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1. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Theodore George Letter from the Edtior
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2. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Jessica Elbert Decker Everliving Fire: The Synaptic Motion of Life in Heraclitus
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This paper explores Heraclitus’s linguistic method as a structural expression of his cosmological philosophy. Through an analysis of the various kinds of motion that Heraclitus describes, including the crucial motion between opposites, this essay delineates the meaning of ‘everliving fire’ as emblematic of his cosmos. The image of the synapse frames this analysis as it is simultaneously a motion and an expression uniting two poles; ‘syn’ also invokes Heraclitus’s notion of ‘shared logos’ as xynon, contrasted with human incomprehension as axynetoi. The divine principle of Zeus and his thunderbolt serve as a source of motion; these motions of fire govern not only the cosmos, but human perception and thought.
3. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Jean De Groot Why Epistemology Is Not Ancient: From Device and Drama into Philosophy
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This paper traces the significance of first principles (archai) in Greek philosophy to cognitive developments in colonial Greek Italy in the late fifth century BC. Conviction concerning principles comes from the power to make something true by action. Pairing and opposition, the forerunners of metonymy, are shown to structure disparate cultural phenomena—the making of figured numbers, the sundial, and the production, with the aid of device, of fear or panic in the spectators of Greek tragedy. From these starting points, the function of the gnômôn in knowledge is explored.
4. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
G. R. F. Ferrari Plato the Writer
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In this talk I consider a body of my more recent work in order to isolate the shared approach that it takes to reading Platonic dialogue, an approach which had been absent from my writing on Plato up to that point and is largely absent from any of the traditions that influence how most of us read Plato. Its key feature is a refusal to treat the character Socrates as operating as if he were Plato’s secret agent within the dialogue—as if one should attribute to Socrates all of the cunning and the control with which one might credit instead the author who scripted Socrates’s habitual triumphs. The focus of this new approach is rather on Plato’s “writerly” philosophizing: on how Plato exploits the distinction between what he and his character Socrates are up to as philosophers in order to guide our sense of his own activity and aims as a philosophic writer.
5. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Sarah Jansen Audience Psychology and Censorship in Plato’s Republic: The Problem of the Irrational Part
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In Republic X, the “problem of the irrational part” is this: Greek tragedy interacts with non-reasoning elements of the soul, affecting audiences in ways that undermine their reasoned views about virtue and value. I suggest that the common construal of Socrates’s critique of Greek tragedy is inadequate, in that it belies key elements of Plato’s audience psychology; specifically, (1) the crucial role of the spirited part and (2) the audience’s cognitive contribution to spectatorship. I argue that Socrates’s emphasis on the audience’s cognitive contribution to spectatorship allows him to anticipate a non-authoritarian solution to the problem of the irrational part.
6. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Francisco J. Gonzalez "I Have to Live in Eros": Heidegger's 1932 Seminar on Plato's Phaedrus
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Heidegger’s recently published 1932 seminar on Plato’s Phaedrus arguably represents his most successful dialogue with Plato, where such dialogue is characterized by both the deepest affinity and the most incisive opposition. The central thesis of Heidegger’s interpretation is that the Phaedrus is not simply a logos about eros, but rather an attempt to show that eros is the very essence of logos and that logos is thereby in its very essence dia-logue. Heidegger is thus here more attuned than ever before to the erotic and dialogical character of philosophy while at the same time concerned with how this conception of philosophy can lead to the eclipse of being and truth.
7. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Robert D. Metcalf The Situation of Epistemology in Plato’s Theaetetus
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While it may be controversial to categorize Plato’s Theatetetus as “epistemological,” given what is implied by this term, the dialogue does offer a discourse on knowledge, at least in the minimal sense of questioning knowledge. But more than that, the dialogue “situates” its questioning, and its critical examination of attempted definitions of knowledge, in two ways that are particularly illuminating: first, its dramatization of Socrates coming-to-know Theaetetus through philosophical dialogue; second, its taking for granted a whole array of epistemic practices and keeping them in view, peripherally, throughout the discussion. The most interesting example of the latter is found in the famous Digression of the Theaetetus, where the difference between philosophy and rhetoric is understood in terms of the knowledge/lack-of-knowledge belonging to each.
8. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Jeremy R. Bell ἡ δημεραστία: Plato’s Contest between Care and ἡ νομοθετική
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This article analyzes the relationship between ethics and politics in Plato’s dialogues. I argue that Plato set forth the care of the self as the organizing principle of ethics and as the idealized form of politics, both of which are conceived of as practices of care insofar as they are directed toward the attainment of the good. I conclude by demonstrating that, while the idealized form of politics is conceived of as a practice of care, such care turns against and resists real world politics insofar as the latter falls short of this ideal; thus, the ethics of the care of the self emerges as a form of political critique.
9. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Michael Wiitala Non-Being and the Structure of Privative Forms in Plato’s Sophist
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In Plato’s Statesman, the Eleatic Stranger explains that the division of all human beings into Greek and barbarian is mistaken in that it fails to divide reality into genuine classes or forms (eide). The division fails because “barbarian” names a privative form, that is, a form properly indicated via negation: non-Greek. This paper examines how the Stranger characterizes privative forms in the Sophist. I argue that although the Stranger is careful to define privative forms as fully determinate, he nevertheless characterizes them as having a structure unlike that of their non-privative counterparts. A privative form, in contrast to a non-privative form, is indifferent to the specificity of its members.
10. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Lawrence J. Hatab A Story of Unrequited Love: The Tragic Character of Aristotle’s Philosophy
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Aristotle’s Poetics defends the value of tragic poetry, presumably to counter Plato’s critique in the Republic. Can this defense resonate with something larger and rather surprising, that Aristotle’s overall philosophy displays a tragic character? I define the tragic as pertaining to indigenous and inescapable limits on life, knowledge, control, achievement, and agency. I explore how such limits figure in Aristotle’s physics, metaphysics, and biological works. Accordingly I want to disturb the common account of Aristotle’s thought as a neat system of ontological order and metaphysical closure—not to exclude such elements but to place them within a world-view that includes certain limits at the edges of being.
11. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Eve Rabinoff Rational and Non-rational Perception in Aristotle's De Anima
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The bulk of the account of perception that Aristotle offers in De Anima focuses on analyzing the operation of the five senses and the reception of their respective objects. On Aristotle’s own terms, this analysis is an incomplete account of perception, for it does not explain how perception operates in the life of an animal, with the aim of supporting a certain kind of life. This paper aims to supplement the account of the five senses by considering perception in the context of human life. I argue that human perception, i.e., rational perception, differs from non-rational perception insofar as the latter is perspectival—that is, the non-rational animal perceives objects only in light of its needs and desires—whereas the former is non-perspectival—that is, a person perceives objects as independent of and exceeding her desires.
12. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Jeffrey D. Gower The Sovereign and the Exile: Archytas and Aristotle on the Living Law
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This essay explores the historical roots of biopolitics by investigating the structural homology between the supremely virtuous king discussed in Aristotle’s Politics and the sovereign living law advanced in On Law and Justice, accepted here as authored by Archytas of Tarentum. Archytas’s sovereign incarnates a divine law in order to ground the written law of the city and to constitute the way of life proper to the citizenry. The identity of life and law in his person exempts this sovereign from the written laws he grounds just as Aristotle’s king cannot be subjected to law because he is a law unto himself. Despite this homology, Archytas’s sovereign exemplifies a highly determinate way of life fully constituted by law while an analysis of Aristotle’s king reveals a double determination of the virtuous exemplar as both sovereign and exile. This double determination both exhibits and complicates the logic of exclusion that, for Agamben, makes Western politics biopolitical from its inception.
13. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Theodore George Letter from the Editor
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14. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Scott F. Aikin Xenophanes the High Rationalist: The Case of F1:17-8
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Scholarship on Xenophanes’s F1 has had two foci, one on the rules of the symposium and the other on the religious program posed at its close. Thus far, the two areas of focus have been treated as either separate issues or as the religious program proposed in the service of the sympotic objectives. Instead, I will argue that the sympotic norms Xenophanes espouses are in the service of the broader program of rational theology.
15. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
S. Montgomery Ewegen 'An Inconsistent Ado About Matters of No Consequence': Comic Turns in Plato's "Euthydemus"
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Scholarship on the Euthydemus has largely focused on the protreptic character of the Euthydemus—that is, the manner by which Socrates attempts to turn the young Cleinias toward philosophy. By focusing on the dramatic structure of the text, and above all its comic tenor, this article argues that it is Crito—he to whom Socrates tells his hilarious story of his encounter with the two sophist-brothers—who is the real object of Socrates’s protreptic speech.
16. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Joe Balay "The Special (Dis)Advantage of the Beautiful" in Gadamer's Plato Reading
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In this paper, I examine two important claims that Hans-Georg Gadamer makes in his Plato interpretations. The first claim is found at the end of Wahrheit und Methode, where Gadamer suggests that “the special advantage of the beautiful” in Platonic philosophy is both a shelter and a reminder of the good, as well as the structure of eidetic appearance that brings together ideality and appearance in the event of new understanding. The second claim considered here is Gadamer’s suggestion that while non-being is more alive in Plato than Heidegger’s critique of metaphysics admits, a genuine thinking of semblance remains only “subliminal” in Plato. Drawing these two claims together, I argue that Gadamer’s reading of Plato’s Philebus reveals that the nature of the beautiful grounds semblance in a deeper way than even Gadamer recognizes. Specifically, I contend that beauty’s appearance is both a necessary concretion of the dynamic mixture of the good, the limited, and the unlimited, and yet, as just this concrete appearance it also always dissembles this ongoing dynamic. As the context of the Philebus indicates, however, this is a claim that concerns not only human experience, but ontology itself. In the end, such a finding contributes to a more Socratic interpretation of Platonic wisdom and philosophical hermeneutics, suggesting that genuine knowledge begins with the recognition of the limits and vulnerability of understanding.
17. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Véronique M. Fóti Revisiting Greek Tragedy in Dialogue with Jacques Taminiaux
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In Le théatre des philosophes, Taminiaux suggests that both German Idealism and Heidegger understand Greek tragedy as ontological in its import. So does Plato who, however, censures it for the inadequacy of its ontological vision, which he seeks to correct by means of the aesthetic education of the guardians of the ideal city. Taminiaux stresses that Aristotle understands tragedy as a mimēsis of action which is pluralistic, willing to engage with appearances, and oriented toward phronēsis. A key question concerns his understanding of the katharsis or purification of powerful passions, treated here as a cognitive clarification requiring the intense passional engagement that Plato censors. In response to Taminiaux’s claim that Hölderlin’s tragic inspiration is Aristotelian, this essay explores his understanding of tragic purification. In separating the hybristic union of god and man, such purification restores the possibility of interlocutory praxis.
18. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Russell Winslow Biological Meaning
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In the following article, the author offers an interpretation of George Canguilhem’s thinly articulated concept “biological meaning.” As a way into the problem, the article begins with the question: how does “biological meaning” differ from other forms of meaning? That is to ask, if we are to hold that the mere physical/chemical mode of being of a stone differs from the biological mode of being of an organism, how do they differ in their meaning? In an effort to supply an answer to this question, our author postulates that, when we consider the lived circumstances of the organism, the existential situation of living beings, their biological facticity, then we intuit a fundamental difference in the mode of being of the motions of billiard balls and those of organisms. Moreover, through the investigation into, on the one hand, the motions that take place in a living milieu and, on the other hand, the form of potentiality inherent in what we might call the motions of adaptation, the author offers a preliminary description of a meaning that might be uniquely biological.
19. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Christophe Perrin From Metaphysics to the Juridical: Heidegger and the Question of Law
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Philosophy of Law sometimes refers to Heidegger, yet Heidegger does not explicitly tackle this area of philosophy. In this paper, I will argue that it is actually possible to bring to light a theory of law in Heidegger’s writings. Such a theory would help juridical thought by tracing it back to its metaphysical presuppositions.
20. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Golfo Maggini Europe's Janus Head: Jan Patocka’s Notion of “Overcivilization”
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Jan Patocka’s idea of Europe can be viewed as a continuation of Edmund Husserl’s reflections on the issue. Still, the differences are numerous and worthy to be studied, especially in today’s critical times for Europe’s future. Patocka doubts the teleological, rationality-based determination of Europe’s identity, and, following that, the diagnosis of Europe’s current crisis as a deficiency in rationalization, which could be in its turn overcome by a surplus of rationalization. Patocka’s early differentiation from Husserl’s intellectualist account of European humanity will lead to an integral, phenomenology-inspired philosophy of the European civilization. For Patocka, the prevailing of the “hegemonic” against the “universalist” Europe means a fall behind the standards of European humanity, to that of the mere biological level, as specified by today’s preponderant economy-oriented discourse. For him, the seeming victory of the “hegemonic” over the “universalist” Europe is false, because it already contains the seeds of its self-destruction.