Title

My Dinner with Socrates: Literary Shaping of Philosophy in Plato and Dostoevsky

Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

1993

Advisor

Ray Larson

Abstract

This study examines the philosophical impact of literary techniques on Plato's dialogues. Incorporating phenomenological literary theory and illustrating Plato's dramatic form and imperfect philosophical argumentation in terms of similar usages in Dostoevsky's novels, it notes an intonation of reader interaction playing a significant role in the shaping of any philosophical message that is to be taken from the dialogues. It concludes that the dialogues, like Dostoevsky's novels, play with reader's expectations of the genres of "philosophy" and "literature" and the outcomes suitable to each to frustrate their readers' search for answers in the text and thus to engage them in a dialectic beyond it. Plato's dialogues and Dostoevsky's novels seek not clearly to state any philosophy, but to lead their readers to understand that, with the texts as guides, each of them must undertake the quest for truth on her own terms, seek his own philosophical moments.

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