Beginning with the premise that the attack must be taken seriously, Eric Havelock shows that Plato’s hostility is explained by the continued domination of the. PREFACE TO PLATO science and to morality: the major Greek poets from. Homer to Euripides must be excluded from the educational system of Greece. Preface to Plato has ratings and 7 reviews. Tim said: For those billions of you loosing sleep each night trying to figure out why Plato was so hostil.
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The reason for the dominance of this tradition was technological.
Eric A. Havelock
In a nonliterate culture, stored experience necessary to cultural stability had to be preserved as poetry in order to be memorized. Havelock shows how the Iliad acted as an oral encyclopedia. Under the label of mimesis, Plato condemns the poetic process of emotional identification and the necessity of presenting content as a series of specific images in a continued narrative.
The second part of the book discusses the Platonic Forms as an aspect of an increasingly rational culture. Literate Greece demanded, instead of poetic discourse, a vocabulary and a sentence structure both abstract and explicit in which experience could be described normatively and analytically: It may well turn out to be a landmark in the study of Greek thought and literature. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
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Preface to Plato
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Sold by ayvax and ships from Amazon Fulfillment. Customers who bought this item also bought. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present.
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Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This book is valuable not only for his reading of Plato, but also for his understanding of Homer.
Havelock is a classicist, versed in the original Greek texts, but his book is accessible to all. The basic question is why Plato eirc so adamant about banning all poets from his Republic, in the dialogue by that name.
For Greeks, poetry meant Homer, and so Havelock argues we need to understand the role of Homer in traditional Greek society. Homer’s texts were composed and written down in an essentially oral culture.
Preface to Plato — Eric A. Havelock | Harvard University Press
They were written not only as entertainment, for the plot and characters, but also as a record of the Greek’s values, traditions, and ethos. Much of Homer’s epics record things like the proper role of priests, prophets, kings, how to make a supplication to a superior, the ritual procedures of sacrifice, and so on.
This was knowledge that was taught in an oral culture by poetry, specifically the recitation and memorization of Homer’s epics, a predominant cultural activity up to and including the time of Plato. Plato wanted to reform education, which meant replacing Homer with training in philosophy.
Havelock sees Plato correctly as, in one sense, a conservative, a moralist. But the unresolved contradiction here is that Homer serves generally, by Havelock’s own argument, to reinforce traditional morality. In Plato’s time, according to Havelock, traditional morality had been generally replaced by the sophistic cynicism we find, for example, with Socrates’ interlocutors in the Republic, that justice is just a convenient name for whatever is in the strongest party’s interest. But Havelock doesn’t make any persuasive case for why Plato should target Homer for this corruption, since his epics support traditional morality.
We can surely agree that Plato wanted to place morality on a firm, rational basis; that’s clear. But Havelock has not really answered his question of why Homer and the poets were banned from the Republic. Homeric epic could have well served, as it does today, as a supplement to rational teaching of virtue. There doesn’t appear to be any strong contradiction between Homeric poetry and traditional morality. Granted, Homer’s gods do not always serve as moral exemplars, but that is only a side issue for Plato and for Havelock’s reading of Plato.
Another weakness is Havelock’s characterization of Homeric society as essentially poetic, in which people spoke in verse, etc. He arguably overstates or misunderstands the differences between oral and written culture. Havelock also has a story to tell about how and why philosophy originated in ancient Greece, beginning with Hesiod’s catalog of the gods, and the following attempts to abstract knowledge as concepts from its original mythic context.
: Preface to Plato (History of the Greek Mind) (): Eric A. Havelock: Books
This book provides a very insightful approach to the origins of abstract thinking, i. Once you read it you can develop a better understanding of why Plato banned poetry and poets from his ideal state. The book helped me understand what exactly mimesis meant for Plato.
Far from being a Platonic eccentricity Havelock manages to present Plato’s views on poetry and mimesis as the logical consequence of his ideas about knowledge and ethics. After Havelock’s book Plato has never been more Platonist.
It’s a great analysis of the Greek mind’s transit from the Homeric “state of mind” –the realm of orality– to the Platonic “state of mind” –the place of Ideas A classic on Literacy and Orality.
The perfect place to start. Fascinating subject but the book actually says very little. If you want to start with Plato, this is the place. Plato, through Socrates, indulges in a huge polemic. The problem with a polemic is that unless you have a clear idea of who he is arguing against and why you won’t understand what is being said. Havelock’s aim is to situate you in the ancient Greece of Plato’s day and explain exactly what Plato is on about. Suddenly Plato doesn’t seem quite so bizarre if you have some idea why he says what he says.
Havelock starts with the tenth book of prefzce Republic: Plato was no mean poet himself, so what does this mean? Havelock tells you in technicolor the why’s and wherefore’s of the historical situation so that you can read Republic havelokc the havelokc dialogues as well without flying blind. The empirical mindset is so ingrained in us that it’s hard to imagine that it was once otherwise, especially in haveloco classical civilization so influential to our history. Cultural knowledge and values were retained and passed down through practices that resemble ritual more than anything else.
Knowledge and myth were indistinguishable. Havelock’s book is an valuable contribution, but I do have some reservations about it. Havelock feels that Plato’s mysticism llato regrettable and this to me is a mistake. However valuable reason is to our lives, we still are not emotionally integrated beings. The ritualistic practices of classical Greeks may be obsolete from an empirical point of view, but not at all from an emotional one. For Erid to put spirituality on a rational basis was as important a contribution as putting science on a rational basis.
Plato is not Prefaec, and that’s a good thing. But read it and decide for yourself. You won’t be wasting your time. See all 8 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. Preface to Plato History of the Greek Mind.
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