Anthony Costanza

Costanza on Plato’s „Ion“ with Earl’s commentary




Anthony Costanza

Earl Jackson, Jr.

Socrates speaks of
the poet as a madman, one possessed.
certainly does do this, but the mania of the poet is, like the mania
the oracle, the divination agent, and later the lover, the result of divine
possession. It is a temporary state, and neither affects nor reflects anything
intrinsic of the poet’s personality when not possessed. In fact, the divine
madness does not so much transform the person as it preempts
her or him.
He further asserts that it should
remain solely the position of the philosopher to tell the/a story as, unlike
the poet, the philosopher may control and construct the story attending
himself to moral or ethic. 
does Socrates make such an assertion? Please cite the text directly, using

I think you’re right , but my agreement with
you is based more on my own intuitive reading of the text. Among the frustrations
of the Ion, is the degree to which Socrates goes to delegitimate the rhapsode’s
understanding of Homer, without concretely stating what the philosopher
could do in the rhapsode’s place in terms of understanding communicating
the „meaning“ of Homer’s work.

Socrates is laying the groundwork for at least
two metadiscursive agendas:



  • distinguishing between poetry and philosophy as
    two separate spheresof signifying practice

  • relegating to the philosopher the critical authority
    over the poet’s text


Where the poet recites
adorns, the philosopher creates and instructs. Essentially then,
we must view this discussion as an assault on Ion’s usurpation of Socrates’role
as a philosopher in his association/comparison of himself with Homer.
what way does the philosopher „create“? Cite text in support of your statement
or reconsider.

Does the philosopher „instruct“? What instruction
does Socrates provide Ion here? And

What about the Meno? 

usurpation of Socrates’s role“ is either anachronistic or an overidentification
with Socrates’s view of his calling (if we can state so positively the
agenda we have discerned within the dialogue).In other words, Ion couldn’t
have „usurped“ Socrates’s role as the official interpreter of poetry because
there was no such role conceived of as the privilege of the philosopher
at the time that Plato wrote this dialogue. That’s one reason I characterize
Socrates’s agenda as metadiscursive. He’s attempting to establish a role
that you’re assuming he already possesses and is merely

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