"Inevitably" . . .

because philosophers and scholars who wrestle with the problem of the self and especially its relationship to writing (Eric Havelock, Walter Ong, and Jacques Derrida, to name but three of the more influential ones) so often return to Plato's Phaedrus as a point of origin. With subtle but delicious irony, Jasper Neel explains Plato's status on these questions as a function of writing:

What makes Plato important is not that he invented the idea of the soul, or even the idea of a split between the soul and the body. What makes Plato important is that he opened the idea in history as writing so that it could remain open for all time (1988, 75).

Return to Plato Lives.