Interpreting Plato: The Dialogue as Drama
By: James A. Arieti (author)Paperback
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Despite Plato's various warnings not to do so, his dialogues have been studied as systematic philosophy since antiquity. In this innovative and controversial reassessment, James Arieti argues that they should be read primarily as works of drama rather than philosophical discourse. Analyses of 18 of the 28 dialogues allow the reader to see them as integrated dramas, with all the ambiguities and uncertainties that literary works contain. As in plays generally, the arguments of particular characters cannot be seen as the opinions of the author, whose views emerge only from examining each work as a whole. This literary reading shows how much of the debate about Plato's meaning has been misplaced. Instead of demonstrating that an argument is fallacious or valid, we need to ask why Plato has the particular character make the argument. Interpreting Plato achieves what no other work on Plato has attempted: to see the philosophical arguments as serving a dramatic purpose.
James Arieti is professor of classics at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.
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- ID: 9780847676637
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