Plato's Erotic World: From Cosmic Origins to Human Death, Cambridge University Press, 2012
This book examines the fundamental importance of eros in Plato's writing, arguing that he sees the world as erotic from beginning to end, from cosmic origins to human death.
Plato's entire fictive world is permeated with philosophical concern for eros, well beyond the so-called erotic dialogues. Several metaphysical, epistemological, and cosmological conversations - Timaeus, Cratylus, Parmenides, Theaetetus, and Phaedo - demonstrate that eros lies at the root of the human condition and that properly guided eros is the essence of a life well lived. This book presents a holistic vision of eros, beginning with the presence of eros at the origin of the cosmos and the human soul, surveying four types of human self cultivation aimed at good guidance of eros, and concluding with human death as a return to our origins. The book challenges conventional wisdom regarding which are the "erotic dialogues" and demonstrates that Plato's world is erotic from beginning to end: the human soul is primordially erotic and the well cultivated erotic soul can best remember and return to its origins, its lifelong erotic desire.
Turning Toward Philosophy Literary Device and Dramatic Structure in Plato's Dialogues,
The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pa.,1999.
This monograph shows how the literary techniques Plato used function philosophically to engage readers in doing philosophy and attracting them toward the philosophical life. It is built on detailed analyses of specific literary devices in chapters on dramatic form, character development, irony, and image-making (which includes myth, metaphor, and analogy).
Plato is not at all the enemy of the poets and image-makers that previous interpreters have depicted. Rather, Plato understands the power of words and images quite well. They, and not logico-deductive argumentation alone, are appropriate means for engaging human beings. Plato uses them to great effect and with a sensitive understanding of human psychology, wary of their possible corrupting influences but ultimately willing to harness their power for philosophical ends.
SELECTED RECENT ARTICLES
Interview, New Books Network about Plato's Erotic World...
"Eros, Logos, and Ontos," Perspectives in Political Science, Symposium Issue on Catherine Zuckert's Plato's Philosophers, 40:1-3, 2011
"Erotic Desire and Courage: Taking Another Look at Parmenides", Ancient Philosophy, 30:2, Fall 2010.
Continuum Companion to Plato, entries: "Literary Composition" and "Socrates (Character)," forthcoming, 2012.
Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, entry: "Platonic Love." 2009.
"What Should White Faculty Do?" Journal of Higher Education, 12:3, June 2007, 337-347.
"In the Image of Plato," in Philosophy in Dialogue: Plato's Many Devices, ed. Gary Alan Scott, (Northwestern University Press), 2007, 212-237.
"Eros in Plato's Timaeus," Epoche: A Journal for the History of Philosophy, 9:2, Spring 2005, 255-278.
"Self-Knowledge in 'Another Woman'," in Woody Allen and Philosophy, edited by Mark T. Conard and Aeon J. Skoble, (Chicago: Open Court Press), 2004.
"Eros and Philosophical Seduction in the Alcibiades I," Ancient Philosophy, 23:1, Spring 2003, 11-30.
"Race, Speech, and a Hostile Educational Environment: What Color is Free Speech?," co-authored with Markus Johnson, Journal of Social Philosophy, 34:3, Fall 2003, 414-436.