Turning Toward Philosophy: Literary Device and Dramatic Structure in Plato's Dialogues / Edition 1

Turning Toward Philosophy: Literary Device and Dramatic Structure in Plato's Dialogues / Edition 1

by Jill Gordon
Pub. Date:
Penn State University Press

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Turning Toward Philosophy: Literary Device and Dramatic Structure in Plato's Dialogues / Edition 1

Acknowledging the powerful impact that Plato's dialogues have had on readers, Jill Gordon shows how the literary techniques Plato used function philosophically to engage readers in doing philosophy and attracting them toward the philosophical life.

The picture of philosophical activity emerging from the dialogues, as thus interpreted, is a complex process involving vision, insight, and emotion basic to the human condition rather than a resort to pure reason as an escape from it. Since the literary features of Plato's writing are what draw the reader into philosophy, the book becomes an argument for the union of philosophy and literature—and against their disciplinary bifurcation—in the dialogues.

Gordon construes the relationship of Plato's text to its audience as an analogue of Socrates' relationship with his interlocutors in the dialogues, seeing both as fundamentally dialectic. On this insight she builds her detailed analysis of specific literary devices in chapters on dramatic form, character development, irony, and image-making (which includes myth, metaphor, and analogy).

In this way Gordon views Plato as not at all the enemy of the poets and image-makers that previous interpreters have depicted. Rather, Gordon concludes that Plato understands the power of words and images quite well. Since they, and not logico-deductive argumentation, are the appropriate means for engaging human beings, he uses them to great effect and with a sensitive understanding of human psychology, wary of their possible corrupting influences but ultimately willing to harness their power for philosophical ends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271019260
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 11/28/1999
Series: Literature and Philosophy
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.59(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments and Note on Translationsix
1.Analysis and Argument-Focused Methods3
2.An Alternative Approach7
3.The Project13
Chapter 1Dialectic19
1.Beyond Logic: Dialectic Tools and Practices21
2.Dialectic in the Meno33
3.Dialectic and Belief: The Socratic Disposition37
4.Platonic Dialectic: A Look Ahead42
Chapter 2Reader43
1.Response Theory44
2.Dialogue and Dialectic: A Phenomenology of Reading49
3.Transformation of the Self57
4.Only Readers?61
Chapter 3Drama63
1.Plato as Poet and Dramatist64
2.Plato's Works Reconsidered: Criticizing Poetry74
3.Plato's Works and Aristotle's Poetics76
4.Plato's Works: Making and Doing86
5.Making Characters91
Chapter 4Character93
1.Introducing Meno's Character95
4.Character Transformation and Plato's Project111
5.Beyond Character Development116
Chapter 5Irony117
1.The Definition of Socratic Irony118
2.The Function of Socratic Irony127
3.Literary Devices and Plato's Metaphysics132
Chapter 6Image135
1.The Evidence of the Phaedo138
2.The Evidence of Other Dialogues148
3.The Philosophical Effect of Images and Image-Making163
Works Cited173

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