Myth and Philosophy in Plato's Phaedrus

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Cambridge University Press, Jul 9, 2012 - History - 302 pages
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Plato's dialogues frequently criticize traditional Greek myth, yet Plato also integrates myth with his writing. Daniel S. Werner confronts this paradox through an in-depth analysis of the Phaedrus, Plato's most mythical dialogue. Werner argues that the myths of the Phaedrus serve several complex functions: they bring nonphilosophers into the philosophical life; they offer a starting point for philosophical inquiry; they unify the dialogue as a literary and dramatic whole; they draw attention to the limits of language and the limits of knowledge; and they allow Plato to co-opt cultural authority as a way of defining and legitimating the practice of philosophy. Platonic myth, as a species of traditional tale, is thus both distinct from philosophical dialectic and similar to it. Ultimately, the most powerful effect of Platonic myth is the way in which it leads readers to participate in Plato's dialogues and to engage in a process of self-examination.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
Boreas Typhon and the Allegorization of Myth
19
Soul and Eros
44
Forms and Knowledge
88
Tradition and Philosophy
108
The Cicadas
133
Rhetoric and Dialectic
153
Theuth Tharnus and the Critique of Writing
181
The Phaedrus as a Whole
236
Conclusion
259
Bibliography
273
Index of Passages from Plato
295
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Daniel S. Werner is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, New Paltz. His articles have appeared in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Greece and Rome, Ancient Philosophy and International Philosophical Quarterly.

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