Essay on Phaedrus by Plato

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Carnegie Mellon University
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Limits of logos and need of myths in the discussion of boundaries of knowledge in Socrate's second speech

Plato's dialogues were characterized by many traditional myths, some of which he would invent while he would modify others. He was known to be a myth teller as well as mythmaker. The reason as to why he used myths in his works is because that would be easier for readers of his philosophical teaching to understand the various philosophical matters better as opposed to the way they would follow if he used blunt philosophy discourse (Nichols 137). He was, however, trying to overcome the opposition that traditionally occurred between muthos and logos. Plato used myths and logos to explain the limits of human knowledge. His discussion of the restrictions that existed in language was also useful in his explanation of limits of human experience. He specifically discussed some of these issues in his writing of the Phaedrus. Phaedrus was a dialogue between Socrates who was Platos protagonist and Phaedrus who was an interlocutor in some talks (Nichols 137). The topic of the conversation was love, and the discussion mainly revolved around rhetoric, with the main subjects being erotic love and metempsychosis. In the second speech of Socrates, which has been discussed exhaustively by Plato, he talked about three issues namely; madness, the soul and the madness of love. Plato uses myths and logos in discussing the limits of knowledge in this dialogue and to define the three issues mentioned by Socrates.

In his discussion, he uses logos to define the soul as self-moving. He says that the soul is the source of all other things that move and hence it cant be destroyed. Further, he states that material objects that have to be transferred using an outside force do not have a soul. However, those that are capable of running using the inside force have a soul. They can move from within because the soul is a self-mover. On the other hand, Plato uses myth to describe the soul as winged horses and their charioteer (Nichols 138). As per the words of Socrates, the gods have two good horses, where one of good and the other one of neither functional nor beautiful. Everyone else has a mixture of horses. Souls are immortal. There are those that lack bodies, but as long as they have wings in excellent condition, they can patrol heaven. The soul may shed its wings. When this happens, it comes to earth and assumes an earthly body. It is then able to move.

From these explanations, the limits of logos and the need for myths can be observed. Logos do not explain how the soul becomes self-moving. The example using logos suggest that the soul does not have a beginning. However, it is not logical for anything that is being to have no start. In other words, everything has an opening. Logo fails to acknowledge that before the soul coming to earth it exists in the bodiless form in heaven. Myth supplements this deficit by explaining how the soul comes to ground and the state in which it lives while in paradise. Myth gives a better understanding of how the soul begins and becomes self-moving.

Plato articulation of his assumptions about the nature of truth, reality and the limits of the human knowing

In philosophy, the fact is one of the major subjects. It is said to be one of the most significant questions and has in itself been a primary topic of discussion. Several philosophers have made their contributions regarding the subject of truth (Neel 88). Notably, affects the limits of human knowledge. Plato, his description of the theory of forms, made assumptions regarding expertise. He said that is an active process which is followed by people in their bid to organize as well as classify their perceptions. In other words, knowledge helps people to perceive whether various issues are correct or not and also helps them to hold their opinions in a certain way. He also assumes that the power of reason plays a central role in discerning the truth as well as the character of the world. Plato believes that his philosophy is aimed at pursuit to possess knowledge about reality. Reality is to be maintained via possession of forms. His dialogue forms, passages, and myths describe the relationship that explains between forms and souls. These aspects suggest the cautionary message that addresses the limits of human knowledge (Neel 89). Therefore, this assumption in this regard is that the myths, passages and dialogue forms that Plato used can be useful in addressing the deficit that exists regarding human knowledge. There is the pedagogy of desire whereby people are interested in better understanding reality, truth as well as the limits of human knowledge.

Works Cited

Neel, Jasper P. Plato, Derrida, and Writing. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988. Print

Nichols, Mary P. Socrates on Friendship and Community: Reflections on Plato's Symposium, Phaedrus, and Lysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Print.

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