Plato on Madness and Philosophy

Ancient Philosophy 31 (1):47-71 (2011)
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In the Phaedrus Socrates says that “the greatest goods” come from madness, and even seems to suggest that philosophy itself is a form of madness. But just how strongly should we understand these claims? I argue that Plato is not claiming that the philosopher is literally mad, in the sense of lacking rational self-control or being possessed by a god. Instead, Plato is appropriating the concept of “madness” and redefining it to refer to a unique state of philosophical cognition.


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Daniel Werner
State University of New York (SUNY)

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