The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Platonic Questions

Platonic Questions

Dialogues with the Silent Philosopher Diskin Clay
  • Copyright: 2000
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Illustrations: 3 illustrations
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-02043-3

Paperback Edition: $34.95Add to Cart

“There are many books on Plato, but very few that deal in a sensitive way with the dialogues as literary works, while at the same time respecting the philosophical content.”
“In Platonic Questions, Clay has set himself a complex challenge. This is a ‘companion and guide’ to the reader new to Plato, but is not meant simply to be an introductory text for the uninitiated. It is intended to be of significant interest to the advanced reader as well, opening up deep issues in a perspicuous and inviting way. Clay succeeds admirably in meeting this challenge. His book is a major achievement and can be read with profit by a variety of audiences, including beginning students, academics in disciplines other than philosophy and classics, and even non-academics who want a guide through the labyrinth. It is a mature work by a master of the field. Its apparent simplicity and accessibility embody the author’s vast learning and reflection.”
“Clay’s thematic sections are self-contained and can be read independently; each is followed by a useful annotated bibliography. Clay has produced a marvelous set of vignettes, filled with rich insights and classical references.”
“Overall, this is a splendid contribution: Clay’s book is the first place to send a beginning student interested in the literary character of Plato’s dialogues.”

The dialogue has disappeared as a mode of writing philosophy, and philosophers who study Plato today often ignore the form in which Plato’s work appears in favor of reconstructing and analyzing arguments thought to be conveyed by the content of the dialogues. A distinguished classicist here offers an approach to understanding Plato that tries to do full justice to the form of Platonic philosophy, appreciated against the background of Greek literature and history, while also giving proper due to the important philosophic content of the dialogues.

The book deals in turn with Plato’s relation to and portraits of Socrates, the literary and philosophical character of the dialogues (including the problems of interpreting a philosopher who never speaks in his own name), and the modes of argumentation employed in the dialogues as well as some of their major themes.

Diskin Clay is R. J. R. Nabisco Professor of Classical Studies at Duke University. His previous books include Paradosis and Survival: Three Chapters in the History of Epicurean Philosophy (1990) and Four Island Utopias: Plato's Atlantis, Euhemeros of Messene's Panchaia, Iamboulos' Island of the Sun, & Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, with Andrea Lee Purvis (FOCUS Philosophical Library, 1999). Chapters in the History of Epicurean Philosophy (Michigan, 1990) and Four Island Utopias: Plato's Atlantis, Euhemeros of Messene's Panchaia, Iamboulos' Island of the Sun, Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, with Andrea Lee Purvis (1999).

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