Poetic JusticeRereading Plato's "Republic"

Poetic JusticeRereading Plato's "Republic"

Jill Frank

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226515632

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Plato’s dialogues are often read as offering biting criticisms of Athens’s democratic authorities, as efforts to supplant those authorities with philosophical authority, and as subjugating desire, imagination, and sense perception to that philosophical authority. On that interpretative approach, Plato’s evident artistry as poet and dramatist is seen as an instrument in the service of the rationalism and idealism of his dialogues, and of their rule of truth. With particular focus on the Republic, this book, by contrast, foregrounds Plato’s artistry and poetry to bring to appearance how the philosophy of the Republic depends on, draws on, and incapacitates desire, persuasion, and the senses, and does so for the sake of justice. Reading the Republic with and against Socrates’ treatment of mimetic poetry in Republic 10, and alongside other dialogues, including Phaedrus, Symposium, and Theaetetus, the book argues that rather than endorsing and enforcing fixed hierarchies in knowledge and politics, Plato’s texts offer an education in ethical and political self-governance with a view to reimagining democratic authority.