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Platonic myths and their metaphysic foundations

Grant number: 21/07394-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2021
Effective date (End): November 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Metaphysics
Principal Investigator:Roberto Bolzani Filho
Grantee:Bruno Fontana Nishiyama Bernardes Ferreira
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The project aims at elucidating the existing relationship between Philosophy and Myth in a few platonic dialogues. Throughout the entire History of Philosophy, there may never have been someone else to articulate these two forms of discourse with as much mastery and creativity as Plato. The founder of the Academy, in this way, not only holds the classic alias, together with Socrates, of "founder of Philosophy", but also asserts himself as an inescapable reference in the study of the relationship between the discipline he founded and Myth. We wish to find out, more specifically, how mythological discourse plays into the general field of Platonic metaphysics and epistemology, which were laid down in dialogues such as The Symposium, Phaedrus, The Republic, and Timaeus. To that end, we depart from the assumption that Plato hardly would have given Myth so much room in his work, had he not seen some intrinsic value in it, some privileged, perhaps unique, capability for the transmission of the knowledge he wished to impart. In short, we set out to investigate platonic myths and their metaphysical foundations. Moreover, we are not afraid to say that this is one of the most important problems in Philosophy History; after all, that was born with this. Namely, from a historical angle, what we call philosophical speech appears in Ancient Greece as it differs, gradually, from the mythological worldview which precedes it. The Presocratics, for example, still seemed to have, at least in literary form, considerable proximity to the mythical poetry. Plato, although he had already slightly distanced himself from that way of expression, still wrote his dialogues with high poetic content and narrated a lot of myths constantly. From Aristotle onwards, at last, the philosophical speeh is specified with greater intensity, gaining, increasingly, more independence from the mythopoetic speech, to the point that it was seen, in Modernity, by a philosopher like Hegel, who was opposed to the Myth; and, not by accident, today the term "myth" is frequently taken as a synonym for "lie" or "superstition", and as an antonym for "truth" or "science". Therefore, "Philosophy and Myth" has become an essential theme for Philosophy itself, as it inexorably reflects on its own nature, its origins, and its foundations. But one thing is the historical question of the origins of Philosophy, another is the intrinsic problem of the relationship between Myth and Philosophy as two distinct forms of discourse. Despite both themes being connected "de facto", in an investigation like this it is necessary to separate them "de jure". History, Anthropology, or even Linguistics are interested in the first; in the second, Philosophy itself, the field of study that concerns our interests. In that regard, our objective is to understand, from some specific dialogues, which was the platonic vision about this last theme. In other words, we want to investigate the way in which the founder of the Academy thought metaphysically and epistemologically the relationship between philosophical and mythological discourse, articulating them exquisitely in his dialogues. (AU)

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