Socrates wrote nothing; Plato's accounts of Socrates helped to establish western politics, ethics, and metaphysics. Both have played crucial and dramatically changing roles in western culture. In the last two centuries, the triumph of democracy has led many to side with the Athenians against a Socrates whom they were right to kill. Meanwhile the Cold War gave us polar images of Plato as both a dangerous totalitarian and an escapist intellectual. And visions of Plato have proliferated at the heart of postmodern critiques of the very idea of metaphysics and politics.
Plato's Progeny begins with an account of modern responses to the trial of Socrates and the controversial question of Socrates' relation to Plato. At its centre are two chapters exploring the idea of Platonic origins in and for philosophy, and of Platonic foundations for philosophical politics. Exploring unfamiliar as well as familiar invocations of Plato, Melissa Lane argues that twentieth-century ideological battles have obscured the importance of Socratic individualism, the nature of Platonic ethics, and the value of Platonic politics. Succinct and clearly written, this is an ideal guide for everyone interested in the way philosophers are still writing footnotes to Plato.
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