Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Discourse on some Platonic Dialogues

Discovering PlatoDiscovering Plato 
by Alexandre Koyré

"The reader would like nothing better than to learn the answers to the problems placed before him by Socrates.  But those answers are just what Socrates most often denies him.  The dialogues, at least the so-called Socratic dialogues, the only ones which will concern us here, leave us up in the air.  The discussion ends upon a note of impotence with an avowal of ignorance." ( p 1)

This short book includes much more "food for thought" than many tomes more than twice its' size. Alexandre Koyre demonstrates an incisive erudition in his commentary on four of Plato's greatest dialogues; these include the Meno, the Theatetus, the Protagoras, and the Republic. The Republic takes up about half of the short book presenting a focus on politics and on the just city.

Beginning with the lesson from the Meno that virtue is not taught, but it can be taught. The same subject is discussed in the Protagoras, yet in a different and, according to Koyre, more amusing way. The further discussions of Theatetus and Republic are equally inviting and challenging as far as they go.  They suggest ways we may conceive of knowledge and elucidate how theory and action may work in combination in both philosophy and politics.  Is there such a thing as a just city?  This book provides direction toward how to think about this and other topics.  Ultimately it is a good introduction to both the philosophy of Plato and the acute analytical thought of Alexandre Koyre. The result is both invigorating and engaging for the reader.

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