This is a wide-ranging anthology that examines, in chronological order, several genres that have been prominent in the history of Western philosophy. The programmatic introduction outlines the diverse range of genres used by philosophers (dialogue, commentary, biography, etc.) and explains how genre-based exegesis can enrich our analysis and interpretation of philosophical texts.
The remaining essays examine individual texts from this perspective. This examination begins with two studies of Plato’s dialogues. It then turns to three studies of ancient and medieval texts in which genre is used to explore the boundaries of “philosophy.” The next eight essays examine representative philosophical works from the Middle Ages to the present. The epilogue considers how disparate genres and styles may be used to establish different ethical relationships between the author, the audience, and the subject matter.