Hic Sunt Leones: Mythologies and Partisan Constructions of the Good Philosopher in Plato

Mythologies of the Good Philosopher, White South African Philosophy’s Imaginary and Its Resistances to Itself - Part I

Keywords: Plato, dialectic, demarcation, partisanship, sophistics, agonistics, delegitimation

Abstract

Plato constructs the philosopher in contrast to the sophist. Both sophistical and rhetorical logos, in their epistemic closeness to philosophical logos, require a constant act of demarcation throughout Plato’s works. The challenge posed by the sophists creates a constant, instable tension in several Platonic dialogues. Why is the Athenian philosopher obsessed by a different yet comparable approach to virtue, knowledge and social order? Why does the Athenian philosopher need and, at the same time, reject the sophist when it comes to shaping his own self-image? To try to answer these questions, I will go back to a foundational moment where the Platonic philosopher is theoretically constructed and conceptually produced against the sophist, namely, Plato’s Sophist, Statesman, Protagoras, Gorgias and Phaedrus. The aim of the article is to show how the Platonic philosopher is conveniently defined through a series of partisan demarcations grounded on ontological privilege, epistemic exclusion, ethical circularity and, ultimately, political delegitimation.

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Published
2019-12-17
Section
RESEARCH ARTICLES