An Image of the Soul in Speech: Plato and the Problem of Socrates

Paperback | May 19, 2010

byDavid N. McNeill

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In this book, David McNeill illuminates Plato’s distinctive approach to philosophy by examining how his literary portrayal of Socrates manifests an essential interdependence between philosophic and ethical inquiry. In particular, McNeill demonstrates how Socrates’s confrontation with profound ethical questions about his public philosophic activity is the key to understanding the distinctively mimetic, dialogic, and reflexive character of Socratic philosophy.

Taking a cue from Nietzsche’s account of “the problem of Socrates,” McNeill shows how the questions Nietzsche raises are questions that, in Plato's depiction, Socrates was aware of and responded to. McNeill also shows how the Republic provides a view of Socratic moral psychology that resembles Nietzsche’s account of human psychology: it deals with the internalized ethical narratives and justificatory schemes through which human beings orient themselves to their world. McNeill argues that this moral psychology not only determines Socrates’s explicit account of different character types and political regimes but also crucially informs his dialectical engagements with his various interlocutors in the dialogues.

In addition to contributing a unique perspective to current debates about Socrates’s philosophic methods and the significance of the literary character of Plato’s dialogues, the book offers a far-reaching interpretation of Plato’s presentation of the theoretical and practical activities of the fifth-century Sophists. And in showing how Plato responds to “modern” theoretical challenges, McNeill provides new evidence to question standard views of the differences between ancient and modern conceptions of the self, society, and nature.

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In this book, David McNeill illuminates Plato’s distinctive approach to philosophy by examining how his literary portrayal of Socrates manifests an essential interdependence between philosophic and ethical inquiry. In particular, McNeill demonstrates how Socrates’s confrontation with profound ethical questions about his public philosop...

David N. McNeill is Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Essex in England.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:360 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.79 inPublished:May 19, 2010Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271035862

ISBN - 13:9780271035864

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Table of Contents

Contents

1. Introduction: Plato’s Socrates on the “Problem of Socrates”

2. Republic Book 1: Philosophy and Cultural Decadence

3. Polemarchus, Politics, and Action

4. Thrasymachus, Rhetoric, and the Art of Rule

5. Gorgias and the Divine Work of Persuasion

6. Protagoras, Antinaturalism, and the Political Art

7. Tyrannical Eros and the Philosophic Orientation of the Republic

8. Imitation and Experience

9. Poetry, Psychology, and τò θυμoειδες

10. Psychology and Ontology

Conclusion: An Image of the Soul in Speech

References

Index

Editorial Reviews

“In extending and deepening our understanding of Plato’s depiction of Socrates’ subtle sense of human motivation, thought and action, this book makes a valuable contribution to the large body of scholarship on the figure of Socrates.”

—Sara Brill, Polis