost the entire second half of the Phaedrus. ...