Myth and Philosophy in Plato's Phaedrus
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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allegorical allegorical interpretation Aoyog appropriate attempt audience Boreas passage charioteer cicada myth cicada song claim cognitive context contrast deﬁning deﬁnition dialectic discussion divine engage eros eschatological eschatological myth example explicitly fact ﬁgure ﬁnal ﬁnd ﬁrst ﬁrst speech Forms gods Greek Greek Anthology Griswold Guuog Hackforth hence Hesiod horse important incarnate intrapersonal communication Isocrates kind knowledge language limitations lover Lysias matter means meta-narrative mode of discourse Moreover motifs mythical narrative nature Nightingale 1995 nonphilosophical notes notjust offer one’s oral orator Oreithuia Palamedes palinode particular persuasion Phaedrus philosophical Plato Plato’s dialogues Plato’s view Platonic myth play psychagogia psychagogic psychic harmony question rational reader reason recollection reference reﬂection regard rhetoric role second half self-knowledge sense signiﬁcance simply Socrates Socrates says soul soul’s speak speciﬁc structure suggests Thamus thematic themes Theogony Theuth myth things tion traditional myth true truth Ts'Xvn turn Typhon unity words written texts Zeus