This book reconnoiters the appearances of the exceptional in Plato: as erotic desire (in the Symposium and Phaedrus), as the good city (Republic), and as the philosopher (Ion, Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman). It offers fresh and sometimes radical interpretations of these dialogues.
Those exceptional elements of experience – love, city, philosopher – do not escape embodiment but rather occupy the same world that contains lamentable versions of each. Thus Pappas is depicting the philosophical ambition to intensify the concepts and experiences one normally thinks with. His investigations point beyond the fates of these particular exceptions to broader conclusions about Plato’s world.
Plato’s Exceptional City, Love, and Philosopher will be of interest to any readers of Plato, and of ancient philosophy more broadly.
Table of Contents
Epigraph and Note
Part I: Why Love Must Be Good
Kinds of erôs in Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus
1. Congenital love: Aristophanic erôs in the Symposium
2. Telling good love from bad: erôs in the Phaedrus
Part II: How a City is Made Better
The polis in Plato’s Republic
3. Speaking of tyrants: Gyges and the Republic’s city
4. The news of the new city
5. "And then I saw": The myth of Er and the future city
Part III: Where to Find the Best Philosophers
The philosophos in Plato’s Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman
6. "You wise people": The Ion on what sets a philosopher apart
7. Philosophers at last: Theaetetus, Socrates, and the head philosopher
8. The Sophist: The sophist with and without philosophy
9. The Statesman: The little difference that makes philosophy
Nickolas Pappas is Professor of Philosophy at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he has taught since 1993. Since 2017 he has been Executive Officer of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center. His books include the Routledge Philosophical Guidebook to Plato and the Republic (Third Edition, 2013); Politics and Philosophy in in Plato’s Menexenus: Education and Rhetoric, Myth and History (co-written with Mark Zelcer, 2015); and most recently The Philosopher’s New Clothes: The Theaetetus, the Academy, and Philosophy’s Turn against Fashion (2016). He has written numerous short pieces on topics in ancient philosophy and the philosophy of art, including the entry "Plato’s Aesthetics" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.