Digital Dialogue 54: Plato’s Philosophers

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For episode 54 of the Digital Dialogue, I am joined via Skype by Catherine Zuckert, Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. Professor Zuckert is the author of many on the history of political philosophy and the relationship between literature and politics. I will link to her CV on the blog, but I want to mention a few of her excellent books here in reverse chronological order:

  • Natural Right and the American Imagination: Political Philosophy in Novel Form (Savage, Md: Rowman and Littlefield, 1990), 277 pages.
  • Postmodern Platos: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Strauss and Derrida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 351 pages.
  • The Truth about Leo Strauss: Political Philosophy and American Democracy, with Michael P. Zuckert (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 352 pages.

But it is her most recent book, Plato’s Philosophers: The Coherence of the Dialogues (Chicago UP, 2009) that brings her to the digital dialogue today. I had the privilege to review the book for the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews and upon its recent appearance, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to engage in a more dynamic discussion of the book together here on the digital dialogue. So, Catherine Zuckert, welcome to the Digital Dialogue.


Digital Dialogue 53: Pindar and the Phaedrus

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Christopher Moore joins me for Digital Dialogue, episode 53. He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2008 and is currently Lecturer in Philosophy and Classics at Penn State.

His areas of specialization include: Ancient Philosophy, Socrates, Aesthetics and Democratic Theory.

He has a number of articles in press and forthcoming, including:

  • “Chaerephon, Telephus, and Cure in Plato’s Gorgias,” Arethusa (forthcoming May 2012)
  • “The Myth of Theuth in the Phaedrus,” in Status, Uses and Function of Plato’s Myths, Catherine Collobert, Pierre Destrée, Francisco Gonzalez, edd. (Brill, forthcoming Spring 2012)
  • “Socratic Persuasion in the Crito,” British Journal of the History of Philosophy (forthcoming November 2011)

I was very happy when Christopher joined the faculty here at Penn State because it offered me the opportunity to work closely with someone who really understands the nuances of Greek. What better way to welcome Christopher, I thought, than to invite him onto the Digital Dialogue to talk about his very interesting paper on the connection between Plato’s Phaedrus and Pindar’s First Isthmian, a poem from which Socrates quotes early on in the Phaedrus.

I hope you will enjoy our conversation as much as I did.

Digital Dialogue 52: Politics and the Phaedo

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Episode 52 of the Digital Dialogue was recorded at the 50th Anniversary Meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy.

I was joined by Sara Brill, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fairfield University and graduate from the Philosophy Department here at Penn State in 2004, where she wrote her dissertation with John Sallis entitled, Hygieia: Health and Medicine in Plato’s Republic.

Sara has appeared on the Digital Dialogue a number of times including episodes:

So this episode is part of an ongoing dialogue about our ongoing work on Plato.  Sara has completed a manuscript on Plato’s psychology and I am completing a manuscript on Socratic and Platonic Politics.  The Phaedo plays an important role in both of these manuscripts and we take up our readings of that text in our discussion.

Digital Dialogue 44: The Apology

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For Digital Dialogue episode 44, I have joined Nicolas Parra, Norman Mora and Sergio Ariza in their home city of Bogotá, Colombia to discuss the seminar we held today on Plato’s Apology and a paper I wrote entitled Socratic Disturbances and Platonic Politics.

Sergio is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Universidad de los Andes, who work focused on Ancient Greek Philosophy; his currently working on a translation of the Meno with commentary, he has recently published an essay entitled “Gorgias and the Incommunicability of Being”, which is a critique of Mourelatos’s interpretation.

Norman Mora is an undergraduate student working on his degree in literature and philosophy. And Nicolas Parra has been on the Digital Dialogue before when he was studying at Penn State. It was episode 21 and we discussed the relationship between Philosophy and Rhetoric in the Gorgias. Nicolas is working on his MA in Philosophy and a degree in law. His work focused on aporia in Socrates.

Digital Dialogue 42: Remembering

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Walter Brogan, Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University, editor of Epoché: Journal for the History of Philosophy and a founding member of the Ancient Philosophy Society joins me for episode 42 of the Digital Dialogue.

Walter is the author of numerous publications on ancient philosophy, hermeneutics and contemporary continental philosophy. His most recent book is Heidegger and Aristotle: The Twofoldness of Being, published by SUNY press in 2005 which is essential reading for anyone interested in the Heideggerian engagement with Aristotle.

This recording was made in Montreal, Canada, where we were both attending the annual meeting of SPEP. In it we discuss an essay entitled “In the Wake of Socrates: Impossible Memory” in which he focuses on the problem of remembrance in the dialogues and specifically the complex dynamics associated with Plato’s attempts to remember the life of Socrates.

Digital Dialogue 35: Socratic Strangeness

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Sean Kirkland joins me for Digital Dialogue episode 35 to joins me today to talk about a book project he is completing entitled Ontology and Self-Knowledge in Plato’s Early Dialogues. Our discussion focuses on the extent to which the activity of Socratic philosophy must be permitted to strike us as strange because it is rooted in an ante-modern understanding of human thought and it’s world.

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Digital Dialogue 32: Crisis of Community

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Episode 32 of the Digital Dialogue is a recording of my paper on Plato’s Protagoras entitled, “Crisis of Community: The Topology of Socratic Politics,” delivered at the 10th Annual Independent meeting of the Ancient Philosophy Society.

The paper is part of a larger project that investigates the nature of Socratic Politics by attending to the manner in which Socrates practices politics in the dialogues themselves.

In this essay, I argue that Socrates interrupts his plans for the day in order to go with Hippocrates to the house of Callias where Protagoras is staying.  The discussion is facilitated at certain important points by Alcibiades who, I argue, plays the part of Hermes in the dialogue itself.

The podcast includes the comments by Anne-Marie Bowery of Baylor University and the questions and discussion from the APS gathered at Michigan State this spring.

Digital Dialogue 21: Rhetoric and Philosophy

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Axelle Karera, graduate student in Philosophy at Penn State, and Nicolas Parra, who is a visiting student at Penn State as he completes his M.A. degree from Universidad de los Andes in Bogata, Columbia, join me for episode 21 of the Digital Dialogue.

The impetus for this episode was a brief exchange between Axelle and Nicolas on the blog entitled: Gorgias and Socrates: The Feast of Friendship.  I thought it would be excellent to invite them to the Digital Dialogue to discuss the issues they raised there about the possibility of a noble kind of rhetoric, one that would not necessitate a polemical relationship between rhetoric and philosophy.

There were a number of passages to which Nicolas and Axelle appealed in the course of the discussion.  Nicolas referred to these:

  1. (455d7-456c5) where Gorgias uncovers to Socrates the power of rhetoric and tells his story with the sick person and his brother, the physician.
  2. (497b5-11) Gorgias’ first intervention in the conversation of Socrates with Callicles.
  3. (506a10-506b3) Gorgias’ second intervention in the conversation of Socrates with Callicles.
  4. (521d7-522a8) Socrates’ statement that he is the one who practices the true political art and where he compares himself with a doctor.
  5. (503b1-2) Socrates’ allusion to a rhetoric aiming towards the just that has not yet been seen. (504d6-504e2) Socrates ilustrates what would it mean to be a good rhetor.

Axelle reports the following:

I referred specifically to the analogies in the Protogoras. The relevant passages are: 329c-333c.

The crucial debate between Protagoras and Socrates about the unity of virtue (argued by using the analogies) is found from 349b-360d.

Finally, Socrates recognizes that he seems to have finished the conversation by endorsing Protagoras’ position (which was contrary to his at the beginning), and vice versa for Protagoras, is found on 361a-362a.

In the spirit of the last Digital Dialogue, I have tried to add a picture to give a sense of interlocutors and of the context of the discussion.

Digital Dialogue 13: Psychology and Politics

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Sara Brill, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fairfield University, joins me for episode 13 of the Digital Dialogue. Sara graduated from the Philosophy Department here at Penn State in 2004, where she wrote her dissertation with John Sallis entitled, Hygieia: Health and Medicine in Plato’s Republic. Since graduating, she has published numerous articles on Plato and Ancient Greek tragedy, including “Medical Moderation in Plato’s Symposium”, published in Studies in the History of Ethics, 2006; “Violence and Vulnerability in Aeschylus’ Suppliants” in a 2009 volume edited by William Wians entitled Logos and Mythos: Philosophical Essays in Greek Literature; and “Politics and Exoribitant Platonism”, published in Epoché, 2009.

In this episode of the Digital Dialogue, we discuss the relationship between the Platonic conception of the soul and the political dimensions of the Phaedo, in particular. We also discuss the question of how Plato uses myths to capture something of the violence and vulnerability endemic to the human condition.

Digital Dialogue 13 with Sara Brill: Psyche and Politics

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Related Resources

  • People interested in the Phaedo myth should take a look at 107c-115a; in the Republic, the myth of Er (of course) from 614b-621d; and for the Laws, the series of preludes against impiety that take up most of Book 10, from 888a-907d.
  • Sara Brill’s current CV (pdf).

Digital Dialogue 09: Erotic Politics

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In episode 9 of the Digital Dialgoue, I am joined by Jill Gordon, who is currently Professor of Philosophy at Colby College, but in just a few days, on September 1st, she will be the Charles A. Dana Professor of Philosophy at Colby College.

She is the author of many articles on Plato and Social Political philosophy. She has been a long time member of the Ancient Philosophy Society and she served a term as Co-Director during which time she oversaw a tremendous increase in membership and did an enormous amount to secure the long term flourishing of the society.

Her well received book entitled Turning Toward Philosophy: Literary Device and Dramatic Structure in Plato’s Dialogues focuses on the way Plato’s literary techniques are designed to engage students and readers and turn them toward the pursuit of philosophy. She is currently working on a book manuscript that investigates the erotic dimensions of Plato’s world.

In this episode we discuss the erotic nature of Socratic questioning, touching also upon the discussion Marina McCoy and I had in episode 6. We also focus on some passages from Plato’s Phaedo to highlight courage and openness as excellences of dialogue. We touch too upon contemporary political culture and its fundamentally agonistic posture.  Finally, Jill highlights the importance of Platonic as opposed to Socratic irony.


Digital Dialogue 06: Attentive Listening

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In episode six of the Digital Dialogue, I am joined by Marina McCoy, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Boston College and longstanding member of the Ancient Philosophy Society.

Marina has written extensively on Plato, focusing on the role of rhetoric in his thinking. Her recent book, Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists, published by Cambridge University Press, investigates the relation between Socratic questioning and the rhetoric of the sophists.

She shows, convincingly, that part of what differentiates the Socratic practice of philosophy from other rhetorical activities is that the activity of philosophy involves at once a commitment to the truth and an openness to questioning the human relation to the truth itself.

In the podcast we focus on passage from Plato’s Protagoras in which the issue of the nature of Socratic questioning is at play.  These include 331c5-d1, 333c9-d6 and 348c-d.  We then turn to the question of what Marina calls “sympathetic listening” and the degree to which this is an important for the transformative possibilities of dialogue.  There the passages we touch upon are: 328e-329b.  For examples of Hippocrates listening, see 312a and for the scene at the doorway, see 314c-e.  For the passage that suggests that Protagoras is not a bad listener, see, for example, 359d.

Related Links

Of Note
It was rewarding to see that the Agora Portal at Boston College highlighted Marina’s appearance on the Digital Dialogue.  Because that site updates with new stories so frequently, I thought I would post a screenshot here to preserve it for posterity.
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