Justice and the banning of the poets: The way of hermeneutics in Plato's republic

Review of Metaphysics 60 (4):755-778 (2007)


Interpretations of Plato’s consideration of poetry often see his position either as a rejection or an admittance of only a certain kind. This article offers a more complex analysis: questions concerning the nature of justice and poetry should be taken as mutually illuminating inquiries. This constitutes Plato’s hermeneutics which shows how understanding poetry ideally effects a metanoia (new understanding) that requires the harmony between ethical deliberation and narrative self-understanding. The dialogue is a mimesis of this process, and the conclusion in Book X does not represent Plato’s final position but the trajectory of the dialogue when such a metanoia is incomplete.

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Todd Mei
University of California, Berkeley

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