Griswold's book belongs in that tradition of Plato scholarship which insists that the form of a Platonic dialogue as dialogue must be taken seriously in interpreting it. This means that Platonic anonymity, Platonic and Socratic irony and the interplay between words and deeds, among other things, must be taken into account.
Davis aims to rescue the Poetics from its initial appearance as a book merely about the art of poetry understood as imitation, without imposing upon it a "borrowed significance" beyond Aristotle's intention. This involves three major claims: the Poetics is about the fundamental structure of human action, it is also about human reason or thought, and Aristotle's silence about these alleged topics can be explained.
Taking as his "hermeneutic object" the two trilogies of dialogues linked by the Euthyphro, supplemented by his own choice of the Protagoras as an appropriate introduction, Cropsey weaves an interpretative web, whose woof is moderate, relatively straightforward paraphrase, and whose warp is occasional bold imposition of his own preoccupations on slight textual occasions.
The title theme is explored in seven chapters, five of which are revisions of previously published papers. As sketched in the introduction, the central claim is that the dialogues not only always present their explicit themes in a context of "finitude, limitation or negation", but also depict three different responses to such finitude, "domination, submission, or an acknowledgment of the finitude which transforms it into possibility", of which the latter is to be preferred. Moreover, subsequent chapters argue that this mode (...) of presentation is a form of irony which is not merely a literary device or a tactic of political prudence or of pedagogical method, but a reflection of a core tenet of Platonic philosophy, that is, that while the whole has an arche which is in principle intelligible, the finitude and erotic character of human nature render any complete or adequate grasp of that arche humanly impossible. Consequently, the philosophic enterprise, insofar as it is engaged in a necessarily unsuccessful striving for an unattainable goal, partakes of certain elements of tragedy, including the tragic sense that such striving is somehow ennobling. Yet insofar as it yields to the temptation to believe that its goal is attainable, it runs the risk of turning comic in its ignorance of its own limitations. Hence it seems to be self-knowledge about its own finitude which makes the philosophic life finally neither tragic nor comic. (shrink)
Zuckert has written an intriguing book, whether taken in its exoteric form, as indicated by the title and introduction, as a detached and balanced account of the response to Plato of five “postmodern” thinkers, or in its esoteric form, as indicated by the assignment of the three central chapters to Strauss, as an exposition and defense of Strauss’s account of the truth about the human good. Even if her accounts of the other four are, for many readers, the honey on (...) the rim of the cup of bitter Straussian medicine, the honey is no less carefully presented than the medicine. While the focus is on each thinker’s response to Plato, Zuckert gives sufficient background exposition to explain the motivations, contexts, and goals of the return to Plato in each case. (shrink)
Beets keeps company with the Phaedo in two different modes: 69 pages of “philosophical background” and 185 pages in which translation of the text is interspersed with commentary based on the philosophical position articulated in the first part.
Rosen's web is woven out of a warp of laborious textual commentary and a woof of excursuses, which develop three main issues. Two of these concern the Eleatic Stranger's differences from Socrates--on the character of the method of division and on the end of politics. The third concerns the distinction and relationship between technê and phronêsis in politics. Rosen's penchant for scattering the excursuses through the commentary with apparent randomness and his lack of clarity about which of the three--Stranger, Plato, (...) or Rosen--is being assigned responsibility for any particular claim make it difficult to piece together a coherent account of what he wants to say on these three issues. (shrink)
Davis's theme is how philosophy is both partially constitutive of and a model for dealing with certain fundamental tensions at the heart of politics. His mode of commentary involves noticing textual perplexities and using them to shed light on his theme.