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02/27/2013

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Jesse Goldberg

I really like this post (predictably, probably). The analogy between the staffers who were indignant that the terrible tweet was taken down and Thrasymachus is interesting, but perhaps depressing. One interpretation of Thrasymachus' anger in Book I, that I believe I first heard from Professor Levy, is that Plato is offering a small but important critique of Socrates' methodology by offering the limits of his effectiveness in accomplishing his goal of improving the character of his interlocutors by helping them see the limits of their own knowledge. The interpretation goes, that Socrates' method of the rational dialogue which depends upon socially common definitions and utmost clarity and precision doesn't work on everyone, and that some people, like Thrasymachus, can't be convinced to actually question their position. Your analogy gives me pause, then, especially alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates' tweets about "conversations on race" yesterday and the fallacy of "if you knew more you'd think differently." I will have to remember not to become comfortable in just one method of interrogating racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., in the future, because if the famous Socratic dialogue can't always be depended upon, then what can? Just like I will have to be just as mindful about the narrative economies of philosophical texts as I am about literary texts (as if they're different) in the future, since in my first reading of The Republic I didn't register the narratives contingency on slavery.

Beth McCoy

Thank you for contributing this comment, Jesse. Will keep you posted about my [re]encounters next books that you know so well--just got to the end of Book II and am amused by (and thus will probably write about) the threat to cut off funding for the theatre. Plus ça change...

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