"Good God! You never shut up about cobblers and fullers and cooks and doctors!" So Callicles charges Plato's Socrates with an excessive fascination with the technai in the Gorgias (491a). Callicles, certainly, has a point: Plato makes arguments from or about techne hundreds of times in the dialogues, while also portraying Socrates as a former demiurgos himself (Alc. 1.121a) who passes his time in the Agora--near important administrative buildings, to be sure, but also among bronze-workers and masons.
In my dissertation, I examine the philosophical importance of techne in Plato. In my first chapter, I develop a fresh interpretation of the concept in the classical period, drawing not just on literary evidence but economic and art history as well. Four aspects of techne stand out: first, it generally is associated with low-class, full-time occupations; second, it is closely related to teaching; third, practitioners of a given techne are specialized; and last, it is associated with rationality, which is exemplified by its association with step-wise protocols, writing, and mathematics.
In the subsequent chapters, I analyze how this rich concept is deployed by Plato as a way to differentiate his philosophy from his intellectual rivals. By developing philosophy and "true" politics on the model of techne, Plato can differentiate himself from the sophists, who promise quick fix intellectualism and plausibly are associated with irrational magic; and, he can also differentiate his teleological natural philosophy from the theories of the Presocratics.
Episteme and Techne in the Platonic Dialogues:
I have been working on Plato's knowledge vocabulary, and especially the terms episteme and techne, in the course of my dissertation research. I am currently working on a paper revisiting John Lyons's work. I have also presented on the use of these terms in the Republic and Statesman. I have posted summaries of this work below.
Propaganda and Religious Innovation in the Republic:
In the course of researching the cult of Hephaistos for my dissertation, I noticed Plato refers to newer Athenian cults (e.g., Bendis, Basile, etc.) more often than most Greek authors. I have a project exploring how Plato's interest in the religious innovations of the Athenian democracy, signalled particularly by his mention of Bendis at the beginning of the Republic, should impact our understanding of his own politically motivated mythmaking. A summary is posted below ("The Noble Lie Revisited").
The Second Antinomy in the Parmenides:
I suggest an interpretation of the second antinomy in the Parmenides, wherein we distinguish two kinds of participation in a Form. Summary will be posted below.