SECOND MEETING OF THE
NORTH AMERICAN SECTIONS
INTERNATIONAL PLUTARCH SOCIETY
"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences"
15-18 May, 2019
HIGHLY CUSTOMIZABLE THEME
SECOND MEETING OF THE
NORTH AMERICAN SECTIONS
INTERNATIONAL PLUTARCH SOCIETY
"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences"
15-18 May, 2019
HIGHLY CUSTOMIZABLE THEME
SECOND MEETING OF THE
NORTH AMERICAN SECTIONS
INTERNATIONAL PLUTARCH SOCIETY
"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences"
15-18 May, 2019
By Itidorfa07 (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped from original)
Lion of Chaeronea Statue

Abstract Details

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5/16/2019  |   4:00 PM - 4:30 PM   |  Hampton Inn Conference Room

A case of philosophical silence: on the III “Platonica Quaestio”

Among Plutarch’s “Moralia”, the “Platonicae Quaestiones” are ten exegetical exercises on both contradictory and obscure passages of text by Plato. In the third “Quaestio” (1001c-1002e), Plutarch examines a theoretical problem related to the similarity of the “Divided Line” (Resp. 509d6-511e5), i.e. whether the sensible segment is “greater” (“meizon”, 1001d) than the intelligible one, or vice versa. In briefly summing up the content of the Platonic similarity, Plutarch surprisingly leaves out Plato’s reference to the “criterion” which should mark the difference between the upper and the lower segments of the line: the “sapheneia” (Resp. 511e). How are we expected to understand this silence? My purpose is to demonstrate that Plutarch’s omission is voluntary, since this is meant to provide the ”Quaestio” with a more original, step-by-step analytical development, along with a clearer solution. Plutarch’s initial silence gives him the opportunity to accurately argue against any quantitative or materialistic reading of the word “meizon”. Any interpretation of Plato’s ontology which reduces the intelligible dimension to an “elementary” level (i.e. to one based on whatever type of “elachista”) should be rejected. The difference between the sensible segment and the intelligible one (and, hence, the superiority of the latter over the former) has to be described in ontological terms. But “sapheneia” had this precise meaning in its original Platonic context: so, its omission at the very beginning of the “Quaestio” turns out to be of use to Plutarch in order to guide the reader gradually towards the solution of the “zetema”.

Carlo Delle Donne (Primary Presenter), carlo.delledonne@sns.it;
I’m a phd student in Ancient Philosophy at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. I have studied at Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, for three years. My research interests cover both Plato, especially the “Cratylus”, and the Platonic tradition, particularly Plutarch.

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