Title page for ETD etd-12082002-233253

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Gabor, Octavian
Author's Email Address ogabor@vt.edu, octaviangabor@hotmail.com
URN etd-12082002-233253
Title Dialogical Writing in Philosophy and Literature. A Study on Plato's Crito and Gorgias and Peacock's Nightmare Abbey
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Graham, Peter Committee Chair
Klagge, James C. Committee Member
Siegle, Robert B. Committee Member
  • dialogue
  • philosophy and literature
  • Plato
Date of Defense 2002-04-17
Availability unrestricted
Both Thomas Love Peacock and Plato use dialogue for their works while they differ in what they envisage and what they achieve, i.e. same form, different objectives. Thus, having Peacock and Plato writing dialogues in different frames - one literary and one philosophical - raises an important question: can literary writers be more provocative of thought in the audience than writers of philosophical dialogues? If so, what then are the features of dialogical writing, whether literary or philosophical, or common features that pertain to both these fields, that cause it to be respectful or nurturing to the minds that encounter it?

This question will underlie the whole paper. It actually comes from the fact that in dialogue, whether deployed in philosophical or literary texts, we do not see the author's opinion clearly expressed. In dialogue, and this is often true for Plato, the author's dogma loses itself under the various dogmas that the characters have; the author hides himself behind his personages. The readers do not encounter only one mind that has claims of revealing a truth - the philosophical approach - or that lays out a story - the literary one. In dialogue, the reader finds an ongoing discussion and becomes part of it. Through the analysis of two of Plato's dialogues, the Crito and the Gorgias, and Peacock's satirical novel, Nightmare Abbey, I intend to show that, used in philosophy or literature, dialogue seems to be the perfect tool to communicate the idea that once expressed becomes its negative: the only thing that we know is that we do not know anything.

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