This book explores the dynamic relationship between myth and
philosophy in the Presocratics, the Sophists, and in Plato - a
relationship which is found to be more extensive and programmatic
than has been recognized. The story of philosophy's relationship
with myth is that of its relationship with literary and social
convention. The intellectuals studied here wanted to reformulate
popular ideas about cultural authority and they achieved this goal
by manipulating myth. Their self-conscious use of myth creates a
self-reflective philosophic sensibility and draws attention to
problems inherent in different modes of linguistic representation.
Much of the reception of Greek philosophy stigmatizes myth as
'irrational'. Such an approach ignores the important role played by
myth in Greek philosophy, not just as a foil but as a mode of
philosophical thought. The case studies in this book reveal myth
deployed as a result of methodological reflection, and as a
manifestation of philosophical concerns.
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