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Friday’S Footprint: Rethinking the Philebus on the Basis of Plato’s Political Philosophy

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image of Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought

A stimulus may be given to the interpretation of Plato's Philebus by no longer ignoring the impact of Plato's political philosophy. A first hint is the occurrence of astasiastotatēn (63e9), a notion exclusively functioning within Plato's politi¬cal philosophy and no less surprising, in the 'non-political' Philebus, than 'Friday's Footprint' was to Crusoe. A second hint is the stasis between epistēmai and hēdonai, only to be avoided by the exclusion of hēdonai unwilling to subordinate themselves to phronēsis/nous (63b2-64a6). A new reading of Philebus in light of these 'footprints' leads to the conclusion that not only the 'digressions' on ontology, cosmology and anthropology but also the analyses of hēdonai and epistēmai — in other words: the main body of Philebus — presuppose the substratum of Plato's political philosophy. Consciousness of this substratum contributes to understanding the content and course of the dialogue, and even to recognizing its unity.


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