Borges and Plato: A Game with Shifting Mirrors. by Shlomy Mualem

By Shlomy Mualem

This comparative method exhibits how the Platonic perspective sheds new gentle on Borges' essayistic and fictional paintings. Analyses to which quantity his notion is deeply rooted in classical philosophical doctrines.

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Extra info for Borges and Plato: A Game with Shifting Mirrors.

Sample text

He bases his personal preference of mythos over logos on his critique of abstract definitions: the only proper way of ‘defining’ essential things is the poetic expression of the mythos. Nevertheless, in his writing he artfully interweaves logos and mythos, developing two unique literary genres: the fictional essay in his prose writing and the intellectual poem in his verse. In a more comparative manner, it is clear that Borges and Plato uphold antithetic stances concerning the interrelations between logos and mythos; Borges subordinates the former to the latter whereas Plato does the opposite.

According to Monegal, once the newspaper went so far as to report an imaginary uprising among the Chaco Indians in northern Argentina (Monegal 251). Borges himself has used false attributions, distortion of sources, and fictitious biographies already in his early book A Universal History of Infamy (1935); this tendency is linked, no doubt, to his idealistic bias, which will be analyzed in the following chapters. In one of his early essays he tries to justify this tendency, assuming that “even a false fact can be truthful regarded as a symbol” (OC: II, 252; my translation).

The Platonic quotation is taken from Ion (534b). Plato refers here to the poet and not to poetry in general. It is possible that the tension between the quest for abstract definitions and an awareness of the limitations of this quest distinguishes Socratic from Platonic philosophies. See especially Plato’s reservation about the attempt to abstractly express his philosophy in a treatise, in the Seventh Epistle. ✐ ✐ ✐ ✐ ✐ ✐ “Mualem” — 2011/12/7 — 8:06 — page 36 — #36 ✐ 36 ✐   : MYTHOS  LOGOS definition (note that he does not doubt the very legitimacy of the quest for truth).

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