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Philosophy in Dialogue

Plato’s Many Devices

Scott, Gary Alan

Publication Year: 2007

Traditional Plato scholarship, in the English speaking world, has assumed that Platonic dialogues are merely collections of arguments.  Inevitably, the question arises:  If Plato wanted to present collections of arguments, why did he write dialogues instead of treatises?  Concerned about this question, some scholars have been experimenting with other, more contextualized ways of reading the dialogues.  This anthology is among the first to present these new approaches as pursued by a variety of scholars.  As such, it offers new perspectives on Plato as well as a suggestive view of Plato scholarship as something of a laboratory for historians of philosophy generally.

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii

We would like to express our appreciation for all of the editorial, production, and marketing staff at Northwestern University Press for their professionalism and dedication in the production of this volume. The...

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pp. ix-xxxii

Questions concerning Plato’s many and varied devices arise almost immediately upon beginning to read one’s first Platonic “dialogue.” Just what kind of work is a “dialogue,” and how do such works communicate...

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1. Plato's Book of Images Nicholas D. Smith

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pp. 3-14

Plato’s Republic is a book of images. Its most famous image, perhaps, is the image in which he has Socrates compare all human beings to prisoners in a cave. But the Republic is also the locus classicus of that most...

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2. "To Say What Is Most Necessary": Expositional and Philosophical Practice in Thucydides and Plato Phil Hopkins

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pp. 15-40

Recent scholarship has explored the purposes of the aporetic dimensions of Plato’s dialogues, and this focus on “method” has opened the dialogues to subtle and productive readings. Much of it also recalls a set...

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3. Medicine, Philosophy, and Socrates’ Proposals to Glaucon About Γυμναστιϰή in Republic 403c– 412b

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pp. 41-81

Plato’s dialogues contain many references to Greek medical practice and medical tradition. Some scholars have even supposed that Plato portrayed Socrates in many of the dialogues as extending and reinterpreting...

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4. Know Thyself: Socrates as Storyteller

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pp. 82-110

Though Plato’s expertise as both a philosopher and a dramatic literary stylist is commonly acknowledged, his skillful use of narrative framing techniques has not received significant scholarly attention.1 This omission...

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5. Homeric Μέθοδοϛ in Plato’s Socratic Dialogues

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pp. 111-129

Does Socrates have a method? Does Plato have a method in the deployment of his “Socrates become beautiful and new”?1 These are urgent questions not only to those of us who are concerned about how the...

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6. Of Psychic Maieutics and Dialogical Bondagein Plato’s Theaetetus

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pp. 130-151

The conversation recounted in Plato’s Theaetetus, it seems, almost did not happen. Indeed, one might say that the conversation among Socrates, Theodorus, and Theaetetus about what knowledge itself is almost miscarried...

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7. Plato’s Different Device: Reconciling the One and the Many in the Philebus

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pp. 152-173

So says Protarchus toward the beginning of Plato’s Philebus. His statement may appear to be merely a passing comment, but actually, when understood broadly, it sheds light on the whole dialogue. Different kinds...

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8. Is There Method in This Madness? Context, Play,and Laughter in Plato’s Symposium and Republic

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pp. 174-192

Where there is madness in Plato, method lurks. In its modern guise, method is designed to establish philosophy as a science by determining procedures in advance that ensure objectivity. Modern method permits...

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9. Traveling with Socrates: Dialectic in the Phaedo and Protagoras

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pp. 193-211

In this essay, I argue that Socratic or Platonic1 dialectic is not a method that follows rigid structures as is suggested by, for example, the model of the elenchus.2 Although the Greek word...

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10. In Plato’s Image

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pp. 212-237

Plato’s images are among the most powerful and alluring ever contrived: the cave dwellers of the Republic sit in shackles before the shadows cast on the cave wall, prevented from turning their heads toward the real...

Appendix: Dramatic Dates of Plato’s Dialogues

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pp. 239

Works Cited

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pp. 241-251


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pp. 253-261

Notes on the Contributors

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pp. 263-264

E-ISBN-13: 9780810162204
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810123540

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1