Originally published by Routledge in 1988, this pioneering collection of essays now features a new preface and updated bibliography by the editor, reflecting the most significant developments in Plato scholarship during the past decade.
PLATO’S Protagoras is composed of three distinct frames. The outer frame consists in Socrates’ brief discussion with an unnamed companion. The remainder of the Protagoras is willingly narrated by Socrates to the companion, from memory of course, and apparently right after the main action. The inner frame consists in Socrates’ dialogue with Hippocrates. Roused before dawn by the impetuous young man, Socrates leads Hippocrates to reflect on the wisdom of his enthusiastic desire to study with Protagoras. This is a classic (...) and successful little example of Socratic dialogue. He then takes Hippocrates to meet Protagoras; the bulk of the dialogue—call it the innermost frame—consists in Socrates’ exchanges with Protagoras. Hippocrates does not utter a word in this part of the dialogue, though it is initiated at his request and seems undertaken by Socrates for his benefit. (shrink)
Where Friedrich Schleiermacher left off, Christopher Bruell has dared to set forth. Schleiermacher was the last thinker about Plato to present an order in which the dialogues should be read, on the assumption that an author as careful as Plato must have arranged his diverse works in an intentional order. In 1839 the philologist Karl Friedrich Hermann transformed Schleiermacher’s order of exposition, as intended by Plato, into an order of development of Plato’s thought. Ever since, Platonic scholars have expended more (...) effort in arguing about the order of the dialogues than in anything else. (shrink)
In book Ten of the Laws, Plato's Athenian Stranger sets out the out lines of an argument of the sort that effectively dominated thinking for several millennia about the political role of religion. A polis that is to be free from faction and free for the right development of character requires a shared understanding of the human good and of the virtues of soul that are its components; religion provides that understanding in a way that connects up the human good (...) with the nature of the whole; as the function of government is to support civic peace and a flourishing citizenry, it must support the means thereto, namely, a civic religion; and effective support, in turn, requires state-enforced prohibitions against publicly expressed disavowals or corruptions of that dogma. Not just any dogma will do, of course, and the Stranger devotes a good deal of energy to setting out the principles of the new religion. (shrink)
Listening represents a welcome contribution to the now substantial body of recent literature on Phaedrus. In the book's seven chapters, Ferrari discusses various parts of the dialogue and offers many helpful points along the way. For example, Ferrari's remarks are good on the controverted question as to whether the lover in the palinode "uses" the beloved, as are his observations about the struggle between the three parts of the soul. Ferrari persuasively points out that each part of the soul really (...) represents a way of life, a possible human type. Ferrari offers the novel and probably correct view that the question as to the authenticity of the speech attributed to Lysias is intended ironically by Plato to parallel the question as to whether the "demythologizers" are right to pursue the historical origins of myths. In his last chapter Ferrari surveys various approaches to the famous critique of writing, opting for a modified version of the view that the critique is meant to express a serious distrust of writing, that Plato thought he had discovered a way of writing that avoided the thrust of critique, and that the spoken word ultimately remains superior. Ferrari thus positions himself against Burger's and Derrida's interpretations. Ferrari rightly sees that the critique of writing engages the major issues of the dialogue and ought not be severed from them. (shrink)