Volume 25, Issue 2, Spring 2021
The Ion and Creativity
Readings of Plato’s Ion are usually guided by one of two broad assumptions about the nature of the text. The Romantic school sees the dialogue as making explicit the idea of Genius, and of the artist as a privileged seer of hidden truths. The Rationalist tendency sees the dialogue as a Socratic attack on poetry, of a piece with other dialogues—most notably, the Republic—that also critique the art. In this paper, I claim that applying a phenomenological method to the dialogue uncovers a way beyond the impasse between these two schools. Specifically, I argue that we must turn our attention away from the question of whether poetry is a human art or divinely inspired, and toward the phenomenon at the heart of the dialogue, which is poetry itself, or better put, the creative act that generates poetic language. Moreover, the Ion itself calls for such a reading.