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Allegories and Metaphors in Early Political Thought

From Plato to Machiavelli

Kevin Dooley

Allegories and Metaphors in Early Political Thought: From Plato to Machiavelli examines allegories and metaphors that best exemplify the ideologies of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Niccolo Machiavelli. Author Kevin Dooley’s approach allows readers to gain a greater understanding of each thinker’s ideas through the lens of metaphor, which stimulates imaginative discussions and more thoughtful reflections.

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Chapter 3: Aristotle (384–322 BC): Acorns and Oak Trees, the Feast

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ARISTOTLE (384–322 BC)

Acorns and Oak Trees, the Feast

Introduction

As we have already said, allegories and metaphors are literary, theological, and philosophical devices that seek to transform provincial constraints into universal applications. Plato’s allegories were designed to carry the reader into a world of ideas beyond her/his frame of reference. Plato was not interested in merely solving the democratic dilemma that faced Athens—he wanted to extend his concern to all of those who tread upon the precarious edge of self-rule. After all, Justice, Happiness, Truth, and even Love are not to be conceived of or craved by one particular group, but by all. In Plato we see the questions of Socrates—the founder of Western philosophy—asked in dialogue form. We are given access to an animated pack of Athenians debating Justice and Truth, as well as answers about life itself. But most of all, we are given the opportunity to reflect upon stories that lend themselves to suspensions of reality. Plato is as much of a poet or playwright as he is a philosopher and, in his words, we are able to understand a world beyond our senses.

It is perhaps surprising then that he would have a student like Aristotle. In Aristotle, we see a thinker—just as influential as Plato—but less committed to the artful depictions of Socratic inquiry. Aristotle was just as prolific and diverse, producing a catalogue...

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