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Antidotes And Incantations: Is There A Cure For Poetry In Plato's Republic?

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Chapter Summary

It is a factor of cardinal importance not only for the reading of Plato's dialogues but for the whole history of Western aesthetics that as regards the philosophical evaluation of poetry one can identify not just one but two 'Platos', and in consequence two possible Platonisms-two ways of thinking which can both lay claim to some basis within arguments and feelings expressed in Plato's work. Admittedly, it is possible to find passages in Plato where drugs and incantations operate together, including the riddling passage of Charmides where Socrates purports to have 'Thracian' cure for headaches which combines the two. There is, no cure for poetry in Plato's Republic, only prescription to counteract a potentially pathological addiction to the emotional needs released by poetry with a commitment to search for way of rechannelling the erôs that drives those needs into forms of poetic experience which harmonise pleasure with truth and goodness.

Keywords: incantations; Plato's Republic; poetry



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