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The Philosopher's Song: The Poets' Influence on Platoby Kevin Crotty
Synopses & Reviews
The Philosopher's Song is a full-length treatment of Plato and the dynamic course of his philosophical thought, regarded from a distinctly poetic point of view. Kevin Crotty demonstrates how Plato's invention of philosophy needs to be situated within the context of a society where poets were cultural authorities, whose teachings emphasized such tragic themes as the instability of things and the indeterminacy of moral terms. The interest of Plato's philosophy lies to a great extent in the compelling interest of what he sought to repress-the poetic and political heritage of a world tragically conceived. Plato's attacks on the poets are notorious. Despite his apparently frank hostility, however, his relation to the poets was exceedingly complex, argues Crotty. Even the banishment of the poets in the Republic turns out to be, more deeply, a recruitment of mimetic poetry for Plato's metaphysics. Once endowed with a metaphysical significance, however, the poets posed a serious challenge to Platonic idealism, and spurred Plato to revise considerably his metaphysical scheme. Crotty ultimately concludes that the views of politics and ethics in Plato's later works return in many ways to the insights of the poets.
The Philosopher's Song explores the complex and fruitful relation between the great poets of Greek culture and Plato's invention of philosophy, especially as this bears on Plato's treatment of justice. The author shows how the poets helped shape the development of Plato's thinking throughout the course of his philosophical career.
About the Author
Kevin Crotty is professor of classics at Washington and Lee University.
Table of Contents
Preface — Introduction — Achilles' insight : poetic and moral consciousness in Homer — Rules for the poets of Callipolis — Iliad 24 and achilles' insight — Multiple causation and moral responsibility — The poetics of justice : Aeschylus' Oresteia and Plato's Republic — Justice and violence — Is tragedy inevitable? — The quarrel between poetry and philosophy concerning justice — Socrates' intellectual crisis : the Phaedo — Philosophy and vengeance — Philosophy and asceticism — Socrates' intellectual crisis — The philosopher's song — Excursus: myth in Plato — The greatest charge against mimetic poetry — The relation between spectators and the performance — Mimetic poetry as narrative poetry — Philosophy and narrative as different ways of "making sense" — Mimetic poetry as "anti-form" — Images and non-being — Proliferating the tiers of existence — How many forms are there? — The metaphysics of fallibility : the Sophist — Is falsehood possible? : the problem of being — A new philosophical method — The new centrality of language — The metaphysics of fallibility : the possibility of false statements — The metaphysics of fallibility : the fallibility of the division method — The metaphysics of fallibility : any metaphysical approach has its deficits — The statesman : the tragedy of politics and the shape of Plato's thought — The grand myth — A new issue for political philosophy — The statesman and law — The conflict within virtue — The shape of Plato's thought — The statesman as philosophical commentary on Sophocles' Antigone.
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