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Questioning Platonism

Continental Interpretations of Plato

Drew A. Hyland

Publication Year: 2004

Given the conception of philosophy held by continental thinkers, and in particular their greater sensitivity to the kinship of philosophy and literature, Drew A. Hyland argues that they should be much more attentive to the literary dimension of Plato’s thinking than they have been. He believes they would find in the dialogues not the various forms of “Platonism” that they wish to reject, but instead a thinking much more congenial and challenging to their own predilections. By carefully examining the works of Heidegger, Derrida, Irigaray, and Cavarero, Hyland points to the tendency of continental thinkers to view Plato’s dialogues through the lens of Platonism, thus finding Platonic metaphysics, Platonic ethics, and Platonic epistemology, while overlooking the literary dimension of the dialogues, and failing to recognize the extent to which the form undercuts anything like the Platonism they find. The striking exception, Hyland claims, is Hans-Georg Gadamer who also demonstrates the compatibility of the Platonic dialogues with the directions of continental thinking.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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p. vii

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p. ix

This book brings together two philosophic interests that have long sustained me: the Platonic dialogues, and so-called continental philosophy. Several of the chapters began as papers that I have delivered here and there over the last several years, and I want to acknowledge and thank my many listeners at those occasions for their astute and...

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pp. 1-15

Imagine that you are Plato. Quite impossible, I know, but I have in mind a much more focused image. Imagine that you are Plato deciding, presumably after long reflection and against the practice and probably the strong advice of your mentor, Socrates, to write in the light of philosophy. I say “in the light of philosophy,” not “write your philosophy,” because, if the Seventh Letter can be...

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1. Heidegger’s Plato

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pp. 17-83

Nietzsche, who is such an important influence on what becomes the tradition of continental philosophy, evidently regarded Socrates throughout his career as a “problem.” In his early Birth of Tragedy, he both severely criticizes Socrates as “the opponent of Dionysus,”1 and therefore the enemy of tragedy, yet at the same time acknowledges in Socrates “the one turning point and vortex of so-called...

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2. Derrida’s Plato

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pp. 85-122

As is clear from my discussion of Heidegger’s interpretations of Plato just completed, my most general objection to Heidegger’s reading of Plato is his failure to take with adequate seriousness the philosophic significance of the dialogue form, his failure genuinely to integrate that significance into his interpretation of Plato’s philosophy. ...

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3. Irigaray’s Plato

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pp. 123-154

Luce Irigaray is one of France’s leading feminist philosophers. Her substantial oeuvre has had an important impact on Continental thinking, not only within feminist circles, but with the psychoanalytic community, the postmodern movement, as well as those interested in the history of philosophy, on which she has commented often and in depth. Although references to and comments...

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4. Cavarero’s Plato

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pp. 155-164

Of the interpreters of Plato we have considered so far, Adriana Cavarero is perhaps the one whose interpretations best exhibit the kind of sympathetic reading I have been espousing. My problem with her work is that she renders these sympathetic and imaginative interpretations only very selectively—with regard to certain of the references in the dialogues to women. For the rest of the dialogues, ...

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5. Gadamer’s Plato

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pp. 165-183

The last Continental philosopher whose interpretation of Plato I shall address is Hans Georg Gadamer. In addressing his work last, I of course take him out of chronological order as well as out of most conceptual orders that one might imagine. After all, as perhaps Heidegger’s most important student, one would expect that a discussion of his work would follow immediately upon that of Heidegger...


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pp. 197-200


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pp. 201-202

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484555
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791461952
Print-ISBN-10: 0791461955

Page Count: 202
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 62386601
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Questioning Platonism

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Subject Headings

  • Plato.
  • Philosophy, European -- 20th century.
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