Philosophy in Dialogue: Plato’s Many Devices

Traditional Plato scholarship, in the English-speaking world, has assumed that Platonic dialogues are merely collections of arguments. Inevitably, the question arises: If Plato wanted to present collections of arguments, why did he write dialogues instead of treatises? Concerned about this question, some scholars have been experimenting with other, more contextualized ways of reading the dialogues. This anthology is among the first to present these new approaches as pursued by a variety of scholars. As such, it offers new perspectives on Plato as well as a suggestive view of Plato scholarship as something of a laboratory for historians of philosophy generally.The essays gathered here each examine vital aspects of Plato’s many methods, considering his dialogues in relation to Thucydides and Homer, narrative strategies and medical practice, images and metaphors. They offer surprising new research into such much-studied works as The Republic as well as revealing views of lesser-known dialogues like the Cratylus and Philebus. With reference to thinkers such as Heidegger, Gadamer, and Sartre, the authors place the Platonic dialogues in an illuminating historical context. Together, their essays should reinvigorate the scholarly examination of the way Plato’s dialogues “work”–and should prompt a reconsideration of how the form of Plato’s philosophical writing bears on the Platonic conception of philosophy.”Plato studies are now undergoing a transformation and I believe that this collection will be on the forefront of innovative scholarship.” –Robert Metcalf, University of Colorado

One thought on “Philosophy in Dialogue: Plato’s Many Devices”

  1. Dear Sirs,

    I am not sure that it is entirely correct to claim that “Traditional Plato scholarship, in the English-speaking world, has assumed that Platonic dialogues are merely collections of arguments.”

    Perhaps one could rather say that traditional Plato scholarship has MOSTLY FOCUSED on reading the Platonic dialogues AS being collections of arguments. But the question “what is Plato REALLY up to?” has, what I can understand, always been there also, either in an implicit or explicit form; and THAT question is a much broader one, and NOT primarily about philosophical arguments, conclusions, and premises.

    Apart from this small detail, it is, of course, VERY encouraging to see that this work has been presented, and that the “broader” question now gets some real attention. I have not had the chance to take part of your publication yet, but judging from the description above, it should be of utmost importance to serious students of ancient philosophy and literature.

    Best wishes,
    Bo C. Klintberg
    Editor, Philosophical Plays

Comments are closed.