Volume 13, Issue 2, Spring 2009
Selected Articles of the Ancient Philosophy Society
Plato and Hegel on an Old Quarrel
This paper addresses the relationship of ancients to moderns by focusing on the “quarrel” between art and philosophy that has led to two articulations of the end
of art—one in antiquity, another in modernity: Plato, who expelled the poets from his city on account of art’s irrationality, and Hegel, for whom art was no more the necessary vehicle for truth. Following Giorgio Agamben’s cue in The Man Without Content, I opt for a symptomatic reading of Plato’s condemnation of art, by foregrounding his ambivalence toward poetry. I conclude that, whereas Hegel found poetry wanting, Plato understood poetry’s truth to be tragically excessive.