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Sallis on Deuteros Plous: The Philosopher as Voyager


Among the recurrent themes of John Sallis’s Plato interpretation, the Socratic deuteros plous or “second sailing” occupies a major place. First treated by both Plato and Sallis in the Phaedo, the “second” acknowledges the impossibility for humans of a first voyage that would disclose the causes of all things in their originality. This essay is divided into four sections: (1) Sallis’s reflections on the Phaedo, in which Socrates calls eikē phuro, “random mixing,” his only method; (2) his incorporation of Derridean themes into his reflections on deuteros plous, leading to his insights into a destabilizing in the very nature of logos; (3) his treatment of deuteros plous in Chorology, where he attests to the closing of access to a “first” beginning; and (4) his treatment of a nature in Force of Imagination and Topographies that remains inaccessible in its “first” form but occurs as immense and monstrous. In the conclusion, I return these interpretive developments to another of Sallis’s guiding themes.

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