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Hunting Plato's Agalmata

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Abstract:

In this essay I argue that to understand Plato's philosophy, we must understand why Plato presented this philosophy as dialogues: namely, works of literature. Plato's writing of philosophy corresponds to his understanding of philosophy as a transformative way of life, which must nevertheless present itself politically, to different types of people. As a model, I examine Lacan's famous reading of Plato's Symposium in his seminar of transference love in psychoanalysis. Unlike many other readings, Lacan focuses on Alcibiades' famous description of what caused his desire for Socrates: the supposition that beneath Socrates' Silenus-like language and appearance, there were agalmata, treasures, hidden in his belly. I argue that this image of Socrates can also stand as an image for how we ought to read and to teach Plato's philosophy: as harbouring different levels of insight, couched in Plato's philosophy as literature.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10848770903128422

Affiliations: Deakin University, School of International and Political Studies, Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy, Victoria, Australia, 3217

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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