In Praise of Plato's Poetic Imagination

In Praise of Plato's Poetic Imagination

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This book examines the role Plato accords to imagination in the ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy. Claiming that the function of imagination evokes a realm of praxis within Plato's dialogues heretofore largely unrecognized, this book offers an interpretation of Plato that challenges the more orthodox view in which poetry and the arts are denigrated, and indeed, seen as eradicable from the dialogues altogether.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 22.86mm | 430.91g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739143387
  • 9780739143384

Review quote

Tanner's book is a creative exploration of Plato's use of the imagination and its many layers in the dialogues. She offers substantive contributions to the 'quarrel' between philosophy and poetry and to contemporary hermeneutics of Plato. -- Marina McCoy, Boston College In this lucidly written and engaging book, Sonja Tanner provides an innovative interpretation of the concept of imagination in Plato's dialogues. Tanner not only rethinks the role imagination plays in Plato's portrayal of the uneasy yet productive tension between poetry and philosophy, but also extends her analysis to modern debates about the relationship between literature and philosophy. -- Dmitri Nikulin, Professor of Philosophy, New School for Social Research Scholars commonly depict Plato as the archenemy of poetry. This view stems in large part from Socrates' harsh treatment of poets in Republic II, III, and X; however, it also rests on the questionable assumption that Socrates spoke for Plato. Such an assumption, Tanner (Univ. of Colorado at Colorado Springs) insists, flatly ignores the role of literary form in Plato's work. When one takes into consideration that Plato wrote dialogues, not treatises; that the dialogues have poetic features; and that they often violate Plato's alleged prohibitions against quoting and imitating poets, Plato's attitude toward poetry emerges in a different light. Far from being opposed, philosophy and poetry are very much intertwined for Plato; the form of the dialogues contributes to their content. Vital to understanding this relationship is the imagination, though not only in what Plato says of it explicitly but also in how it functions within the dialogues themselves. In the end, though not everyone will agree with Tanner's self-professed 'continental' approach to Platonic studies or find her arguments compelling, her monograph will certainly generate much thought and scholarly discussion. Recommended. CHOICE, November 2010 By the time Plato takes up the question of how we are to speak truthfully, the quarrel between the two imposing forms of such speech-philosophy and poetry-was already 'ancient.' And it remains a question that is unsettled and unsettling today. Rather than insisting upon a quarrelsome relation, Sonja Tanner argues that this matter is best understood as an infinite dialog that enriches those who engage it, and she shows how imagination assists in the birth of wisdom. Thus begins her real contribution to a conversation that must never end. -- Dennis J. Schmidt, Pennsylvania State University
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About Sonja Tanner

Sonja Tanner is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
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Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 1. A History of the Ancient "Quarrel"-The Philosophical "Side" Chapter 2. On the "Side" of Poetry in the Ancient "Quarrel" Chapter 3: Imagination in the Sophist Chapter 4. The Pharmacological Structure of the Imagination Chapter 5. The Unity of Form and Content in Platonic Dialogues Chapter 6. Imagination and the Ancient "Quarrel"
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