Another Platonic Method: Four genealogical myths about human nature and their philosophical contribution in Plato

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Abstract

In this chapter Rowett challenges the view that when Plato includes stories or myths in his dialogues, he is giving up on philosophy, avoiding dialectic, or is unable to find a proof. She considers four cases, from Plato’s Laws, Statesman, Symposium and Protagoras, where Plato’s characters tell stories of a “genealogy” kind, narrating a development from a pre-social state, or “original condition”, and shows that such myths about past ages function as a heuristic tool, a method of scrutiny, and, when successful, a kind of proof. Plato uses them, Rowett suggests, across many dialogues, of all periods, in the mouth of various characters, to address a range of questions in moral theory, political philosophy and philosophical anthropology. They constitute a philosophical method, deployed in all seriousness by Plato, to good effect, in many of his most famous enquiries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Perspectives on Platonic Dialectic
Subtitle of host publicationA Philosophy of Inquiry
Place of PublicationNew York and Abingdon
PublisherRoultledge
Chapter10
ISBN (Print)9780367622763
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2022

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