Poetry and Philosophy
This study argues that Aristophanes Clouds offers a §serious critique of Socrates and a coherent two part §attack on Socratic philosophy. The first prong of §the attack, that Socrates was a natural philosopher, §provides the basis for the second prong, the §rhetorical charge that Socrates makes the weaker §argument the stronger. This rhetorical and §scientific understanding of philosophy allows §Aristophanes to argue that Socrates undermines the §family, traditional religion and morality, Athenian §custom, and political health more generally. §Plato s Republic is used as the counterpoint to §Aristophanes charges, in which Socrates argues that §poetry does not contribute to the correct §understanding of the gods or human excellence. §Thus, poetry s pedagogy creates flawed human beings, §while misunderstanding what is necessary for good §citizenship and political health more generally. §The final part of the study examines the two notions §of political health; the relative rank order of §poetry, philosophy, and politics; and the §implications of this study for modern politics.