You are on page 1of 6

JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY OF EDUCATION

David Snelgrove, Editor Editorial Advisory Board


Mike Boone, Southwest Texas State University Virginia W orley, Oklahoma State University Neil Houser, University of Oklahoma Dalton B. Curtis, Southeast Missouri State University Charles Fazarro, University of Missouri, St. Louis Susan Laird, University of Oklahoma Taiebeh Hosseinali, University of Illinois Ralph Olliges, W ebster University Stacy Otto, Illinois State University Douglas J. Simpson, Texas Tech University George Stone, University of the Ozarks Mary Lou Aylor, Central Michigan University Don Hufford, Newman University Adam David Roth, University of Rhode Island John Covaleskie, University of Oklahoma Lu Stephens, Lamar University Matthew Davis, University of Missouri, St. Louis Bartley McSwine, Chicago State University Frances Karanovich, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Thomas Deering, Augusta State University Linda Morice, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Sam Stack, W est Virginia University Martha Tevis, University of Texas-Pan American Jennifer J. Endicot, University of Central Oklahoma Peter A. Theodore, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cornell Thomas, Oklahoma State University Susan Birden, Buffalo State College James Van Patten, University of Arkansas W ayne W illis, Morehead State University Karen McKellips, Cameron University Mary Bevel, W ebster University Lucy Bailey, Oklahoma State University John Hunt, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

The Journal of Philosophy and History of Education is an annual publication of the Society of Philosophy & History of Education (formerly the Southwestern Philosophy of Education Society). Based on anonymous review by the Editorial Advisory Board, a limited number of papers are selected from those delivered at the annual meeting of the Society of Philosophy and History of Education in St. Louis, Missouri, September 2009. The opinions expressed in the respective works are those of the individual authors, and may not necessarily be the position of the Society, the editor, the Editorial Advisory Board, or the publishers. Membership in the Society is open to anyone interested in the profession of education. Only members may present papers at the annual meeting. Dues vary in accordance with the vote of the membership and may be mailed to the Secretary-Treasurer or the current Program Coordinator. Other information may be obtained from the SOPHE W eb page at: http://sopheconference.com. SOPHE OFFICERS, 2009 President President Elect Past President Journal Editor James Swartz Lee S. Duemer Mary Bevel David Snelgrove Miami University of Ohio Texas Tech University W ebster University Georgia State University University of Central Oklahoma

Secretary-Treasurer Doug Davis

The copyright of the Journal of Philosophy and History of Education in the name of the Society of Philosophy & History of Education protects the rights of the individual authors who have contributed their thoughts to this volume. For purposes of reproduction, written permission of the individual authors must be secured. A scholarly entry, moreover, must be used noting the Journal of Philosophy and History of Education as the source of first publication. Copyright 2010 by the Society of Philosophy and History of Education

JOPHE 60 TABLE OF CONTENTS


5. 7. 12. 21. 28. 34. 40. In M emoriam, Joe L. Kincheloe, 1950-2009 Don Hufford, Newman University, Dear Dr. Drake: Do I read You Correctly? Neil Houser, Oklahoma University, Dialectics of Dissonance and Development in Teacher Education W illiam Lloyd Fridley and Carolyn Althoff Fridley, Southeastern Oklahoma State University Some Problems & Peculiarities with the Learning Styles Rhetoric & Practice Janet Handwerk, Oklahoma University, Forgotten Girls: Rereading AAUW s Tech-Savvy Chuck Fazzaro, University of Missouri St. Louis, Foucault, Parrhesia, and the Problem of Leadership in American Public Education A Critical Enquiry Martha Tevis and John W . McBride, University of Texas-Pan American, Possibilities: Kamil Jbeilythe Man and His Vision for the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching Philip Gould, University of Memphis, Creating a space in which the community of truth is practiced: Reflections on dimensions of teaching Mary Bevel and Virginia Altrogge, Webster University, Encouraging Empathy in School Administration Adam David Roth, University of Rhode Island, Platos W ritten Conception of Philosophy and Education Donna Sayman, Oklahoma State University, A Few Good Men or Are You Man Enough? an Analysis of Media Recruiting Campaigns and Men in Nursing Lucy Bailey, Oklahoma State University, Educational Traces and Spaces: Teaching Voices from the Civil W ar John Covaleskie, Oklahoma University, The Imperative of Moral Education Ralph Olliges, W ebster University, W ikis and Collaboration: Are They a Mix? Susan Birden, Buffalo State College, Aesthetic Entanglements: Re-Imagining Classroom Confession Samia Costandi, AHLIA University, Meandering through my Patchwork Quilt: Education as Cultural Imperialism & as a Site for Resistance David Snelgrove, University of Central Oklahoma, E Pluribus ad Pluribus: Historical Foundations of Multiculturalism Rafael Cervantes, St. Catherine University, Physical Education and the Labor of Leisure Maria McKenna, St. Louis University, Pestalozzi Revisited: Hope and Caution Regarding Change in Education Jim Van Patten, Florida Atlantic University and Barry Davidson, Troy University, Progressivism Then and Now Jerry Siegrist, Valdosta State University, Alternative Education Programs: A Response to Increasing Educational Diversity W ayne W illis, Morehead State University, Technopolic Fundamentalism, Data-Based Decision-Making, and the End of Education John Hunt, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, One States Journey Toward M odifying Principal Preparation Programs: Paternalism or Partnership? Kevin Hinegardner, University of Kansas, The Revolution W ill Not Be: A Historical Analysis of Paulo Freires Ideas in Art Education Literature

47. 52. 57. 61. 67. 73. 77. 81. 86. 101. 110. 121. 126. 133. 141. 145. 151.

JO U R N A L O F PH ILO SO PH Y A N D H ISTO R Y O F ED U C A TION , VO LU M E 60, 2010

PLATOS WRITTEN CONCEPTION OF PHILOSOPHY AND EDUCATION Adam David Roth, University of Rhode Island Abstract One of the principal debates concerning Platonic philosophy has centered on understanding why Plato wrote dialogues when writing was in clear violation of the Socratic conception of philosophy and its emphasis on the active, dialectical pursuit of truth. Scholars have tried to reconcile Platos use of writing by explaining writing away as a regrettable but necessary means to preserve Socratikoi logoi. Rather than understanding writing as a neutral attempt to represent Socratic philosophy, this paper will argue that writing is an integral part of Platos conception of philosophy, a way of generating a philosophical relationship between the text and its readers. In other words, Platos written conception of philosophy does not lie in a representation of a dialogical exchange between philosopher and interlocutor but in the dramatic effects this exchange may have on readers. My overall inquiry will try to identify what happens to the traditional understanding of Platos conception of philosophy once writing is no longer understood as a means for recording dialectic, but as a way of provoking readers into a philosophical quest. In this inquiry, I am following and extending the work of recent scholars who have begun to reinterpret Platos conception of philosophy on the basis of the effects his dialogues might have sought to create on contemporary and successive generations of readers. Introduction Platos Phaedrus has generated countless attempts by scholars to reconcile the paradox between, on the one hand, Platos critique of writing as an inadequate medium for representing his philosophy and, on the other hand, Platos decision to use writing and to preserve his philosophy in written texts. In addressing this paradox, Platonic scholars have had to confront the following dilemma: If Plato truly believed that philosophy could not be fully manifested through writing, then why do his written texts reek of philosophical inquiry? And, if Plato did not fully commit his philosophy to writing then how should his dialogues be understood? Even though this dilemma is perhaps ultimately irreconcilable, it has nevertheless taken center-stage in Platonic scholarship, and has spawned a broad spectrum of methods for reading Platonic texts and for appraising their significance within Platos conception of philosophy. In this paper, I will discuss some of the most important lines of interpretation that have addressed the problem of writing as key to understanding Platos conception of philosophy. However valid these lines of interpretation, they all approach writing, I argue, as solely a means of representing philosophical truths already attained through dialogical interaction. By exposing the limits that this approach places on our understanding of Platos philosophy, I provide an alternative view of Platos attitude toward writing, a view that can lead us to a deeper insight into Platos conception of philosophy. Specifically, I claim that writing can be regarded as a means of generating a relationship between text and readers, which I regard as both integral to and constitutive of Platos conception of philosophy. If we reduce the function of writing to a mere tool for conserving prior truths reached through dialectic, then only a historical recovery of Platos philosophy is possible. But if we take the process of philosophical inquiry as the cornerstone of Platos philosophy, then writing can be understood as playing a far more significant role than merely preserving past truths for posterity. In advancing this position, I do not mean to suggest, as Derrida did, that writing unconsciously funds all Platonic thinking an argument that seems to me to end where it begins. Rather, I regard Plato as consciously and strategically employing writing in order to produce a process of philosophical inquiry in such a way as to provoke interest in this process among readers known and unknown to him. By assigning writing with a productive and provocative function, I do not mean to dismiss the insights advanced by an entire tradition of Platonic scholars who have stressed the deficient nature of writing. Quite the contrary, several questions posed by the various lines of interpretation belonging to that tradition help fuel my own inquiry. Review of Literature Advancing perhaps the most extreme perspective on the problematic nature of writing, one line of interpretation argues that writing presented Plato with an unsurpassable problem, a limit he simply could not find a way to circumvent. As a result, proponents of this perspective maintain, Plato was forced to leave some of his higher philosophical principles aside, never even attempting to include them in his written texts. This perspective, in other words, obliges us to see Plato as having reserved the higher principles (timiotera) of his philosophy only for his

57

R O T H : P LA T O S W R IT TE N C O N C EP TIO N O F PH IL O SO P H Y A N D E D U C A T IO N

immediate interlocutors, and as having chosen to communicate these principles only through active and interpersonal dialectical exchanges. In addition to a chasm that it creates between Platos oral and written philosophy, this position renders Platos philosophy accessible to his contemporary interlocutors but conceals it from future generations of readers. Because of the inherent limits of writing, Platos written philosophy the only version to be accessed by modern readers communicates only the most fundamental principles of his philosophy. Are we to understand Plato as having developed two distinct forms of philosophy, one for oral and one for written discourse? Are we to believe that an intellect as great as Plato could not find a way around the limitations of writing? Another line of interpretation relies on a literal reading of the critique against writing in the Phaedrus in order to promote a view of writing as a regrettable but necessary means for preserving Socratic philosophy. Proponents of this position argue that Plato resorted to writing out of the obligation he felt philosophers have to disseminate the knowledge they had themselves attained in their pursuit of truth. Plato wrote dialogues, this position maintains, in order to share his knowledge with as many other people as possible, painfully aware of the inadequacies of writing for communicating this knowledge and for turning readers toward truth. This position construes orality as the perfect medium and writing as an inherently flawed medium to represent Platos philosophy. W ithout reproducing the sharp divide between an oral and a written philosophy associated with the previous position, proponents of this view defend the superiority of oral over written discourse, regarding the former as a far better suited medium to preserve the Socratikoi logoi. But if writing is inferior to oral discourse, what are the aspects of Platos philosophy that cannot be communicated through writing and must inevitably remain forever beyond the grasp of textual representation? Esoteric scholars such as Len Robin, Paul W ilpert, and Hans Kramer attempt to address this question by taking a more neutral stance toward writing. For these scholars, who regard writing as unsuitable to Platos project but not as inherently flawed, the difficulties created by writing do not so much cause an aspect of Platos philosophy to be left out of his written texts as much as to be concealed within them. Aspects of Platonic philosophy that would be immediately discernible to his dialogical interlocutors, in other words, remain concealed to readers of his texts due to the difficulties inherent in translating a living philosophy to its written counterpart. These problems of translation, however, are not unsurpassable and do not posit any insurmountable difficulties to Plato. On the contrary, Plato is regarded as having developed a writing strategy meant to address these problems directly, by guiding readers to access truths that are otherwise incommunicable. Platos ingenuity, the argument goes, turns writing and reading into intellectual exercises that test, challenge, and encourage the readers receptiveness to higher principles. This position divides the readers of Platos texts into two distinct and separate categories: those who can only experience the philosophical texts literally, at face value, and those who are able to recognize and pursue textual clues and interpretative pathways that lead to higher levels of understanding. Yet, is it possible, that Plato concerned himself with only two types of readers? If he is as ingenuous as these scholars claim he is, would he have really understood his readers as occupying one of two fixed and inflexible positions? Hermeneutic scholars such as Frederick Schliermacher and Hans Gadamer propose another line of interpretation by turning their attention to the interaction between text and reader, and by making this interaction essential to understanding the meaning of Platonic texts. Unlike the previous scholars, who assumed that Plato assigned readers to fixed positions, Schliermacher and Gadamer ascribe the role of active participant in the process of co-constructing the meaning of a given text to all readers. Because they regard the process of reading as a dynamic interaction between text and reader, they do not view writing as posing any particularly static problems to the act of interpreting texts. For as they construe it, each reading of a given text provides a continually changing experience for each reader as well as for each generation of readers. Consequently, a complete understanding of Platos philosophy emerges not through Platos strategic ways of leading the most competent readers to experience the concealed aspects of his philosophy, but through the horizon of interpretations formed by the totality of interactions between readers and texts, at any given time. But can the interaction between text and reader lead to nothing else beyond a sound reading of Platonic texts? Can the effects that the dialogues have on individual readers be reduced to one side of an interaction whose aim is merely to produce a correct interpretation? Might not these texts also be able to provoke interest in philosophical inquiry? My own position provides an alternative to the lines of interpretation I have discussed, even as it attempts to address, and to be informed by, some of the questions raised by them. By focusing on the process of philosophical inquiry as the cornerstone of Platos conception of philosophy, it becomes possible to understand writing as playing a far greater role than merely preserving philosophical knowledge. Indeed, the philosophical inquiry enacted in Platos works is neither necessarily connected nor inherently attached to some prior knowledge. Capturing the spirit

58

JO U R N A L O F PH ILO SO PH Y A N D H ISTO R Y O F ED U C A TION , VO LU M E 60, 2010

of Socratic dialectic on its path to self-knowledge entails the task of enacting this process in writing, not of representing it. Platos commitment to create a philosophy animated by Socrates teachings, in other words, does not oblige him to reflect these teaching in his works as much as to construct them in meaningful ways for his readers. From this view, writing is released from its function to represent accurately or to reflect faithfully something preexisting, something prior to the written dialogues. Instead, writing is assigned with the role of creating a process within which readers can pursue effectively the kind of philosophical inquiry that Socrates stood for and sought to generate orally with his immediate interlocutors. Once we judge writing not as a tool of accurate representation but as a means for dramatic enactment, then, the comparison between writing and orality becomes displaced and scholarly characterizations of writing as a poor substitute to orality or as an inadequate medium for reflecting philosophical truths become irrelevant. For the real judgment about writing must be made on the basis of how well Plato is able to perform a philosophical inquiry through his texts, and how successfully he can invite his readers to engage it and to accept it as meaningful for their existence. On this criterion, the verdict is out. For no one has ever doubted Platos ability to dramatize events in ways that captivate readers and engage their intellect and emotions, to create dramatic situations that unfold simultaneously in multiple directions and that offer different levels of intellectual and spiritual challenges each step along the way. Similarly, no one has ever questioned Platos ability to enact the philosophical inquiry he stood for without also finding a way to release the emotional and intellectual pleasures associated with it. In this case, Platos dialogues should not be understood referentially, as gestures aimed at conserving knowledge already attained through dialectic, but as performancetively, as dramatic events aimed at enacting the ongoing process of philosophical inquiry in all of its stages. For it is this performative enactment of philosophical inquiry that has enabled readers through the centuries to experience the journey to self-knowledge as though they were themselves part of it. Indeed, it is by performing the process through which the soul may eventually turn toward the divine that Platos texts constitute readers as prone toward divinity, elicit readers to enter the process of philosophical inquiry, and guides readers to find meaning and pleasure in the discoveries that this process makes possible. Conclusion As I have argued, one of the principal debates concerning Platonic philosophy has centered on understanding why Plato wrote dialogues when writing was in clear violation of the Socratic conception of philosophy and its emphasis on the active, dialectical pursuit of truth. Many scholars have attempted to reconcile Platos use of writing, sometimes by explaining writing away as a regrettable but necessary means to preserve Socratikoi logoi. Rather than understanding writing as a neutral attempt to represent Socratic philosophy, this paper argues that writing is an integral part of Platos conception of philosophy, a way of generating a philosophical relationship between the text and its readers. Platos written conception of philosophy does not lie in a representation of a dialogical exchange between philosopher and interlocutor, but in the dramatic effects this exchange may have on readers. My inquiry identifies what happens to the traditional understanding of Platos conception of philosophy once writing is not understood as a means for recording dialectic, but as a way of provoking readers into a philosophical journey. REFERENCES Blondell, Ruby (2009). Plato and the Art of Philosophical W riting. American Journal of Philology, 130, 3, 46568. Curren, Randall R. (2007). Philosophy of Education : An Anthology. Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies 27. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. Gerson, Lloyd P. (2009). Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists. International Philosophical Quarterly 49 4, 52526. Gonzalez, Francisco J. (2009). Plato and Heidegger : A Question of Dialogue. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009. Harland, Richard (1999). Literary Theory from Plato to Barthes : An Introductory History. New York: St. Martin's Press. Herrmann, Fritz-Gregor, & Stefan Bttner (2006). New Essays on Plato : Language and Thought in Fourth-Century 59

R O T H : P LA T O S W R IT TE N C O N C EP TIO N O F PH IL O SO P H Y A N D E D U C A T IO N

Greek Philosophy. Swansea Oakville, CT: Classical Press of W ales ;David Brown Book Co. Karamanolis, George E. (2006). Plato and Aristotle in Agreement? : Platonists on Aristotle from Antiochus to Porphyry. Oxford Philosophical Monographs. Oxford New York: Clarendon Press ;Oxford University Press. Klages, Mary (2006). Literary Theory : A Guide for the Perplexed. Guides for the Perplexed Series. London ; New York, NY: Continuum. Lesher, J. H., Debra Nails, & Frisbee C. C. Sheffield (2006). Plato's Symposium : Issues in Interpretation and Reception. Hellenic Studies 22. W ashington, DC, Cambridge, Mass.: Center for Hellenic Studies. Distributed by Harvard University Press. Lindenmuth, Donald C. (2009) Plato's Philosophers: The Coherence of the Dialogues. Review of Metaphysics 63 2: 498500. Mortensen, Chris (2000). Plato's Pharmacy and Derrida's Drugstore. Language & Communication 20, 4: 329. Murray, Penelope (2009). Plato and the Art of Philosophical W riting. Journal of Hellenic Studies 129: 23132. Plato (2009). Four Dialogues of Plato - Apology, Crito, Critias and Ion. 1st ed. Jackson Hole, W Y: Akasha Pub., LLC. Plato & David Gallop (1999). Phaedo. Oxford W orld's Classics. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press. Plato (2007). Phaedrus. 1st ed. Fairfield, IA: 1st W orld Library - Literary Society. (2009). The Republic. 1st ed. Jackson Hole, W Y: Akasha Pub., LLC. (2007). Sophist. 1st ed. Fairfield, IA: 1st W orld Library - Literary Society. (2009.. Timaeus. 1st ed. Jackson Hole, W Y: Akasha Pub., LLC. Sansone, David (2009). Once Again the Opening of Plato's Gorgias. Classical Quarterly 59, 2: 63133. Swaine, Lucas A. (1998). A Paradox Reconsidered: W ritten Lessons from Plato's Phaedrus. Educational Philosophy & Theory 30, 3: 259. Szlezk, Thomas Alexander (1999). Reading Plato. London ; New York: Routledge, 1999.

60