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July 05 , 2009

Comic Cure for Delusional Democracy

Plato's Republic


This book shows how the discussion of Platos' Republic is a comic mimetic cure for civic and psychic delusion. Plato creates such pharmaka, or noble lies, for reasons enunciated by Socrates within the discussion, but this indicates Plato must think his readers are in the position of needing the catharses such fictions produce. Socrates' interlocutors must be like us. Since cities are like souls, and souls come to be as they are through mimesis of desires, dreams, actions and thought patterns in the city, we should expect that political theorizing often suffers from madness as well. It does. Gene Fendt shows how contemporary political (and psychological) theory still suffers from the same delusion Socrates' interlocutors reveal in their discussion: a dream of autarchia called possessive individualism. Plato has good reason to think that only a mimetic, rather than a rational and philosophical, cure can work. Against many standard readings, Comic Cure for Delusional Democracy shows that the Republic itself is a defense of poetry; that kallipolis cannot be the best city and is not Socrates' ideal; that there are six forms of regime, not five; and that the true philosopher should not be unhappy to go back down into Plato's cave.
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