What is the purpose of having a new internet journal of Plato when we already have several good journals on ancient philosophy? The internet medium, in general, offers the advantages of speed of communication and universality of access. The fact that the journal is centred on one – hugely famous and complex – philosopher enables focus, depth and continuity of debate.
One obvious function of such a journal is that it can give information about recent Platonic events. In this issue, we have reports of two conferences held in September 2000, on epistemology (Frankfurt) and on the good (Liechtenstein). Another possible function is to discuss important new books on Plato: in this issue, Luc Brisson reviews the first three volumes of the new commentary on Plato’s Republic by a team led by Mario Vegetti. Also an internet journal can carry forward debate about current issues (for instance, issues which emerge in the Triennial Symposia Platonica of the International Plato Society) or can enable scholars to offer a personal view of current Platonic scholarship. In this issue Christopher Rowe surveys recent trends in Platonic scholarship and Noburo Notomi offers his perspective on the development of Platonic scholarship in Japan. But this journal should, surely, also publish papers that are of interest in their own right. Here, Enid Bloch maintains that Plato’s famous picture of the death of Socrates in the Phaedo is, after all, an accurate one, and Michel Narcy seeks to uncover the original, Platonic-Aristotelian meaning of the ‘irony’ of Socrates – a trait originally seen as less charming than modern scholars usually suppose.
Another advantage of an internet journal is that it permits immediate debate. Readers wishing to respond should send their comments to C.J.Gill@exeter.ac.uk for possible inclusion in the journal. Please be as brief as your point allows. Papers in this issue are mostly short (under 4000 words) and it would be good if respondents could also be succinct.
No doubt, there are other possible roles and formats for such a journal. This is a new venture; and I have undertaken to prepare this issue, and a second to appear later in the Spring, to allow the International Plato Society, and readers generally, to gauge the usefulness of this project.
One issue that arises is that of language. The world’s most widely-used language, especially as a second language, is English; and so there would be a case for publishing the journal wholly in English. But would it still remain an international journal? The International Plato Society uses five official languages for papers at its Symposia and for its publications and that is the policy we have followed here. Contributors have normally written in their native language. Where it has seemed useful, the paper has been prefaced with a short summary in English.
Christopher Gill (University of Exeter, UK)
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