IPT Talk Series 2023-24

5 March 2024, 20.00-21.00 (Greece time) (Online)

Susanna Saracco

(University of Sydney)

Plato and Diagrammatic Reasoning

Plato’s words are not aimed at conveying a static description of how things are. Plato has created texts that call out for the readers’ own active contributions. In “Plato, Diagrammatic Reasoning and Mental Models” (Palgrave Macmillan) I have chosen to collaborate with Plato’s text using the interdisciplinary approach to research which is a characteristic trait of Plato’s thought. In the sixth book of the Republic (VI 509 d-511), Plato uses a line segment subdivided into sections to explain what are, for him, the stages of intellectual development of the human being and what are the objects of knowledge pertinent to each phase of cognition. This divided line has been the subject of myriads of interpretative efforts, but noone has investigated the reasons why Plato has chosen a schematization to represent intellectual progress. My research on diagrammatic reasoning is the first attempt to point to this riddle, and to the possible clues that can be helpful to solve it. Contemporary research on visual thinking in mathematics creates the chance to consider the epistemological importance of visualization: thinking visually, discoveries can be made. This awareness of the use of diagrams to make us discover is just the beginning of an investigation which will show that Plato, describing the stages of human cognitive evolution, poses a logic problem to stimulate the development of the general reasoning abilities of his readers.

Susanna Saracco is a post-doctoral researcher, having received her PhD in philosophy from the University of Sydney, Australia. She has studied Philosophy of Technology at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver and she holds an MA in Ancient Philosophy from the University of Turin, Italy. She is the author of the books Plato and Intellectual Development: A New Theoretical Framework Emphasising the Higher-Order Pedagogy of the Platonic Dialogues (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and Plato, Diagrammatic Reasoning and Mental Models (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023). Her pieces have been published in Metaphilosophy, International Journal for Transformative Research, Philosophia: Philosophical Quarterly of Israel, Athens Journal of Humanities and Arts [Special Issue on ‘Ideas of Plato in the Philosophy of the 21st century’], Humanities Bulletin and Plato Journal.

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