Method, Madness, Magic: Plato's Phaedran Dialectics in Politics and Understanding
Nina Valiquette Moreau
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper
Our modern understanding of the autonomy of human reason is always being read into the “old quarrel between philosophy and poetry” identified in the Platonic dialogues. On this understanding, philosophy itself assumes a self-evident distinction from “fiction” (poetry, myth, religion), and anything that cannot be circumscribed by its rationality is simply madness. But consider what is said in the Phaedrus vis-à-vis philosophy’s dialectical method. Here, this supra-rational method is first applied to an investigation of the emotional and irrational, namely love and madness, and ultimately uncovers the truth that god-given madness is better than human sobriety. Second, dialectic here reaches its own methodological limit, transposing itself from the sensible to the intelligible as a type of “vision of the soul.” This move from method to vision is manifest in the dialogue as a move from discursive analysis to myth: the philosophical enquiry at hand is completed by an act of poetry. There is no quarrel. Platonic philosophy, Phaedran dialectics indicate, is in fact an opening up of the soul to the vision of reality that obviates the distinction between rational and irrational as they are tied to human understanding. And in their highest form, philosophy and poetry are not only indistinguishable, but mediate the dynamic interrelationship Plato envisaged between the individual and society.
working papers series
Date posted: March 29, 2010
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo6 in 0.375 seconds