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Acastos: Two Platonic Dialogues by Iris…

Acastos: Two Platonic Dialogues

by Iris Murdoch

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933183,127 (3.88)12



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Some very clever writing here. When I first saw the book I thought it was rather brave of someone to be writing dialogues in this day and age, especially inviting comparisons with Plato. If reading some of the old non-Platonic dialogues has taught me nothing else it's that the genre is much harder to do well than Plato makes it appear.

But what we have here are two fully functioning dialogues that work on multiple levels. There are lots of clever in-jokes for those readers who have read Plato and know something about his times, but so much besides that I'd recommend this book to anyone. ( )
  Lukerik | Jan 28, 2018 |
Murdoch's great turn in these short dialogues is to present Plato as a mostly introverted youth who keeps to himself, scribbling everything that everyone says, divorced from the others. He is alone, broody and petulant. Throughout the plays the characters again and again describe Plato as emotional, moody and irrational. They see him as a failing poet, and a none-too-bright philosopher.

Late in each dialogue Plato erupts and can hold his peace no longer. In both manic episodes Plato frantically attempts to expound on what will be the foundations of his later philosophy, to the general derision of his audience. (Less Socrates, naturally.)

The joke is on Plato, but, since Plato's 'silly' view has held such a prominent place in the history of Western thought, Murdoch invites us to wonder if the joke is on us? ( )
  reganrule | Feb 22, 2016 |
What is the nature of reality? Is it orderly or mere chaos? Is religion merely mythology? These are some of the questions touched upon in this short philosophic excursion by Iris Murdoch. Two Platonic dialogues for our day, written to be performed on stage, the book is a fitting addition to philosophic corpus.
Better known for her novels, Murdoch was an accomplished philosopher, and this along with Fire and the Sun demonstrate her philosophic prowess. The two dialogues are connected by the questioning of young Acastos along with Plato and Socrates. Plato comes across as a brooding young philosopher, but Socrates is his familiar self, questioning and darwing out the young Acastos just as we have come to expect from Plato's collected dialogues. As an example of the gems from the book we find Socrates commenting near the end of the first dialogue, "perhaps the language of art is the most universal and enduring kind of human thought." This is a great short read for armchair philosophers. ( )
  jwhenderson | Feb 20, 2009 |
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Acastos: Two Platonic Dialogues is Murdoch's philosophical masterpiece featuring fictionalized discussions between the intellectual giants of the classical world, including Socrates and Plato. Described by Acastos, a friend of Plato's, the riveting debates center on the nature of goodness and faith, told through the voices of history's most celebrated thinkers. Witty and profound, these debates apply the timeless wisdom of history's renowned philosophers to the most contentious issues of the modern day.… (more)

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