The Ethics of Legacy

Seán Burke

in The Ethics of Writing

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780748618309
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652075 | DOI:
The Ethics of Legacy

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This chapter addresses the central issue of how Plato might discriminate between suitable and unsuitable readers of a discourse. It also illustrates how dialectical orality is ethically consistent, and then reveals epistemological weaknesses produced by the conversational method. Dialogue establishes a structure whereby reception may be monitored through dual and complementary strategies. The interrogatory method serves an epistemological aim in concert with this attempt to restrain discursive transmission. In dialogic form, the Phaedrus reflects upon the centrality of the conversational method to the epistemological as well as ethical and pedagogic aims of the Socratic–Platonic philosophy. To ask who are the ‘suitable’ and ‘unsuitable’ readers demarcated in the Phaedrus may on first inspection seem redundant, a false trail. Censorship would spare Socrates his considerable labours in the closing section of the Phaedrus. It counters with an image system that comprises gardens, suitable soil, boundary, defence, enclosure, and cultivation.

Keywords: Plato; dialectical orality; conversational method; dialogue; Phaedrus; Socrates; Socratic–Platonic philosophy

Chapter.  18554 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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