Returning to Wittenberg for the first time since graduating in 1991, I gave an interactive, live-tweeted, lecture on Reading the Death of Socrates. The paper argues that the Phaedo is Plato’s most eloquent political dialogue, and it seeks not only to argue that both Socratic and Platonic politics recognized the transformative power of words, but also to use social media to experience the way words can enrich, or impoverish, community.
On the day he was to die, we find Socrates writing poetry.
This is very strange because Socrates generally chose not to write, opting instead to engage in dialogue with those he encountered in and around Athens. But he has been haunted by certain dreams which, here at the end, he wonders if he has interpreted properly.
These recurring dreams told him: “Socrates, produce and practice music.” (Plato, Phaedo, 60e6-7.)
He had always taken this as an exhortation to practice philosophy which, he says, “is the highest kind of music.” (Phaedo, 61a3-4)
This essay articulates the differences and suggests the similarities between the practices of Socratic political speaking and those of Platonic political writing.
The essay delineates Socratic speaking and Platonic writing as both erotically oriented toward ideals capable of transforming the lives of individuals and their relation- ships with one another. Besides it shows that in the Protagoras the practices of Socratic political speaking are concerned less with Protagoras than with the individual young man, Hippocrates. In the Phaedo, this ideal of a Socrates is amplified in such a way that Platonic writing itself emerges as capable of doing with readers what Socratic speaking did with those he encountered. Socrates is the Platonic political ideal. Read More
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:
- Digital Dialogue 13: Psychology and Politics
- Digital Dialogue 17: Parmenides (with Rose Cherubin and Jill Gordon)
- Digital Dialogue 33: Ancient Philosophy Society 2010 Wrap-up (with Jill Gordon)
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.
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.