The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy

Paperback | January 15, 2014

byMartin Puchner

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Most philosophy has rejected the theater, denouncing it as a place of illusion or moral decay; the theater in turn has rejected philosophy, insisting that drama deals in actions, not ideas. Challenging both views, The Drama of Ideas shows that theater and philosophy have been cruciallyintertwined from the start.Plato is the presiding genius of this alternative history. The Drama of Ideas presents Plato not only as a theorist of drama, but also as a dramatist himself, one who developed a dialogue-based dramaturgy that differs markedly from the standard, Aristotelian view of theater. Puchner discovers scoresof dramatic adaptations of Platonic dialogues, the most immediate proof of Plato's hitherto unrecognized influence on theater history. Drawing on these adaptations, Puchner shows that Plato was central to modern drama as well, with figures such as Wilde, Shaw, Pirandello, Brecht, and Stoppard usingPlato to create a new drama of ideas. Puchner then considers complementary developments in philosophy, offering a theatrical history of philosophy that includes Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Burke, Sartre, Camus, and Deleuze. These philosophers proceed with constant reference to theater, using theatricalterms, concepts, and even dramatic techniques in their writings.The Drama of Ideas mobilizes this double history of philosophical theater and theatrical philosophy to subject current habits of thought to critical scrutiny. In dialogue with contemporary thinkers such as Martha Nussbaum, Iris Murdoch, and Alain Badiou, Puchner formulates the contours of a"dramatic Platonism." This new Platonism does not seek to return to an idealist theory of forms, but it does point beyond the reigning philosophies of the body, of materialism and of cultural relativism.

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Most philosophy has rejected the theater, denouncing it as a place of illusion or moral decay; the theater in turn has rejected philosophy, insisting that drama deals in actions, not ideas. Challenging both views, The Drama of Ideas shows that theater and philosophy have been cruciallyintertwined from the start.Plato is the presiding g...

Martin Puchner is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. He is the author of Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos and the Avant-Gardes and Stage Fright: Modernism, Anti-Theatricality, and Drama.

other books by Martin Puchner

Format:PaperbackDimensions:268 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:January 15, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199351961

ISBN - 13:9780199351961

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Table of Contents

I. The Poetics of the Platonic Dialogue1. Plato, Dramatist2. Tragedy, Comedy, Satyr Play3. Plato's DramaturgyII. A Brief History of the Socrates Play1. Socrates on Stage2. The Death of Socrates3. The Comic Stage PhilosopherIII. The Drama of Ideas1. August Strindberg and Georg Kaiser2. Oscar Wilde3. George Bernard Shaw4. Luigi Pirandello5. Bertolt Brecht6. Tom StoppardIV. Dramatic Philosophy1. Soren Kierkegaard2. Friedrich Nietzsche3. Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus4. Kenneth Burke5. Gilles DeleuzeV. The New Platonists1. Iris Murdoch2. Martha Nussbaum3. Alain BadiouEpilogue: Dramatic PlatonismAppendix 1: Socrates TitlesAppendix 2: Charting the Socrates PlayIndex