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Title: The Law of the Stranger
Subtitle: Waldenfels, Plato, and the Origin of the Legal Order
Author(s): JANSSENS, David
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 13    Issue: 3   Date: september 2006   
Pages: 383-410
DOI: 10.2143/EP.13.3.2017781

Abstract :
Waldenfels’ reception of the Platonic dialogues is markedly ambivalent. On the one hand, Plato recurrently appears as a major philosophical antagonist. Like Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida, Waldenfels charges Plato with having fettered Socrates’ boundless questioning to a closed meta- physical system in which there is no place for the strange. On the other hand, he occasionally hints at an “other,” more Socratic Plato whose thought he seems to view as much more akin to his own. This “other” Plato, however, plays only a marginal role in the order of Waldenfels’ phenomenology. This paper argues that the suggestion of an “other” Plato can be fruitfully explored, precisely by viewing him as a Socratic, i.e., by reading his work as an attempt, not to contain and defer Socrates’s strangeness, but to confront the reader with it. The dialogues, it will be argued, are designed to guide the reader to the non-place, the atopos, from which Socrates raises his questions. As a privileged example, the paper discusses Plato’s Socratic exploration of the aporias involved in the foundation of a legal order.

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