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Book Reviews Platon. Ph~dre (suivi de La Pharmacie de Platon deJacques Derrida). Translated, introduction , and notes by Luc Brisson. Paris: Flammarion, 1989. Pp. 4o6. NP. Plato. Phaedrus. Translation and commentary by C. J. Rowe. Warminster, England: Aris & Phillips, 1986. Pp. 224. (USA distribution by Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 1986; cloth $37.5o, paper $16.5o. ) In the tiny corner of the literary cosmos occupied by Phaedrus scholarship, the last decade will be remembered as an unusually productive one. In addition to works by the authors under review, substantive contributions were made by R. Burger, G. R. F. Ferrari, C. L. Griswold, M. Nussbaum, S. Rosen, G. Santas, B. S~ve, and T. Szlez~k, among others. The entire second meeting of the Symposium Platonicum (held in Perugia in September of 1989) was devoted to discussion of the Phaedrus. The long list of participants included scholars from Japan, China, Argentina, Romania, the Soviet Union, Australia, and some fifteen other countries. The explosion of work on the dialogue surely signals a willingness on the part of philosophers to take seriously a range of issues previously thought less than completely worthy of philosophical analysis and more suited to reflection from the standpoints of literature and psychology. Among these issues are the nature of sexual desire, love, friendship, and rhetoric. These themes are, of course, explicit in the Phaedrus, though their connection in the dialogue is a source of major puzzlement. More broadly, the marked renewal of interest in the Phaedrus signals interest in problems both concerning the relationship between literature and philosophy, and concerning interpretation. Plato's use of the dialogue form gives rise to both sets of problems, confronting the reader with the task of understanding why Plato wished to express his philosophy in literary form and how literary and philosophical aspects of the text are to be read together. Followers of H.-G. Gadamer and of L. Strauss (though not of them alone, as is suggested by the work of, among others, Nussbaum, M. Miller, and the present author) have long insisted on the importance of integrating the two aspects. The general point seems now more or less accepted across the spectrum in Plato studies (including those by Brisson and Rowe), though significant differences remain as to how specifically one ought to proceed in reading Plato. (Discussion and debates about the issue may be found in C. Griswold, ed., Platonic Writings, Platonic Readings, New York: Routledge, Chapman, and Hall, 1988. ) The problem of interpretation is connected to the problem of Platonic rhetoric (the dialogue form being an exercise in suitably reformed rhetoric), and the problem of rhetoric is connected to that of oral versus written discourse--another famous theme of the Phaedrus. [48t] 48~ JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 29:3 JULY I99I How we read Plato will be connected to how we size up Plato's reasons for writing dialogues, and those reasons will ultimately connect with a conception of what it means to do "philosophy," a conception in turn tied to notions of eros and rhetoric--these are all threads of a single tapestry. The recent popularity of work on the Phaedrus may also have something to do, then, with the fact that the "What is philosophy?" question is also felt with particular force of late, for reasons having something to do with increased sensitivity to the varying legacies of Nietzsche (and his deconstructionist progeny), Wittgenstein, and the pragmatists. One would expect the recent fascination with the dialogue to be followed by the publication of new translations, and the two works under review are among the first of what will no doubt be a growing list (several other English versions are, I understand, underway or planned). The main French translation of the dialogue has since a933 been that of L~on Robin. Controversial in parts and always elegant, it was accompanied by a fine series of notes and a much-cited essay. Luc Brisson's work in the text under review is nevertheless a welcome addition. Brisson's book includes, in addition to the translation, an introduction of fifty-four pages; maps of the areas mentioned or alluded to in the dialogue; a select bibliography of...


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