Xenophon | Socrates | Apology (Plato)
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Reason and persuasion | Apology (Plato) | Socrates
Some of the furor surrounding deconstruction has now died down, and discussion need no longer be in terms of endorsement or rejection. This essay explores one case in which the language of Plato's Ion, seen through deconstructive glasses, can unsettle the ostensibly fixed polarity of reason and inspiration. I try to trace the consequences of borrowing an interpretive strategy, while not embracing the basic tenets of deconstruction. Section I outlines the contrast set out in the Ion between reason and inspiration in the activity of the rhapsode. Then, focusing on the word (mind), Section II considers the instability of that contrast. Such speculation begins, in a very traditional manner, by finding and articulating the apparent intentions of a text, the dominant rhetoric, what it 'means'. But then, in a manner borrowed from deconstruction, this reading of the text is unsettled by recovering the latent reverberations of the language, which can upset the dominant rhetoric. In a fashion appropriate to Plato's early dialogues, this essay then ends with a question mark (Section III); my musings, in the end, may not elaborate the instability of language itself (as in more committed deconstruction), but rather the instability of the rhapsode Ion's own use of language. In this way, these somewhat tame deconstructive moves may embellish and deepen (rather than subvert and refute) more traditional modes of interpretation. Finally, there is an appendix, something of a palinode.
Socrates and Plato (or Socrates is Plato?) | philastockton
The postulated contrast between reason and inspiration is drawn by a univocal, denotative reading; the dominant rhetoric of the text has established this contrast. Plato has used the language to make a clear separation between the two sources of interpretive ability. In a deconstructive reading, however, any term in any text is an unstable accumulation of expectations and anticipations, resonances and recollections. Also, in a deconstructive reading, there are no dead metaphors; we are enjoined to unpack etymologies and idiomatic phrases, even (and especially) if they do not support the argument of the text. A deconstructive reading sets aside the controlling expectations of unity, coherence, and denotative meaning, all of which guide most of our readings: we are advised to look for unwanted associations that unravel the weave of the univocal reading. The thread which I shall pull here is the use of as an exclusive property of REASON. It is used most explicitly in the explanation of the simile of the magnet- stone (534b3-6):
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