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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 79, Issue 2, Spring 2005

Jacob Howland
Pages 213-232

Storytelling and Philosophy in Plato’s Republic

Scholarly convention holds that logos and muthos are in Plato’s mind fundamentally opposed, the former being the medium of philosophy and the latter of poetry. I argue that muthos in the broad sense of story or narrative in fact plays an indispensable philosophical role in the Republic. In particular, any account of the nature and power of justice and injustice must begin with powers of the soul that can come to light only through the telling and interpretation of stories. This is implicit in Glaucon’s Gygean tale. Read in connection with the earlier tale of Gyges in Herodotus, Glaucon’s muthos shows itself to be a story about storytelling and interpretation, knowledge of self and others, and the discovery of the roots of justice and injustice.

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