Rhapsody of Philosophy

Rhapsody of Philosophy: Dialogues with Plato in Contemporary Thought

Max Statkiewicz
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Rhapsody of Philosophy
    Book Description:

    This book proposes to rethink the relationship between philosophy and literature through an engagement with Plato’s dialogues. The dialogues have been seen as the source of a long tradition that subordinates poetry to philosophy, but they may also be approached as a medium for understanding how to overcome this opposition. Paradoxically, Plato then becomes an ally in the attempt “to overturn Platonism,” which Gilles Deleuze famously defined as the task of modern philosophy. Max Statkiewicz identifies a “rhapsodic mode” initiated by Plato in the dialogues and pursued by many of his modern European commentators, including Nietzsche, Heidegger, Irigaray, Derrida, and Nancy. The book articulates this rhapsodic mode as a way of entering into true dialogue (dia-logos), which splits any univocal meaning and opens up a serious play of signification both within and between texts. This mode, he asserts, employs a reading of Plato that is distinguished from interpretations emphasizing the dialogues as a form of dogmatic treatise, as well as from the dramatic interpretations that have been explored in recent Plato scholarship—both of which take for granted the modern notion of the subject. Statkiewicz emphasizes the importance of the dialogic nature of the rhapsodic mode in the play of philosophy and poetry, of Platonic and modern thought—and, indeed, of seriousness and play. This highly original study of Plato explores the inherent possibilities of Platonic thought to rebound upon itself and engender further dialogues.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-05501-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. A Polemic Introduction
    (pp. 1-34)

    “The task of modern philosophy has been defined: to overturn Platonism.”¹ Gilles Deleuze’s claim expresses the sentiment of many writers, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Jean-Luc Nancy. But would they also agree with Deleuze when he ascribes to Plato himself the leading role in this task?² This would require a kind of dialogue with Plato rather than a univocal interpretation of his meaning, a play that would take into account the “rhapsodic” mode of his own dialogues, adia-logosthat would eventually split the dominant logos of Western (Platonic) metaphysics rather than reversing its terms in a simple duologue. This book...

  5. 1 Platonic Theater: Rigor and Play in the Republic (Genette and Lacoue-Labarthe)
    (pp. 35-69)

    The quarrel (diaphora) between philosophy and poetry, which was already old when Socrates announced it in the tenth book of Plato’sRepublic, has grown older and older, but it has retained its original opposition between truth as the principle of philosophy and mimesis as the (non) principle of poetry, literature, art. Nietzsche formulated this opposition most dramatically as the “dreadful, raging discordance” (ein Entsetzen erregender Zwiespalt) between art and truth, and it became the basis of his philosophical project of the reversal of Platonism.¹ Even though Heidegger, in his interpretation of Plato’s quarrel and of Nietzsche’s discordance, questioned the terms...

  6. 2 Le Beau Jeu: The Play of Beauty and Truth in the Phaedrus (Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida)
    (pp. 70-101)

    This chapter turns to the initial idea of the overturning of Platonism (Umdrehung des Platonismus) presented in the writings of Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s confrontation with Platonism and with Western metaphysics in general will be seen here both in his own work and also in Heidegger’s and Derrida’s reformulations of the Platonic and Nietzschean opposition that underlies this metaphysics, namely, the “old dispute” (palaia diaphora) between philosophy and poetry and the “raging discordance” (ein Entsetzen erregender Zwiespalt) between art and truth, the forgetfulness of which, in the form of the modernadiaphora, Nietzsche dreaded.¹ It is remarkable that both Heidegger’s and Derrida’s...

  7. 3 The Notion of (Re)Semblance in the Sophist (Deleuze, Foucault, Nancy)
    (pp. 102-131)

    How to tell the sophist from theSophist?Plato scholars acknowledge that there is no formal way to distinguish the two cases: neither capitalization nor italics are available in Greek manuscript, and there are no other formal marks that would allow us to tell the difference between the man and the text. Nevertheless, they would assure us, it is possible to determine whether Plato is talking about the man or about his own dialogue whenever he writesho sophistēs(theSophist/the sophist). In fact he never has his own dialogue in mind in theSophist:if he did, the certainties...

  8. 4 The Abyssal Ground of World and Discourse in the Timaeus (Kristeva, Irigaray, Butler, Derrida)
    (pp. 132-161)

    The ontological categories of theRepublic, even in the form of their sophisticated redefinition in theSophist, might not resist the unsettling of worldly emplacement, or the chora. Indeed, such an emplacement raises the problem of borders and marginality that necessarily accompanies any attempt to circumscribe a region and that threatens to spill over and confuse all genres and categories. It is thus important to determine the place, the status of a margin, of a border, since it is only from a margin that a text or a world can be determined. A margin is, however, an uncertain place, a...

  9. Rhapsodic Conclusion: “The Dialogue That We Are” in Plato, Heidegger, and Nancy
    (pp. 162-196)

    “The dialogue of thinking with poetry is long. It has barely begun.” Heidegger does not think here of Plato’s “old quarrel” between poetry and philosophy. The dialogue in question should circumvent philosophy, at least “Platonic” philosophy, which is interested in the domination of, rather than a genuine dialogue with, poetry. I have postulated the need for a confrontation with the legacy of Western philosophy, that is, with “Platonism,” as a condition of the dialogue called for by Heidegger. If in a sense philosophy will always be “Platonic,” as the philosophers discussed in this book claim, the major task of philosophical...

  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 197-212)
  11. Index
    (pp. 213-216)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 217-217)