Plato on the Limits of Human Life (Studies in Continental by Sara Brill

By Sara Brill

Via concentrating on the immortal personality of the soul in key Platonic dialogues, Sara Brill exhibits how Plato considered the soul as remarkably versatile, advanced, and indicative of the interior workings of political existence and associations. As she explores the nature of the soul, Brill finds the corrective functionality that legislation and fantasy serve. If the soul is unlimited, she claims, then the town needs to serve a regulatory or prosthetic functionality and prop up reliable political associations opposed to the specter of the soul’s extra. Brill’s sensitivity to dramatic components and discursive innovations in Plato’s dialogues illuminates the intimate connection among urban and soul.

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Socrates’s equivocation between being one who philosophizes rightly and the more qualified description of himself as having attempted to become one who philosophizes rightly, as well as the uncertainty of knowing if he has done so until he is already dead, and finally his invocation of the prothumia necessary in doing so, remind us of the curious nature of this attempted separation, which seems to require the cooperation of the very things one is attempting to separate. The meaning of this practice, even as it has been described in the defense, requires much further elaboration.

The Body-like Soul | 39 Socrates’s version of the ancient account suggests that if his interlocutors want to understand the immortality of soul, they must adjust their scale beyond that of a single life to the field of becoming as such. Thus, one effect of Socrates’s deployment of this mythopoetic tradition is its deflection of attention away from the demise of Socrates and toward the nature of genesis itself. States Socrates: “Now if you want to understand this more easily, don’t look only to human beings but also to all animals and plants.

20 Why the philosopher would be particularly interested in this release is made clear in the lines that follow: the body is an impediment to the attainment of thoughtfulness (th;n th:V fronhvsewV kth:sin) because our physical senses are neither precise nor clear (mh; ajkribei:V eijsin mhde; safei:V) (65b). They continue with the following exchange: “So when does the soul get in touch with the truth [Povte ouj:n, hj: d’ oJvV, hJ yuch; th:V ajlhqeivaV aJvptetai]? ” (65b–c) There are several important characteristics of soul asserted in these lines.

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