Plato: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)
Gerald A. Press
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
It is widely agreed that Plato laid the foundations for the whole history of western thought and, well over 2000 years later, his work is still studied by every student of philosophy. Yet his thought and writings continue to evoke perplexity in readers; and perplexity (aporia) is itself a characteristic of many of his writings, a recurrent motif of his thought, and apparently an important stage one must pass through along the path to wisdom that Plato presents.
Plato: A Guide for the Perplexed is a clear and thorough account of Plato's philosophy, his major works and ideas, providing an ideal guide to the important and complex thought of this key philosopher. The book offers a detailed review of all the major dialogues and explores the particular perplexities of the dialogue form. Geared towards the specific requirements of students who need to reach a sound understanding of Plato's thought, the book also provides a cogent and reliable survey of the whole history of Platonic interpretation and his far-reaching influence. This is the ideal companion to the study of this most influential and challenging of philosophers.
mastery of the language itself, a fundamental fact about Plato’s dialogues is the astonishing number and frequency of distinguishable literary devices that he uses. Simply as a writer, Plato set a standard of literary inventiveness that has seldom, if ever, been matched in the subsequent history of Western literature. The list of speciﬁc literary tropes and devices Plato uses is enormous. Among the most important are: use of personiﬁcation (as when the Laws cross-examine Socrates in the Crito
serious at the same time.’ THE SERIOUSNESS OF PLAY AND THE PLAY OF SERIOUSNESS Thus, instead of the usual opposition between play and seriousness, Plato suggests that when it comes to philosophy, play and seriousness coincide. He inverts the usual idea that, for adults, work, politics and the life of action are serious whereas engaging in philosophic speculation would be inappropriate and childish play. Philosophy which pursues true happiness is what is truly serious; and the pursuits popularly
goal, to which opinion (doxa) is plainly inferior. Knowledge, for example, is 149 PLATO: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED equated with virtue and wisdom, but opinion, adequate for practical purposes, is deﬁnitely inferior. In the world of the Platonic dialogues, the theoretical life is more highly esteemed than the practical life of politics and the law courts. Plato’s Socrates rejects speech-making, preferring the give-and-take of dialectic as the means and end of a proper (that is, philosophical)
embodied in statements telling us that something is true. ‘Justice is doing the work for which one is naturally suited’ or ‘Courage is knowing what things are truly to be feared’ or ‘Knowledge is justiﬁed true belief ’ tell us, inform us, teach us that this is the nature of justice, courage and knowledge. Such statements are taken to be what the philosopher who asserts them is teaching, i.e. the philosopher’s doctrines. So, a propositional conception of knowledge is linked to a doctrinal
Philosophy’s path is inner, in the sense that it takes attention to one’s own thought, but at the same time outer, in the sense that it involves one’s behaviour in speech and action that are brought into agreement with each other and with one’s thought. It is essentially intellectual, or spiritual, in a sense of the term that is not widely understood today, rather than physical. Being at a diﬀerent stage of the journey constitutes a diﬀerent set of intellectual or spiritual circumstances. The