Philosophical image-making and dianoia in Plato's Republic.

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Lee, Alexander.
Description:201 p.
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330.
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago.
Notes:Advisors: Elizabeth Asmis; Gabriel R. Lear.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--The University of Chicago, Division of the Humanities, Department of Classsics: Classical Languages and Literatures, 2015.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 76-08(E), Section: A.
Summary:This dissertation presents a detailed examination of image-making in the Republic. Also known as similes, parables, or comparisons, images (eikones) feature prominently in the dialogue and are perhaps best known through Socrates' presentation of the Sun, Divided Line, and Cave in books 6-7. Yet Socrates uses many other images throughout the argument, and indeed the dialogue's central comparison between state and soul is built around the image of the ideally just city, Kallipolis. Socrates' fondness for image-making, however, exposes him to the charge of inconsistency. His images are vivid and arresting, and in many ways they end up resembling the very sort of poetry that he criticizes in the dialogue. How can he banish the traditional poets from Kallipolis, while at the same time weaving his own sort of poetry into the argument that he puts forward in favor of justice? Indeed, this issue points to a larger potential inconsistency in the Republic, between the method that we see Socrates using in the discussion and the methodology that he puts forward within that same discussion. Socrates puts a great deal of focus on the philosopher-ruler's education and his exercise of the two intellectual modes of cognition, dianoia and dialectic. Yet as he is depicted in the dialogue, Socrates does not appear to engage in philosophy in the same way as the philosopher-rulers. The differences are especially evident when he makes use of more "poetic" devices, such as image and myth. My examination brings to light the basic features of Socrates' images and identifies the function that they serve in the dialogue. Frequently the argument puts forward claims that Socrates' interlocutors reject, and in these instances he uses images to help make these claims more acceptable. The effectiveness of images in this role can be explained by means of doctrines presented in the dialogue itself, in particular the tripartite psychology and the notion of patterns. Ultimately I advance the claim that philosophical image-making should be understood as a type of dianoia. Thus it falls under the mode of cognition that is assigned to the third segment of the Divided Line, which Socrates explains by describing how mathematicians rely on hypotheses in their inquiries while at the same time making conscious use of perceptibles as images. Given that Socrates also prescribes for the prospective philosophers in Kallipolis a lengthy course of mathematical studies as a propaedeutic to dialectic, interpretations of dianoia have typically focused on mathematics, but I argue that the possibility remains for dianoia to be exercised in other ways. An understanding of philosophical image-making as dianoia helps show how it can resemble poetry while remaining importantly distinct from it. In the Divided Line's classification of cognitive modes, mimetic poetry belongs under eikasia, and the parallels between the two activities arise from the fact that each stands in the lower subsection of its respective realm: poetry in the realm of the visible and philosophical image-making in the realm of the intelligible. This interpretation also reveals the continuity between the philosopher-rulers' activities in Kallipolis and Socrates' own philosophical activity in the world of the dialogue: Both sides engage in dianoia and dialectic, but Socrates must adapt each cognitive mode to the non-ideal context in which he operates.