- ConcentrationPhilosophy and Social StudiesAffiliationUniversity of CreteResearch Project:Socrates in the Phaedo
Chloe Balla is an Assistant Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Crete. She studied philosophy and classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Thessaloniki. Her research focuses on the texts of the Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as on the Greek medical writers. She is the author of Platonic Persuasion: From the Art of the Orator to the Art of the Statesman (in Modern Greek; Athens: Polis, 1997). She has edited proceedings of conferences that she organized (Philosophy and Rhetoric in Classical Athens; [in Greek; Irakleio: University of Crete Press, 2008; modified version of Rhetorica 25.1 (2007); co-edited, with P. Kotzia and G. Zografidis, Deaths of philosophers in antiquity [in Greek; special issue of Υπόμνημα στη φιλοσοφία, n. 9, 2011]. Her most recent work includes a Modern Greek translation of Aristotle’s Athenaion Politeia (in collaboration with Robert W. Wallace, who contributed with a commentary and a preface; to appear by Nissos publications/Stavros Niarchos Foundation).
About the Research Project
Socrates in the Phaedo
Platonic scholarship in the past few decades is marked by a strong interest in the dialogue form, which involves a growing awareness of the significance of the choice of characters and their historical background. I would like to contribute to this approach through a study of the Phaedo, focusing on the construction of Socrates’ character. My topic combines two distinct yet interrelated directions, pertaining (a) to argumentative method and (b) to the question of divination and religion. I am particularly interested in the connection between the question of proper method in argumentation and the dialogue’s ostensible focus on the notion of purification. According to the reading I propose to pursue, it is possible to bridge these two apparently disconnected directions (one more rational, seeing the dialogue as taking sides on a discussion of argumentative practice; the other more spiritual, seeing it, along the lines of the more traditional interpretation, as devoted to the ‘salvation’ of the soul once it has been separated from the body), by exploring the notion of catharsis through reason. In particular, I propose to argue that in the Phaedo Plato constructs Socrates’ character in a way that allows him to draw the line, on the one hand between the practice of antilogic and philosophy grounded on a theory of Forms, and on the other hand (and parallel to the former) between divination and the rational pursuit of the study of the cosmos.