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date: 23 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

For many readers, the perspectives of Plato and Thucydides are fundamentally incompatible. Plato’s authentic philosophers allegedly occupy an unchanging world of intellectual forms or ideas. Thucydides’ world is passionate and disrupted. If we agree with these assessments, we find two authors speaking such different languages that prospects for dialogue between them seem impossible. I want to challenge that conclusion by suggesting that we can read Thucydides and Plato more dialogically. I try to show how each author opens possibilities for dialogic engagement with his own text and then indicate areas of plausible exchange between them. This interactive reading avoids the binary frames of reference of abstract and illusory peace or ongoing and inescapable war, drawing attention to experiences in need of continued intellectual negotiation and opening spaces for practical improvement. Beyond expanding our understanding of these authors, such mutual readings help us to appreciate their contributions to conversational political theory.

Keywords: Plato, Thucydides, political theory, war, peace, choice, necessity

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