Thursday, November 24, 2011

Aimless Reading: The P's, Part 33 (Plato)

The Dialogues of Plato
The Dialogues of Plato

This book is old enough to have been my high school textbook, but I don't think it is. I feel like I may have picked this one up for a dollar somewhere in order to have a copy of one dialogue or another that I did not have in my collection. I have four or five different collections, but they all seem to be missing one essential thing. I guess I should have bought the big complete edition. But alas, I did not, which means we have several days of Plato ahead.

Plato was very important to me early on because he blended my two dominant sensibilities–the philosophical and the literary–into a single art form. Philosophy interested me from an early age, but my youthful inability to concentrate made it difficult for me to read most of it. I could listen to a good teacher lecture on philosophy, but I could not go home and read the texts themselves without great difficulty.

However, this was not the case with Plato. Plato's dialogues always read to me like novels or a dramas. I don't know if it was the fact that ideas were embodied in characters or that the conceit of ordinary speech made the work more accessible or that they had a hero, Socrates, on whom we could reliably expect to pin our hopes, but I was happy always to go home and read the dialogues.

Ok-- time for Thanksgiving to begin. Have a happy one.

from The Dialogues of Plato

from The Apologia

How you, O Athenians, have been affected by my accusers, I cannot tell; but I know that they almost made me forget who I was–so persuasively did they speak; and yet they have hardly uttered a word of the truth. But of the many falsehoods told by them, there was one which quite amazed me;–I mean when they said that you should be upon your guard and not allow yourself to be deceived by the force of my eloquence. To say this, when they were certain to be detected as soon as I opened my lips and proved myself to be anything but a great speaker, did indeed appear to me most shameless–unless by force of eloquence they mean the force of truth; for if such is their meaning, I admit that I am eloquent.

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