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Genres in Dialogue
Plato and the Construct of Philosophy


  • Date Published: December 1995
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521482646

£ 67.00

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About the Authors
  • This 1995 book takes as its starting point Plato's incorporation of specific genres of poetry and rhetoric into his dialogues. The author argues that Plato's 'dialogues' with traditional genres are part and parcel of his effort to define 'philosophy'. Before Plato, 'philosophy' designated 'intellectual cultivation' in the broadest sense. When Plato appropriated the term for his own intellectual project, he created a new and specialised discipline. In order to define and legitimise 'philosophy', Plato had to match it against genres of discourse that had authority and currency in democratic Athens. By incorporating the text or discourse of another genre, Plato 'defines' his new brand of wisdom in opposition to traditional modes of thinking and speaking. By targeting individual genres of discourse Plato marks the boundaries of 'philosophy' as a discursive and as a social practice.

    • An investigation of Plato's 'invention' of philosophy
    • A literary and historical study of Plato
    • Well received and well written book on a question of current interest
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… [a] brilliantly suggestive book, giving us … ways of locating the dialogues in their 'socio-political' context, and of thinking about Plato as a philosophical writer.' Phronesis

    'The merits of Nightingale's book are considerable. It deals with many questions of language and discourse that are dear to postmodernists, but it treats them with clarity which an analytic philosopher will appreciate.' Review of Metaphysics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 1995
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521482646
    • length: 240 pages
    • dimensions: 238 x 164 x 27 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Abbreviations and texts
    1. Plato, Isocrates and the property of philosophy
    2. Use and abuse of Athenian tragedy
    3. Eulogy, irony, parody
    4. Alien and authentic discourse
    5. Philosophy and comedy
    General index
    Index of passages from Plato.

  • Author

    Andrea Wilson Nightingale, Stanford University, California

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