Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2005

Special Issue: The Ancient Philosophy Society

Sara Brill
Pages 297-315

Diagnosis and the Divided Line
Pharmacological Concerns in Plato’s Republic

From the care Plato takes in describing the excellence of the doctor in book 3 to the characterization of various pathological elements in the regimes he describes in book 8, the Republic teems with references to medical terms and concepts. The following investigates the breadth of the influence of medicine on the Republic. I argue that a medical vocabulary proves indispensable to indicating the relationship between philosophy and politics that the Republic envisages. In order to do so, this paper examines the confluence of medicine and metaphysics revealed by a comparison between the discussion of the divided line and ancient characterizations of diagnosis. I then conclude with a reading of the Glaucus image in book 10 that emphasizes its self-diagnostic character.

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