Visiting Fellow, Summer 2019
Panagiotis Thanassas is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Aristotle University of Thessalo-niki. He has studied Law in Athens and Philosophy in Tübingen, where he received his Ph.D. (1996) with a dissertation on Parmenides. He has also taught at the Universities of Tübingen, Heidelberg, Munich and Cyprus. He is a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and has also received fellowships from the Evangelisches Studienwerk “Villigst”, from DAAD and from DFG. His research interests focus on Greek philosophy (Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle), German Idealism (Hegel), Heidegger and Philosophical Hermeneutics. His work has been published in journals such as Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, Review of Metaphysics, Journal of Philosophical Research, Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung, Rhizai, Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Philosophie, Gnomon, Rhizomata, Philosophische Rundschau, Deucalion and Hypomnema.
What counts as a prelude to Plato’s Republic? (1) The first word of the text? (2) Its first scene? (3) The dialogue’s first Book (characterized as a “proem” by Socrates himself)? Or (4) the first part, which extends up to the famous Simile of the Letters (369b)? The project examines these four options and argues that they constitute different, but complementary, ways of interpreting the dialogue as a whole. The methodological basis for this examination is a circular hermeneutics, which undertakes a twofold consecutive movement. First, it considers the crucial role that a prelude plays in a full and coherent understanding of a Platonic dialogue as a philosophical totali-ty; second, it illuminates anew the character of a prelude, in the light of this totality toward which it contributes. In particular, the role of the proems in the Republic might prove decisive in an-swering two questions: (a.) Is Book I an authentic part of the text, or is it an early, autonomous Platonic dialogue subsequently prefixed to the rest of the text? (b.) Is the Republic a project in (applied) political philosophy? If the questions dealt with in the subsequent books are first and clearly formulated in Book I, then there is probably no need to question its status. And the pro-posed co-examination might also ascertain that justice in the city is only a preliminary question, which will help us answer the initial, fundamental question concerning justice in the soul, as the “dominant” part of individual eudaimonia.