Histories of Meaning
Earl’s Commentary on Jeff Bobis’s response to Plato’s Ion Part II
Our Orientation Javiera
From Jeff’s Response
Interestingly enough, when asked the question „What is Literature,“
Run to the library and get a hold of the critical writings of Samuel R. Delany. For example,
Silent Interviews (Wesleyan University Press);
Longer Views (Wesleyan University Press)
You need his theory of genre formation and its politics. „Literature“ in its current usage has only been around since the late eigthteenth- early-nineteenth centuries. If you told Shakespeare his plays were great „literature“ he wouldn’t know what you were talking about.
Read the entry on „Literature“ in Raymond Williams‘ Keywords.
And read my synopsis of Delany’s theory of genre in chapter Three of Strategies of Deviance.
All of the fields Socrates talks about in the end are referred to as
„arts,“ which implies that the Greeks did not have the distinction
between the rationality of „science“ and the proposed irrationality of
„art“ that we have today. The act of speaking may play a much larger role
in the formation of fact than is typically accorded to it. If, according
to Ion, the best speaker on the art of numbers is the person who knows
the most about it, then there is no real (what is „real?“) difference
between numbers and literature, only a perceived one.
Here you have a good first impulse. This is the kind of observation to make, the kind of experimental speculations to posit when beginning to form a research topic for your paper. You see the English word „art“ prominent in the translation, and you begin to make a series of inferences based on what that word implies in modern, Western Euro-American academic contexts. The next step is to test those observations and those speculative inferences. Find out what the Greek term is that is translated as „art“. Research its semantic range, and its meanings for Plato. How? The word search feature on Perseus. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/
But I’l l make
it even easier.
|Through calling the inspiration of Ion or Homer
divinely inspired, Socrates invokes the standard ancient explanation for
the presumably inexplicable. I „know“ intuitively that belief in the
divine is inseparable from belief in objectivity, but, ironically enough,
I could not prove it myself without arguing objectively.
|Socrates never indulges in claiming
“divinity“ to hide ignorance of the facts! And read more carefully. He
begins with the premise of divine inspiration. He’d hardly do that if it
was just a dodge. Remember too [READ!!!] – When he claims this for Ion
it is not to exalt him but to disqualify him.
If I weren’t exhausted I’d explain why your argument that divinity is objectivity is self-annihilating nonsense. But instead, I’m just going to ask you to do the work now, and explain it to both of us.
To Anthony Costanza on Ion
To Javiera on Ion