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Title: Philosophia and Philotechnia: The Techne Theme in the Platonic Dialogues
Authors: Hulme Kozey, Emily Luise
Advisors: Wildberg, Christian
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: craft
Subjects: Philosophy
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: “Good God! You never shut up about cobblers and fullers and cooks and doctors!” So Callicles charges Plato's Socrates with an excessive fascination with the τέχναι in the Gorgias (491a). Callicles certainly has a point: Plato refers to τέχνη (“art,” “craft,” “profession,” “expertise”) hundreds of times in the dialogues, while also portraying Socrates as a former δημιουργός (“craftsman,” “professional”) himself (Alc. 1.121a; Euthphr. 11c). In my dissertation, I examine the philosophical importance of τέχνη in Plato. The first part discusses the idea of τέχνη in the wider Greek world of the fifth and fourth centuries. Chapter one shows how Plato connects Socrates with the god of craft, Hephaistos, and how this is related to the Athenian setting of the dialogues. The second chapter uses literary, art historical, and epigraphic sources to identify four major features of a τέχνη: (I) connection with low social status; (II) teachability; (III) specialization; (IV) rationality. The second part of the dissertation turns to Plato proper. The third chapter examines the important question of how Plato’s terms for crafts, knowledge, learning, and professions are structured. Contrary to previous work that has asserted the equivalence of τέχνη and ἐπιστήμη, I argue that ἐπιστήμη picks up on the teachable, intellectual component of τέχνη. Against a common misconception, I argue that the opposite of τέχνη for Plato is not ἐμπειρία (“experience,” “practice”) but πάρεργον (“hobby”) and that this contrast, and the one made by the terms for the individuals who pursue each of these (δημιουργός/ἰδιώτης, “professional”/ “amateur”), is central to Plato’s conception of what makes something a true τέχνη. For Plato, mere book knowledge will not be enough: extensive practice or experience is, in fact, an absolute requirement for true mastery of a given field. The fourth and fifth chapters then turn to this theme in two related contexts. First, I assess how Plato portrays the sophists as practitioners of pseudo-τέχναι; and then, in the final chapter, I turn to the Republic, where philosophy itself is construed as a τέχνη.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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