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The Dialogues as Dramatic Rehearsal: Plato’s Republic and the Moral Accounting Metaphor

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Albert Spencer
Portland State University
United States

In John Dewey & Moral Imagination, Steven Fesmire blames Plato for the denigration of imagination’s role in moral deliberation. He argues that John Dewey’s dramatic rehearsal better integrates imagination into moral deliberation. His treatment of Plato represents a habit among pragmatists to reduce Dewey’s reading of Plato to the polemics present in major works. In fact, Plato was Dewey’s favorite philosopher and he claimed that “Nothing could be more helpful to present philosophizing than a “Back to Plato” movement” (LW.5.154). Following the scholarship of John Herman Randall and Henry Wolz reveals Plato as a moral artist engaged in a project of social reconstruction who wrote the dialogues as dramatic rehearsals of particular historical and cultural problems. From this perspective, Republic Book I dramatizes the inadequacy of the moral accounting metaphor critiqued by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson and experiments with metaphors sympathetic to Fesmire’s construal of moral imagination.


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