Monday, February 25, 2008

Romano, Carlin. "Socrates in the 21st Century." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION February 15, 2008.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of Wilson's book is her lack of attention to the wealth of scholarship re-examining the ancient public-relations triumph by which Plato identified 'philosophy' with his teacher's supposed essentialist attraction to absolutist definitions of concepts. To do so, Plato delegitimized the more pragmatic vision of philosophy, and claim to that word, of the great rhetorician and philosopher Isocrates (436-338 BC), Socrates' younger contemporary, who astonishingly doesn't get a single mention in Wilson's book. (Navia notes the mutual respect expressed between Socrates and Isocrates.) Groundbreaking research by scholars like Yun Lee Too, John and Takis Poulakos, Edward Schiappa, and others has established that our modern-day conception of philosophy as what the Platonic Socrates did, as opposed to what Isocrates did (think of him as an Athenian John Dewey), relies on a simplistic adoption of the Platonic Socrates as the criterion of true philosophy. Wilson indeed alludes to a truth on which this scholarship has shone fresh light. She writes that "in the fifth century B.C. nobody could have known that Socrates' limited set of interests would be identified with all true wisdom or 'philosophy' ('the love of wisdom')". . . .

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