After a review of some general issues surrounding the interpretation of Plato's dialogues, I consider in detail the reception of Plato's Protagoras in English scholarship since 1956, that is, during the last half century. That scholarship falls into three periods. At first (1956-82) there was a sharp division between analytic philosophy commentators and other commentators, but near-unanimity in adopting a “Democritean” conception of the text as composed of discrete, separable parts. In the second period (1983-92), an “Aristotelian” conception of the text, in which functionally distinct parts coordinate with each other within a whole, became a serious rival to the Democritean one. Since 1992, several Aristotelian strategies have been developed. I diagnose these trends as an indication of growing sensitivity to the unity of Protagoras and its integration of literature and theory. I use this review to draw some morals about exegesis and scholarly specialization.
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Jonathan Lavery; Plato's Protagoras and the Frontier of Genre Research: A Reconnaissance Report from the Field. Poetics Today 1 June 2007; 28 (2): 191–246. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-2006-021
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