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9 - The Many Questions of Plato’s Phaedrus

Did Plato Write a Commentary on His Own Work?

from Part III - Introduction to Love, Myth, Erotikē Technē, and Generative Epistēmē

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2023

Kevin Corrigan
Affiliation:
Emory University, Atlanta
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Summary

Any reading of the Phaedrus presents many questions, some of which have arguably never received an answer from antiquity down to the modern age, despite recent fine commentaries, those, for example, of Capra, , and especially Werner, . Among these questions are the following: What is the structure of the Phaedrus? Is it really a divided dialogue that contradicts its own stipulations for good writing (264b–c: “every speech should be put together like a living creature with a body of its own … not without head or feet … with middle parts and extremities, written as appropriate to each other and to the whole”)? The Phaedrus, by contrast, seems puzzling. If there is a principle of structural unity in it, what is this principle or principles? Why does the first part of the dialogue – namely, the three early speeches about love culminating in Socrates’ great palinode, not carry over into the second part that deals much more prosaically, first, with rhetoric and, second, with living speech and a critique of writing?1

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A Less Familiar Plato
From Phaedo to Philebus
, pp. 240 - 278
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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