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Plato's Lysis

The Lysis is one of Plato's most engaging but also puzzling dialogues; it has often been regarded, in the modern period, as a philosophical failure. The full philosophical and literary exploration of the dialogue illustrates how it in fact provides a systematic and coherent, if incomplete, account of a special theory about, and special explanation of, human desire and action. Furthermore, it shows how that theory and explanation are fundamental to a whole range of other Platonic dialogues and indeed to the understanding of the corpus as a whole. Part One offers an analysis of, or running commentary on, the dialogue. In Part Two Professors Penner and Rowe examine the philosophical and methodological implications of the argument uncovered by the analysis. The whole is rounded off by an epilogue of the relation between the Lysis and some other Platonic (and Aristotelian) texts.
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Table of Contents

Preface; Part I. An Analysis of the Lysis: 1. 203AI-207B7: the cast assembles and the main conversation is set up; 2. 207B8-210D8 (Socrates and Lysis): do Lysis' parents really love him?; 3. 210EI-213C9: Socrates and Menexenus - how does one get a friend?; 4. 213DI-216B9: Socrates and Lysis again, then Menexenus - poets and cosmologists on what is friend of what (like of like: or opposite of opposite?); 5. 216CI-221D6: what it is that loves, what it really loves and why; 6. 221D6-222B2: the main argument reaches its conclusion; 7. 222B3-E7: some further questions from Socrates about the argument, leading to (apparent) impasse; 8. 223AI-B8: the dialogue ends - people will say that Socrates and the boys think they are friends, but they haven't been able to discover what 'the friend' is; 9. 203AI-207B7 revisited; Part II. The Theory of the Lysis: 10. A rereading of the Lysis: some preliminaries; 11. A rereading of the Lysis; 12. On seeking the good of others independently of one's own good; and other unfinished business; Epilogue; Translation of the Lysis; Bibliography; Indexes.

About the Author

Terry Penner is Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, and was, for a time, Affiliate Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In Spring 2005 he was A. G. Leventis Visiting Research Professor of Greek in the University of Edinburgh. His previous publications include The Ascent from Nominalism: Some Existence Arguments in Plato's Middle Dialogues(1986) and numerous articles on Socrates. Christopher Rowe is Professor of Greek at the University of Durham; he was Leverhulme Personal Research Professor from 1999 until 2004. His previous publications include commentaries on four Platonic dialogues; he has edited The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought (with Malcolm Schofield, 2000) and New Perspectives on Plato, Modern and Ancient(with Julia Annas, 2002), as well as providing a new translation of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics to accompany a philosophical commentary by Sarah Broadie (2002).


"...succeeds admirably in making the case for the philosophical significance of the Lysis, a dialogue which has suffered from dismissal and neglect. ...their book is philosophically provocative and engaging. It will be of vital interest to all scholars of Plato; parts of it will also be of substantial use for philosophers working on moral psychology and, in particular, on love." --Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 11/2006

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