The Platonic dialogues allow for different constellations and possibilities for examining the forms of interaction between imaginations of space and non-spatial concepts. In the literary-mythological context of space and spaces, the boundaries which demarcate reality can be extended even into the realm of the fantastic; this is achieved through the medium of pictorial imagination. The fantastic and mythical spaces and places can later have an effect on the perception of real spaces and on the sensible-perceptible cosmos. In philosophical theories and contexts, spatial elements and pictorial images can be used to convey more easily states of affairs or entities which are non-pictorial, like the human soul and its immortality, or even purely intelligible and conceptual principles and ideas. In all of these cases, there is a substantial interaction between an imagined spatial ordering of something that exceeds the dimensions of the perceptible and imagination based on the spatial order of sense perception and socio-political reality. The project analyzes the multi-faceted complexity of these reciprocal relationships in myths, psychology, cosmology as well as the natural sciences in general. As Plato’s dialogues are the starting and focal point of the individual analysis, we also pose the question how the spatial dimension in the scene of the dialogue interacts with philosophical positions posed in the dialogue and the content of individual discussions. On account of this, the project takes a variety of different approaches and perspectives and combines various methods. In addition to the philological methods of close-reading and source criticism, there are genuine philosophical concerns in the Platonic dialogues and questions dealing with the social context which forms an important framework for the dialogues and their reception. Plato’s dialogues do not just portray the relationship between spatial imagery and non-spatial conceptual thought using the means of philosophical argumentation and myth but reflect on these categories as well. In using Plato as a starting point to reflect on how these categories are conceived in his philosophy, we will also have to examine these conceptions and clarify how they explicitly function in his predecessors’ and successors’ philosophies, which will also shed more light on Plato himself.
The group’s research has focused on the following:
- A comparison and synthesis of different methodological approaches to the specific type of imagination and spatiality in Platonic myths and a scholarly exchange on various topics and selected ideas which the individual projects focus on, i.e. the argumentative structure of the dialogues; theories of the skopos; the concept of literature presupposed in the dialogues; the ordering of information in the dialogues and myths; narratology.
- An exchange on the different technological possibilities and methods for interpreting the relevant texts and composing a corpus of supplementary texts and passages.
- Platonic myths in the context of other Early Greek and Classical texts, e.g. cosmological models of the Presocratics, Herodotus’ Histories.
- Situating and discussing the concept of imagination and visual representation in Platonic myths and its relationship to conceptual, non-visual content within the parameters of modern discourses on the image, otherwise known as the iconic turn. This discussion takes place in a systematic, historical and historically affected context. For the success of the project it is essential that the research group not only take into account different approaches and methods unique to classical philology, but also conduct this discussion in the context of present-day literary and philosophical debates on account of the general nature of the question, i.e. what is the specific nature of the way Platonic myths spatialize and visualize conceptual, non-visual elements and what is its relationship to “literature”. The collaborative efforts of the group as a whole and the individual projects have been coordinated with this goal in mind.