Ryle, Gilbert (1900–76)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD060-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 25, 2020, from

4. The return to Greek philosophy

Besides his collected papers, the other major work published by Ryle after Dilemmas was a series of articles on Plato which culminated in his book Plato’s Progress (1966). This was a reappraisal of the chronology of Plato’s dialogues, and included the provocative claim that the dialogues had been written for dramatic performance. In the following year his magisterial entry on Plato appeared in Paul Edwards’ Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1967). These essays in Greek philosophy were not the sign of a change of direction in the last part of his life, but a reversion to one of his earliest philosophical interests. His interest in Greek philosophy, which encompassed both Plato and Aristotle, had never waned. In the 1930s he had immersed himself in Plato’s later dialogues; this concentration culminated in his paper on the Parmenides (1939) and in a review of Cornford’s book on the same dialogue. These works initiated a revolution in the philosophical interpretation of Plato’s later work. In the 1950s Ryle was still enthralling undergraduates with a detailed series of lectures on the Theaetetus; he was a powerful lecturer - tall, firm-voiced, dryly humorous and incisive. When Ryle died in 1976, among his ‘work in progress’ there was a paper on Plato’s Meno.

Citing this article:
Lyons, William. The return to Greek philosophy. Ryle, Gilbert (1900–76), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD060-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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