Philosophy Workshop-Euree Song-The Ideal and the Reality of the Philosopher-Writer in Plato

6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

In the ancient biographies, Plato is reported to have studied and written poetry before meeting Socrates, which caused him to burn his literary compositions. This anecdote, be it true or not, points to Plato’s critical attitude to poetry, which finds its utmost expression in the expulsion of poets from his ideal state in the Republic. However, it is baffling that Plato, who launches a thorough critique of poetry, is one of the most ‘literary’ philosophers. In addition, he chooses for his philosophical writing the dialogue form which is close to drama, a literary genre most contested in the Republic. My talk addresses this baffling aspect of Plato’s attitude to literature and aims to show that Plato, far from abandoning literature for philosophy, seeks the possibility of a philosophical literature. For this purpose, I first try to construe a possible concept of the philosopher-writer as the ideal writer who is immune to Plato’s critique of poets in the Republic. I then look at Plato’s own practices of philosophical writing in the light of the ideal of the philosopher-writer and show how Plato, as a real philosopher-writer - who, unlike the ideal one, does not know, but aspires to know - represents philosophical inquiry, while discussing which literary techniques he employs to remedy the defects of the dramatic form of his dialogues, by means of the examples of Republic, Phaedo and Symposium.


6 E 16 St Room D 1103

Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served

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