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179 Animal Sacrifice in Plato’s Later Methodology Holly Moore . . . knowledge is not made for understanding, it is made for cutting. —Michel Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” In several of his later dialogues, Plato’s characters take up dialectical inquiries that oscillate between collecting particulars into their broader kinds and articulating those kinds into their subspecies according to a “natural line of cleavage [διαφυὴν]” (Statesman 259d).1 In both the Statesman and the earlier Phaedrus, this second aspect of the dialectical method, the division of kinds, is likened to the everyday practice of animal sacrifice and butchery. In what follows, I address two ways that this analogy can be used to interpret Plato’s later methodology . First, I argue that if we examine this analogy with respect to the details of its cultural practice, we discover evidence that Plato prioritizes the method of collection insofar as division is impossible without it. In addition, however, I also argue that since collection participates in constructing the subject of division as divisible, it, like division, fails to grasp the oneness central to the being of any class it produces. I conclude from this that both of these methods are inadequate and that the image of the sacrificable animal reveals the thoroughly mimetic nature of discursive reasoning. In order to understand the significance of the appeal to animal sacrifice within Plato’s later methodology, we must begin with a study of the Phaedrus, where, in addition to its many allusions to animals, we find the first reference to the method of division as a kind of butchery. We also find there a more complete account of the method of collection, an important aspect of Platonic methodology , which remains, for the most part, only implicit within later dialogues. 11 180 | Holly Moore The Bestiary of the Phaedrus The Phaedrus is full of allusions to animals and humans’ relationship to them. From the singing cicadas (230c, 259a–d) to the straining winged horses of the soul (246a, 253d–e), which is later likened to an oyster trapped in its shell, the body (250c), the Phaedrus is one of Plato’s most zoologically animated dialogues. Of the many creatures that populate Plato’s bestiary, Socrates paints himself as the first. Walking with Phaedrus in the path of the Ilissus river, Socrates is reminded of the myth told of Oreithyia’s abduction by Boreas, but he dismisses discussion of mythological happenings in favor of inquiring into himself, “to know whether I am a monster [θηρίον] more complicated and furious than Typhon or a gentler and simpler creature [ζῷον], to whom a divine and quiet [ἀτύφου] lot is given by nature” (230a).2 Just a short time later, Socrates again underscores his “animal” nature: “For as people lead hungry animals by shaking in front of them a branch of leaves or some fruit, just so, I think, you [Phaedrus], by holding before me discourses [λόγους] in books, will lead me all over Attica and wherever you please” (230d–e).3 As in other dialogues, Socrates is portrayed as strange, and here he becomes an image of the half-breed nature of the human, at once divine and bestial. Not only does Socrates himself appear as an animal in the Phaedrus, he goes on throughout the dialogue to offer a variety of depictions of logoi as animallike , making this relationship one of the more powerful tropes of the Phaedrus. Having listened to Phaedrus’s recitation of Lysias’s speech and offered his own speeches on erotic madness, Socrates turns to reflect upon the art of speechmaking itself, using Lysias’s speech as an example for critique.4 As Socrates famously claims, a good speech “must be organized, like a living being [ζῷον], with a body of its own, as it were, so as not to be headless or footless, but to have a middle and members, composed in fitting relation to each other and to the whole” (264c). Despite its display of many rhetorical techniques, Socrates faults Lysias’s speech for lacking a unifying principle. According to his critique, Lysias’s speech is a monster , having no head and far too many limbs, some of which appear not even to be attached. In contrast, the good speech, like an animal’s body, must have all the right parts in all the right places along with sound relations, or joints, between them. The good logos and the animal’s body share a similarly articulate nature. Moreover, the articulateness of the good speech is derived from the already articulate...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253016201
Related ISBN
9780253016133
MARC Record
OCLC
907092951
Pages
270
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-10
Language
English
Open Access
No
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