Danielle S. Allen’s Why Plato Wrote

Description
Danielle S. Allen’s Why Plato Wrote

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 4
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Information
Category:

Science

Publish on:

Views: 10 | Pages: 4

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Share
Tags
Transcript
  BOOKREVIEWS353 DanielleS Allen  WhyPlatoWrote, BlackwellBristolLecturesonGreece, RomeandtheClassicalTradition(Malden,MA:Wiley-Blackwell,2010), pp.xii   232, 69.95,ISBN9781444334487. AspartoftheBlackwellBristolLecturesSeriesonGreece,Romeandthe ClassicalTradition,DanielleS.Allenhasproducedanextraordinarybook thatnotonlyoffersananswertothetitlequestionofherbook, WhyPlato Wrote, butalsoexaminesthenatureofphilosophicalwriting,therelationship betweenphilosophyandpolitics,andhowoneshouldapproachclassicalstud- ies,historyandpoliticaltheory.ForAllen,Platoisbothametaphysiciananda pragmatistinthesensethatonecanachievetruthbothinphilosophyand politics.Althoughpoliticsisinferiortometaphysicsinthepursuitoftruth, Platodidrecognizethatheneededanadditionalmethodofascertainingthe truthcontentofbeliefsinordertoeffectsocialaction.Hethereforewroteboth asaphilosopherandasapragmaticpoliticaloperativeinthehopeofinfluenc- ingthepoliticallanguageofAthenswithhisphilosophicalideasandthereby changingthepoliticalconvictionsofitscitizens. Throughhispubliclecturesandhiswriting,Plato sphilosophicalideas becamedisseminatedandeventuallyadoptedbypoliticiansintheirown politicallanguage.AlthoughPlatorecognizedthatthesephilosophicalideas couldnotbetransmittedunchangedandunadaptedtothepublic,hewas awarethathecouldatleastincreasethelikelihoodthathisideaswouldbe adoptedbythepublic;andthemorelikelytobeadoptedtheseideaswere,the morelikelyitwasthattheywouldcirculateamongthepublicandinfluence politicaldiscourse.Furthermore,asmoreofhisideasbecamepartofAthenian politicaldiscourse,sotherewouldbeagreaterchancethattheseideaswould belinkedwithoneanothermetaphoricallyandtherebynotdeviatemuchfrom theauthor soriginalintention.Thus,forAllen,Platowasasuccessfullinguis- ticentrepreneurwhounderstoodthecentralrolethatlanguageplaysinthe structureofourlivesandconsequentlysoughttoeffectsocialandpolitical changebyinfluencingtheideologyoflanguageitselfwithhisphilosophical concepts.Inthefirstchapter,AllenoutlinesthismigrationofPlato sphilosophical conceptstopolitics,revealingtoustheprocessbywhichintellectuals ideas cometoshapeacommunity svalues.Althoughideasareoneforceamong manyintheshapingofacommunity svalues,theseideascananddohavean impactuponpoliticallanguage,ideologyandpolicy.AsAllendemonstrates inheranalysisofpoliticalspeeches,Plato spubliclecturesandthetravelling ofhisworksamongeliteandsomenon-eliteAtheniansaffectedtheideo- logicalvocabularyofthepoliticaldebatesduringandafterPlato sown life.Thismigrationofphilosophicalconceptsintopoliticsfollowsapattern wherefirsttherelevanttermsarecreatedbyPlatoandAristotlebutremain unusedbyothers.Next,thesephilosophicalconceptsenterintothepolitical  354BOOKREVIEWS discourseslowlyandselectively.Finally,somepoliticiansbegintoadopta philosophicalvocabularywholeheartedly,whileothersactivelyresistthe Platonicvocabulary. Ofcourse,thispatterniscomplicatedbyPlato sownwritingswhereargu- mentsbothforandagainstphilosophicalwritingscanbeuncovered,particu- larlyinthe Phaedrus andthe Republic. Allenseekstoovercomethisproblem bytestingwhetherPlato sinfluenceinpoliticaldiscoursealignswithhistheory aboutwhattypesofphilosophicalwritingareacceptableandcaninfluence politicallanguage.InChapters2to4,Allenexaminesthesearguments,with mostofthefocusontheargumentsinfavourofphilosophicalwriting.Under- lyingtheseargumentsistheguidingprinciplethatleavingpeoplewithafalse ethicalconceptwhenonehasthepowertocorrectthem,istocausethem harm.Sinceoneshouldcausenoharm,thephilosopher,ifitiswithinhis powertoconveytrueconcepts,shoulddosonotonlytotheintellectually giftedbutalsototheintellectuallyweak.Althoughoraldialecticmaybe appropriatefortheintellectuallyable,thephilosophercanassisttheunlearned throughhiswriting,withtheunderstandingthatitdoesnothavethesame forceandqualityasinheresindialectic. Perhapsnogreaterdemonstrationofthephilosopherleavingwritingtohelp theintellectuallyweakisSocrates creationofsymbolsinthe Republic: thepoliticalimagesofthetwoidealcities;theethicalportrayalsofthetypesof menwiththeircorrespondingregimes;thepsychologicalassociationofvari- ousanimalswithpartsofthesoul;andtheepistemologicalpicturesofthesun, thelineandthecave.Thesesymbolsserveasociological,psychologicaland epistemologicalfunctionfortheregimeincreatingdurableculturalproducts thatcanimpactabstractconceptsinhumanmindsthroughtheirreadingof thoseobjects.Thatis,Socrates symbolsareconstructedtoengagethecogni- tivecapacityofthoughtbystartingwithconcreteimagesthathopefullywill leadtoabstractphilosophicalthought.Byusingsymbols,thestudentwill experience reading thoseobjectsasasenseofdiscoveryandwillremember thesesymbolsastheybecomefull-fledgedbeliefsandinternalizedtogovern action. ButPlatoknewthatnotallcitizenscouldbecomephilosophers,therefore somesymbolshadtobeconstructedtopersuadepeopletoactasiftheyhadin factcognizedmetaphysicallyvalidtruth.Thosecitizenswhodonothave accesstothetruthbutwhobelieveinanobleliewillactjustlyaccordinglyto Plato sdefinitionofjustice,whilethosewhodohaveaccesstothetruth beneaththenobleliewillsimilarlyactjustlybecausetheyarephilosophers. Withoutoraldialectic,thephilosopherthroughhiswritingcanreachthe wholecitizenry.Thejustificationforthenoblelieconsequentlyissimilarto theargumentforphilosophicalwritinginthatbotharepermittedbyPlatoon thepragmaticgroundsofagoodoutcome.However,thispragmatismis  BOOKREVIEWS355neitherexperientialnorutilitarian,butmetaphysical:whetherthewritingis truematterslessthanwhetheritwillleadpeopletoethicalbeliefsandactions. IfPlatodidwanttoimplantculturalandpoliticalchangeinAthens,then whydidhewritedialoguesinsteadofessays?InChapter5,Allenarguesthat Plato sdialoguesweretodisplacethepoets placeinAthenianculture,with theexpectationthatthisculturaldisplacementwouldhavepoliticaleffects. ByevaluatingPlato sdialoguesagainsttheliterarystandardssetbySocrates inthe Republic, Allenshowsthatthedialogueswereanacceptabletypeof poeticsforPlatoandwereintendedtodislodgethepoets roleinAthenian culture.TherelationshipbetweenPlato sphilosophyandpoliticsthereforeis oneofpoliticalengagement,asrevealedinAllen sanalysisof TheSeventh.Letter inChapter6.Thedialogueswereneitherutopianblueprintsnorpeda- gogicaltools,butrather unacknowledgedlegislation thatsoughttoengage thepublicpoliticallyandreorientcitizenstowardsPlatonicideals. Inthesecondpartofthebook,Allenprovidestheempiricalevidenceto makehercase.InChapter7,Allentracesthegenealogyoftermssuchas prohairesis and kalliston fromPlatotothepoliticalspeechesgivenbetween 345-307 Be  toshowtheinfluenceofPlatonicideasonpoliticaldebates. WhilethesepoliticalspeechesshowtracesofPlatonicinfluence,theyalso revealabroaderculturewarwherecoherentalternativeconceptualvisions gainedargumentativetractionatthecoreofAthenianpolitics.Thesevisions werederivedfromphilosophy,andparticularlyfromPlatoalongwithsome significantcontributionsfromAristotle.Withhisphilosophicalconcepts seepingintopoliticaldiscourse,Allen sPlatothereforeisresponsiblefor launchingtheculturewarthataffectedfourth-centuryAthens. Thisculturewarstartedinthe350swithdifferentanswersforhowto reinvigoratetheAthenianspiritofanearlierera,andspilledoverintobattles overfinancialorganization,militaryreadiness,theroleoftheAreopagus, relationswithMacedon,andotherpublicpolicymatters.Byanalysingthe politicalspeechesofDemosthenes,AeschinesandLycurgusinChapters8 and9,AllendemonstrateshowPlatonicideashaveenteredintothepolitical debatesaboutthePeaceofPhilocrates,theSpartauprisingandtheprosecu- tionsofLeocratesandCtseiphon.Specifically,AllenshowshowPlatonism ultimatelybecameassociatedwitholigarchyinpoliticaldiscourse,although somepoliticians,likeAeschines,arguedthatPlatonismwascompatiblewith democracy.ButitwasafterAthensdefeatbyMacedonthatPlatonicconcepts actuallybecamerealizedinthecity snewpoliticalinstitutions,likethe nomophulakes whichwereinstalledbyDemetriusofPhaleronin317. Allenconcludeswithanepiloguethatarguesforhermodelofpragmatism intracingtherelationsbetweenideasandeventsinthedisciplinesofclassical studies,historyandpoliticaltheory.Thispragmaticmodelrecognizesthat beliefsarerulesforactionwhichcanexplainthenatureandchangesinpoliti- callanguage;andideasneedtobeunderstoodintheformoftheirpractical  356BOOKREVIEWS realities.Bytrackingthechangesofnewprinciplesofactionininstitutionsorinpoliticalalliances,onecanfollowtheconversionofideasintoprinciples andrulesofaction.InherstudyofPlato,Allenillustrateshowthisapproach canworkinshowinghowwrittenphilosophicalconceptscaneffectpolitics bymeansotherthantheimmediatepersonaleducationofelites. WhyPlatoWrote makesasubstantialcontributiontoourunderstandingofPlatoasapoliticalphilosopherwhoactsasan unacknowledgedlegislator forAthenianpolitics.Allendemonstratesthatphilosophyatitscoreisapoliti-calactivityintheshapingofconceptsthatactasprinciplesandrulesforactionandtheformationofacommunity svalues.Whethertheseconceptsare implantedinstudentsthroughdialecticorinthebroaderpublicinwriting,thephilosopheraffectstheentirepolityintheircontestationovervalues,norms andinterests.ThispragmaticmodelnotonlyyieldsadeeperunderstandingofPlatonicphilosophy,butitalsoprovidesnewinsightsinourunderstandingofthenatureofphilosophicalwritingitselfanditsrelationshiptopolitics. LeeTrepanier SAGINAWVALLEYSTATEUNIVERSITY DavidN McNeill AnImageoftheSoulinSpeech:PlatoandtheProblemof Socrates (UniversityPark,PA:PennsylvaniaStateUniversityPress,2010), pp.ix   345, 65.00,ISBN9780271035857. DavidMcNeill s AnImageoftheSoulinSpeech:PlatoandtheProblemof Socrates aimstoelucidatethecomplextreatmentPlatogivestothefigureof SocratesbyfocusingontheportraitofSocrates philosophicactivityinthe Republic. TakingasitsstartingpointFriedrichNietzsche sformulationofthe problemofSocratesasaproblemofthesustainabilityanddesirabilityofthe examinedlife,thisbookarguesthatPlatoanticipatedmanyofNietzsche s concerns.Indoingso,McNeillattributestoPlato sSocratesamuchricher andmorecomplicatedvisionofhumanpsychologythaniscapturedbythe moretraditionalconceptionofSocraticintellectualism,onewhichincludes anacuteunderstandingofthehumancreativefacultyandthemulti-layered interactionbetweenthejustificatorypracticesoneusesingivinganaccount ofone swayoflifeandone sexperienceofthislife. Thebookbeginswithalengthytreatmentof Republic 1 asadescriptionofthehistoricalcontextoutofwhichSocrates philosophicpracticeemerges. McNeillarguesthatthethreemaincharacterswithwhomSocratesconverses inthisfirstbookofthedialoguerepresentthreeaspectsofculturaldecadence(andtheircorrespondingerroneousconceptionsofthehumangood)operative inAtheniancultureatlarge:Cephalus,thecalcifiedstateofatraditional   Idtrepan@svsu.edu
Related Search
Similar documents
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks