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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Almost all of Plato’s writings come in the form of a dialogue. Some are dramatic, others merely formalized discussion (compare the Phaedo and the Statesman); some are in direct speech, others narrated (compare the Gorgias and the Symposium); some seem to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, whereas others begin, or end, in the middle of things (compare the Euthydemus and the Philebus). This chapter argues that one cannot properly make sense of what Plato does if one ignores the effect on the arguments of dramatic context, allusion, characterization—indeed, of all the aspects of the style and drama of a dialogue. This effect is felt both particularly (where the dramatic detail alters radically how individual arguments are understood) and generally (where various strategies render the reader carefully reflective on what is said). The philosophical content of a dialogue is to be found, at least, in the dialogue as a whole. How Plato writes, therefore, is indivisible from what he is trying to say.

Keywords: Plato, dialogues, philosophy, drama, style

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