Exiling the Poets

The Production of Censorship in Plato's Republic

Ramona A. Naddaff

Exiling the Poets
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Ramona A. Naddaff

204 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2003
Cloth $37.50 ISBN: 9780226567273 Published February 2003
The question of why Plato censored poetry in his Republic has bedeviled scholars for centuries. In Exiling the Poets, Ramona A. Naddaff offers a strikingly original interpretation of this ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy. Underscoring not only the repressive but also the productive dimension of literary censorship, Naddaff brings to light Plato's fundamental ambivalence about the value of poetic discourse in philosophical investigation.

Censorship, Nadaff argues, is not merely a mechanism of silencing but also provokes new ways of speaking about controversial and crucial cultural and artistic events. It functions philosophically in the Republic to subvert Plato's most crucial arguments about politics, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Naddaff develops this stunning argument through an extraordinary reading of Plato's work. In books 2 and 3, the first censorship of poetry, she finds that Plato constitutes the poet as a rival with whom the philosopher must vie agonistically. In other words, philosophy does not replace poetry, as most commentators have suggested; rather, the philosopher becomes a worthy and ultimately victorious poetic competitor. In book 10's second censorship, Plato exiles the poets as a mode of self-subversion, rethinking and revising his theory of mimesis, of the immortality of the soul, and, most important, the first censorship of poetry. Finally, in a subtle and sophisticated analysis of the myth of Er, Naddaff explains how Plato himself censors his own censorships of poetry, thus producing the unexpected result of a poetically animated and open-ended dialectical philosophy.
Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
INTRODUCTION
The Other Side of Censorship: Literature on Trial
1. The "Miserable Inventions" of Poets
"And There Will Be Poets"
A Tradition of Poetic Truth Tellers
Behind the Veil of Censorship
2. New Songs Are Best
Socrates' "Homericide"
"They Could Be Heroes": The Guardians' Poetic Education
Another Way to Sing a Song: Student, Rhapsodist, and Poet
3. The Making of the Poet's Image
From Identity to Difference
The Philosopher on the Couch: From Creators to Imitators
Dangerous Mimetic Images and Artists
Finally, the Poet
4. The Death of Poetry, the Poetry of Death
Eternal Returns
The Civil War of the Divided Soul
Enslaving Reason: Sympathy for the Other
Conclusion: A Myth to End . . . All Myths
Innovative Action and Conservative Reaction
Production, Repression, and Self-Subversion
Notes
Bibliography
Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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