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The Philosopher’s Antidote

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Abstract

I begin with a palinode. It is not true, that tale I told about the myth of the cicadas in Plato’s Phaedrus. Some years ago now I used the little songsters as emblems of a malady that, I claimed, afflicts Phaedrus in that dialogue: the indiscriminate love of beautiful words (Ferrari 1987). I emphasized only the danger of their Siren song, which I represented as a distraction from true philosophy. But Bruce Gottfried has a better story, in his article ‘Pan, the Cicadas, and Plato’s Use of Myth in the Phaedrus’. The cicadas’ example of divine inspiration is positive. Its function is not to deprecate Phaedrus’ love of beautiful words, but to suggest how this love can open the way to philosophy. The potential of beautiful words, at least for sensitive souls like Phaedrus, is comparable in this regard to the effect Socrates attributes earlier in the dialogue to the sight of a beautiful boy on a lover whose memory of the beautiful itself is still fresh.

Keywords

  • Typical Song
  • True Lover
  • Philosophic Talk
  • True Philosophy
  • Moral Ignorance

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 2012 G. R. F. Ferrari

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Ferrari, G.R.F. (2012). The Philosopher’s Antidote. In: Denham, A.E. (eds) Plato on Art and Beauty. Philosophers in Depth. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230368187_6

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