Template talk:Dialogues of Plato

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Template's original source[edit]

This template has been translated from Wikipédia:fr. See fr:Modèle:Dialogues Platon for the list of redactors. Markadet fr 10:51, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Change the template?[edit]

I suggest a change in the template. Instead of categorizing the dialogues as "Socratic", "the great" etc. I propose to organize them according to the tetralogies (the way they are organized in the standard text of John Burnet (Oxford Classical Texts) and in the single volume Plato: Complete Works ed. by John Cooper). This seems like a traditional and npov way of organizing them (as opposed to calling some great and others late (which is still open to dispute, even though most scholars agree to call those late which are called late here)). --D. Webb 21:44, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Sounds good. Be bold! I don't have the the sources you cited above... Which ever way you do it, please remember to use the Preview button. If you need help, feel free to contact me on my talk page. --Storkk 22:30, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Revision into "early", "middle", and "late" dialogues[edit]

The division into early, middle, and late dialogues follows a well-established consensus in the literature (e.g. Kahn, Plato and the Socratic Dialogue, Brandwood, "Stylometry and chronology," in Cambridge Companion to Plato). The dialogues in the early group are alphabetized, because there's great uncertainty as to their chronological order; the middle and late groups follow the order of Kahn, sort of. I won't claim this is the perfect arrangment, but I think it's better than calling some dialogues "great", and more helpful than grouping the dialogues into tetralogies. Also, the previous version implied that the "theory of forms" wasn't present in the "Socratic" dialogues, which seems quite doubtful to me. --Akhilleus (talk) 05:14, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree that early/middle/late is preferable to calling some "great" etc. However, the division is by no means uncontested although there's a broad consensus on most dialogues (cf. Guthrie, Vlastos and Cherniss). Unlike Kahn, most people would place the Phaedo and Symposium in the middle group and the Parmenides and Theaetetus into the early late group (or call them transition dialogues) and place the Philebus after the Timaeus and Critias. So my point is that whatever division is chosen is going to be POV, siding with Kahn or Vlastos, Cherniss or Guthrie or someone else. For that reason, the tetralogical division is better in my opinion. But for curiosity sake, why is the chronological division more helpful in the template when there's bound to be discussion of the relative chronology of Plato's works in the article on him and on each individual work in the relevant article? --D. Webb 06:56, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

D. Webb, I wouldn't have a problem moving Phaedo/Symposium to "middle" and Parmenides/Theaetetus to "late"; I didn't have Vlastos/Cherniss/Guthrie to hand so I went with Kahn--I actually prefer the division you suggest. However, as you point out there's a broad consensus for most dialogues. The reason why I think this division is more helpful than the tetralogies is precisely because there is a broad consensus--the early/middle/late business is something that every student of Plato needs to know about, while the division into tetralogies is less well known, and less critical for an understanding of Plato's thought. Furthermore, I think the chronological division makes browsing easier--if you're reading the article on the Hippias Major, and decide you want to learn more about the early dialogues, the template now provides a simple way to do that, whereas tetralogies wouldn't. I take your point that the main Plato article has info on the relative chronology, but for some readers the template will be more convenient. Also, many articles on individual dialogues have no chronological information or very poor chronological information. So if you're reading Meno without having read the Plato article, the template is (right now) the only way you'd know there's such a thing as an "early" dialogue. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:13, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree that early/middle/late (despite the fact that there can never be complete certainty or total consensus about these designations) is more useful than using Thrasymachus' tetralogies. The reason why is very simple: Thrasymachus' tetralogies have virtually no use to the modern reader at all, except to facilitate reference to the order of OCT (and now the Hackett). On the other hand, the chronology is widely enough agreed to that it provides a valuable orientation to the (likely) place of these works in Plato's career. If anyone (with support of reliable sources, of course) wants to add notes like "or possibly earlier," etc., in a few particularly hard cases, or make moves (is Cratylus really held to be that early?), I think that would be better than abandoning this framework. Wareh 21:55, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
I moved some dialogues into the middle and late sections; hopefully this better represents the views of Vlastos et al. As we've all acknowledged, there isn't complete consensus among Platonic scholars about this division (e.g., some really do put the Cratylus in the early group, but say that it's one of the latest of the early dialogues)--but this is just a navigational template, the main Plato article can cover the difficulties of chronology/stylometry fully. --Akhilleus (talk) 06:30, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Ah, I only just now am noticing that within each class they're given alphabetically. The number of items is small enough that I'm not sure this makes it more convenient. I think it would be nice (and need not involve any quibbles, since we all realize this can only be a preliminary and inexact guide) for someone to reorder each section chronologically (so that the Cratylus isn't right there at the top, for example). Wareh 21:17, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
There's so much disagreement about the chronological order within each group that I'm very reluctant to do this. If someone else wants to decide whether Cratylus precedes Meno, and whether Parmenides comes before Philebus, I won't object. --Akhilleus (talk) 21:24, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
There's a very strong scholarly consensus regarding the relative dating within the last group (Parmenides and Theaetetus (most often taken to belong to the third group or to be transitional dialogues, certainly later than anything else in the middle group if they're placed there), Sophist, Statesman, Timaeus, Critias, Philebus, Laws). --D. Webb 21:39, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

All right, I've tried to take a conservative approach to improving the ordering, while respecting the doubt and imprecision that attend Platonic chronology. Here's what I've done in a nutshell:

  • Within each section, the listing is still alphabetical, so that we can avoid generating any quibbles or meaningless semblance of precision.
    • However, the late dialogues are given in the order that keeps the natural pairings & accords with scholarly consensus, since Plato's increasing avoidance of hiatus in this period gives us a sure footing that is lacking elsewhere.
    • I have split early and middle into two sections with a yellow stripe. As D. Webb and others pointed out, it is a bit jarring to have Phaedo and Parmenides, or Lysis and Meno, rubbing shoulders, when no one who believes in the existence of "early/middle/late" in the first place would put them near each other.
  • The only dialogue I reclassified is Cratylus. Almost every scholar, and certainly the consensus, considers this later than "early."
  • As I found the template, it had Hippias Major and Hippias Minor on a single row. I kept this, and used this as the maximum row width. (By paying closer attention to this, I was able to ensure that the revised box has a smaller footprint—same width, but vertically a bit shorter.)
  • I changed the redlinked The Rivals (dialogue) to the redlinked Rival Lovers, since this is the title given in the Hackett Complete Works. I hope to contribute this article in the future.
  • Just for the record, there is not a single one of my personal views included in my edit. I consulted several standard accounts. In using more original sources (e.g. Charles Kahn), I was careful not to follow them where they made original suggestions.

My basic feeling here was that the small number of dialogues in each group makes it easy enough to find a given dialogue if that is the reader's desire. These changes are meant to provide a somewhat more useful synopsis of the Platonic corpus, while of course not presuming to have any meaning beyond "the clumping of dialogues most often borne in mind by the most scholars." Wareh 20:48, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

Wareh, no objection to the re-ordering, but the yellow stripe looks odd--it almost gives the impression that someone's forgotten to put in some text. Is there a way to make them smaller? --Akhilleus (talk) 21:14, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
I think this edit was an improvement. However, I did add the Hipparchus to the spurious dialogues, although it's not likely authentic; neiher is th Second Alcibiades or the Minos or the Rival Lovers but they all belong to the tetralogies and I think the template should have all 36 titles. --D. Webb 21:17, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for completing the list, D. Webb. I share Akhilleus' gripe about the yellow bands. (All I can say in their defense is that at least the template has not become physically bigger on the screen after my revision.) This is a technical question, and I am technically incompetent to put a narrower & subtler dividing mark, which would be nice (I thought of a horizontal line, but that would be too strong). Failing that, the same concern could be addressed by putting more labels ("Later early dialogues" & "Later middle dialogues"). While that would be fair enough, I was trying to keep the overall simplicity. Is there some way we can bring the technical improvement we desire to the attention of Wikipedians who know more about the technical possibilities? Wareh 18:35, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
The label "transitional dialogues" has been used to describe the later early and later middle dialogues. We could use that label. --D. Webb 19:01, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Wareh, the latest changes look good. Thanks for fixing this. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:17, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

I've made one final edit. I just read through several of the classic chronology articles (as collected in Plato: Critical Assessments vol. 1, Routledge 1998). For the late dialogues, I was impressed that scholars with methodologies as different as Brandwood, Thesleff, and Vlastos all agreed on the sequence, so I moved Timaeus and Critias to the earliest position in this category. This change shows a little bit of confidence; my other change is more to honor scholars' abiding skepticism, in that, while there's a lot of agreement that the four dialogues closest to the late ones are Rep., Phdr., Theaet., and Parm. (with most, but not all, putting the last two of these last), there is extremely little consensus about the earlier groups. So I've reduced the number of categories by one & created a bigger "transitional and middle category," alphabetically ordered. I think the result is both that the template is a bit more compact & navigable and that its implications are a bit less objectionable to the wide range of scholars who are willing to consider these categories at all. Wareh 20:09, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Adding Epistles[edit]

I've added the Epistles, since a) Thrasyllus included them all together as a single dialogue in his tetralogy and b) I just finished a page on them. Since most of the epistles are of dubious authenticity (even if a lot of people now consider the Seventh Letter to be real), I've put them at the bottom. RJC Talk 16:20, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

Alcibiades, Greater Hippias, and Clitophon[edit]

I'm not sure why Greater Hippias and First Alcibiades are included in the listing, but Clitophon excluded (as doubtful). Is there greater support for the authenticity of the former than the latter? Srnec (talk) 20:07, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

You're right that the template's classification of Clitophon is anomalous. It is the only "doubtful" item (leaving aside the mixed bag of the letters) not generally considered spurious. To get things moving, I will be bold and move it to the late period (where it is very likely to belong if it is authentic; see esp. Slings' Cambridge edition, p. 226). I do so with some hesitation, mainly because the existing group of six late dialogues is probably the closest thing to a reliable and positive fact in this template, so that it seems a shame to disrupt it with the controversial and special case of the Clitophon.
Now, where reopening this question really gives me heartburn is in relation to First Alcibiades. Denyer's conclusions about First Alcibiades#Dating (and those of Slings, who considers it "quite likely" to postdate Clitophon, though he refers to it as a "post-Platonic" production "usually dated 350-340," without much discussion) would probably tend to place it in the "late" group. But Denyer's general thurst is to show how problematic any conventional dating is, and to undermine many of the assumptions reflected in this template. I feel it's just too problematic to throw First Alcibiades also into "late," at least until I reread Denyer's introduction. For now, the status quo can perhaps be justified by Young's computer dating survey in OSAPh 12, which refers to Ledger's classification of First Alc. as early. (I don't have to hand, but would like to know in this context, the rate of hiatus-avoidance in First Alcibiades). Wareh (talk) 18:03, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
On more consideration, I don't wish to tamper with First Alcibiades. It may well be spurious and late (I might want to move it to "doubted," but that would produce the same anomaly Srnec noted with Clitophon); it may (less likely) be a hybrid production completed by Plato in his late-middle period (Pamela M. Clark, CQ 1955). In any case, it is "philosophically early" (that's how an analytically inclined writer like Annas tries to use it, though there may be something to all the suggestions that the dialogue fits there too perfectly), doesn't avoid hiatus with the late dialogues (as Clitophon does), and Denyer is neither detached nor detailed enough in his commentary to sway me completely. The article itself has a section on disagreements in dating, and it's unreasonable to expect better guidance from a template! Wareh (talk) 21:31, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Adding Halcyon[edit]

I've added Halcyon on the basis that its wiki page includes the 'Dialogues of Plato' sidebar - that is, if it make sense to feature the sidebar as relevant to the dialogue in-question, then it makes just as much sense to include the dialogue in-question within the sidebar. (Note also that some historical Plato collections have included Halcyon.) The fact that the sidebar has a section for dialogues "Of Doubtful Authenticity" seems to clinch the deal. However, I'm not doctrinaire about this, and would not object to having it removed again... as long as the remover can formulate a policy which comes to grips with these considerations. (talk) 06:34, 13 January 2010 (UTC)