The Paradox of Political Philosophy: Socrates' Philosophic Trial [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 53 (4):936-936 (2000)
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Plato's dialogues are masterpieces of philosophy and literature. This insures their place in the firmament of human achievement, but it also makes their interpretation difficult. For example, does the literary artifice contribute to the philosophic argument? If it does, how does it do so and how are we to judge its contribution? Much of modern interpretation of Plato's dialogues focuses on the logical strength and direction of the philosophical arguments. One reason for this is that here we have something we have means to evaluate; we can determine, for the most part, what the arguments are, whether they are consistent, and how much they demonstrate. Here we seem to stand, more or less, on a philosophical terra firma. Yet the contribution of Plato's literary artifice remains, for such interpretive efforts, a philosophical terra incognita precisely because there seem to be no evident, objective standards by which to judge this contribution.



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