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Poetic Philosophy in Plato and Zhuangzi


This dissertation argues that written form is essential, not accessory, to philosophical content, with particular focus on Plato and Zhuangzi. In the case of these two thinkers, the written forms they have left us are what I call poetic: full of metaphor, imagery, narrative, etc.—characterized in some sense by a lack of systematic analysis. Attending to form thus entails (1) expanding our notion of what counts as philosophically meaningful and (2) radically different interpretations of what Plato and Zhuangzi are up to—i.e., reading their work as poetic texts rather than as containers for preconceived notions in Platonism or Daoism. The dissertation speaks, hopefully, to audiences in comparative literature, philosophy (especially the history of philosophy), classics, and sinology.

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