Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Approaching the Platonic Corpus

After a stressful but rewarding semester, I have decided to switch gears for the summer and do something I have wanted to do for a few years now: read the entire Platonic corpus. I’ve read – in whole or in part – many of the dialogues in the past, but now want to go through the lot. The purpose of this blog is to record my thoughts on each. It will have the added benefit of getting me back up to speed for next semester’s Greek Philosophy course. I spent some time with the Eleatics and early atomists last semester, and hope to start into Aristotle before the summer break is over.

The title, “A Dialogue a Day,” is not a literal promise, but instead just a catchy phrase that looks good as a header; it reads better than “A Few Dialogues a Week,” or, "A Dialogue Whenever I Find hte Time and Inclination," anyway. I am reading the dialogues in the order presented in my chosen translation (see below), which has opted to follow the order set down by Thrasyllus in the first century CE.1 

I will be reading the dialogues in English, referring to the Greek text (which I have only a small skill in translating) when I feel intrigued enough by a turn of phrase or word choice to see what the original text has to say. For the English text, I will be relying on Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper and published in 1997 by Hackett Publishing Company. I might turn to other translations from time to time, and will note when I do so (and add them to the list of links to the right). For any Greek texts accessed in the process, I will likely use the Loeb editions, or turn the wonderful Perseus Digital Library – truly one of the most awesome resources on the internet.

I will try not to rely on any other commentator's interpretations as I proceed, hoping to come to my own conclusions. Of course, I cannot separate myself from the past, and I'm sure the opinions of others will find their way in; I shall do my best to note when that is the case, in an effort to remain academically honest. This will most likely crop up on the dialogues I have already studied in some depth - Symposium, Phaedo, and, of course, Republic.

This work is not teleological in that I am not setting out to prove anything one way or the other about Plato, Socrates, or the dialogues. The end result will likely look something like half a dialectic – a “dialogue” by one, if you will – as I think out loud. The intent is to benefit my own understanding. If anyone else can take something useful from it, all the better.

First up, Euthyphro.


- Rodney

1 Plato, Plato: Complete Works, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997), viii-ix. Cooper’s discussion of the Platonic canon, how it can be ordered, and why he chose to go with Thrasyllus’s ordering is a worthwhile read by anyone interested in the dialogues as a body of literature.

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