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The Hermeneutics Of Madness: Poet And Philosopher In Plato's Ion And Phaedrus

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Chapter Summary

The apparent conflict between the critique of the poet in the Ion and the apparently more positive appraisal of the poet in the Phaedrus has not escaped the attention of most scholars. At the very outset of the Ion, Socrates attributes to the rhapsode a technê which he repeatedly claims to envy. Socrates seeks to show that Ion cannot possess a technê as a mere hermêneus because the thought he conveys, if any, is neither his nor that of the poet for whom he speaks. This incompatibility of the hermeneutics of the poet and rhapsode with thinking is further emphasized when Socrates insists on the madness of Ion and his audience by describing the way in which they cry and feel fear as if they were present at the scenes the poet describes. Philosophy is a constant and irresolvable tension between reason and inspiration and thus between self-control and madness.

Keywords: hermeneutics; Ion; Phaedrus; philosopher; poet



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