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Chapter 9 - Religion and Philosophy in the Laws

from Part IV - Projects, Paradoxes, and Literary Registers in the Laws

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2023

Malcolm Schofield
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Two intimately related topics are explored here. First is a focus on the different addresses Plato conceives of in writing the Laws. The limitations in understanding of his ‘naïve’ audiences are what are most strongly emphasized: in the first instance the elderly and insular interlocutors Cleinias and Megillus, but by implication the citizens of the community Cleinias is imagined as helping to construct, and first time readers of the dialogue itself. Those limitations will be registered by more ‘practised’ readers. For that more practised readership, some more challenging passages of writing are supplied, with sufficiently indicative reminiscences of more intellectually demanding treatments of subject matter and styles of argument familiar elsewhere in the dialogues. Second is the dominant religious framework within which the Laws mostly operates, which acts as prime vehicle for its philosophical limitation. I illustrate this principally by examination of a passage in Book 4 which includes a myth about the primeval god Cronos, but also by discussion of the strenuously argued cosmic theology of Book 10.

Type
Chapter
Information
How Plato Writes
Perspectives and Problems
, pp. 183 - 201
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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