Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought

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Product Details

Belknap Press
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.3 X 1.1 inches | 1.27 pounds

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About the Author

Tae-Yeoun Keum is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was previously the Christopher Tower Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, University of Oxford.


Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought provides a fine, original, and persuasive case for a reconsideration of Plato's myths and their bearing on political thought. Tae-Yeoun Keum's reading of Plato as a political philosopher who sees the value of myth-making deserves a wide audience.--Tushar Irani, author of Plato on the Value of Philosophy
Tae-Yeoun Keum traces a rich tradition reflecting on Plato's use of myth, revealing how attention to myth as a literary artifact can modulate its relationship to unchallenged social verities and serve in philosophical self-examination and social improvement. Her readings of More, Bacon, Leibniz, the German Idealists, and Cassirer are subtle and original in drawing out these themes.--Melissa Lane, Princeton University
An important book for our troubled times. Beginning with Plato and extending into Plato's reception amongst modern theorists of myth, Keum's guiding question is whether myth, in its ability to captivate the mind in what might be described as a non-rational way, can achieve forms of communication that strictly rational thought cannot, and whether there may be a normative role for myth to play in political discourse today.--Angus Nicholls, Queen Mary University of London
Myths do more than entertain. They direct our attention, structure our psyches, and regulate our societies. By taking the philosophical significance of myth seriously, Tae-Yeoun Keum rediscovers the depth of Plato's writings and offers a remarkable new account of his legacy. Following in the rich tradition of Ernst Cassirer and Hans Blumenberg, Keum suggests that myth and reason are not opposites, but instead complementary parts of the human effort to understand.--Bryan Garsten, Yale University
In the history of political thought it is a well-worn conceit that politics must be founded on reason alone, while the last burning embers of myth must be extinguished. In this thoughtful and nuanced exploration of Plato's legacy, Tae-Yeoun Keum seeks to qualify this prejudice, and she directs our attention to a more generous understanding of myth as an enduring--and perhaps even necessary--thread in the fabric of our collective life.--Peter E. Gordon, Harvard University