Source: How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (Revised 1972 ed.), p. 284 Top.

  Spinoza carried the conception even farther. His Ethics is written in strict mathematical form, with propositions, proofs, corollaries, lemmas, scholiums, and the like. However, the subject matter of metaphysics and of morals is not very satisfactorily handled in this manner, which is more appropriate for geometry and other mathematical subjects than for philosophical ones. A sign of this is that when reading Spinoza you can skip a great deal, in exactly the same way that you can skip in Newton. You cannot skip anything in Kant or Aristotle, because the line of reasoning is continuous; and you cannot skip anything in Plato, [1.] any more than you would skip a part of a play or poem. [End of 1.]

I have not read Plato's or Socrates's (as reported by Plato) œuvres entirely: so will someone who has, please explicate 1?

I agree that some parts cannot be skipped (e.g. those integral for the plot), but other parts can, particularly if you are skipping on, and your reading is guided by, the advice of scholars or teachers who have diagnosed which parts are less crucial?

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    Plato's dialogues are written as stories. If you opened up Anna Karenina, read the first three chapters, and then skipped to the last chapter you would be confused and would not have the ability to appreciate either the message Tolstoy was trying to communicate or the actual beauty of the story itself. Plato is telling a narrative and you will miss plot details etc if you skip around a narrative. Either way, this question is definitely not actually about philosophy even though it is related to philosophy and is therefore off topic for this SE. – Not_Here May 28 '17 at 22:07
  • I agree that you can skip, with any author, when you are guided by an expert. But the expert herself has hopefully read the entire text, without skipping... maybe this is the intention. – Ram Tobolski May 28 '17 at 23:10
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    This sounds maximalistic, but in a typical way (just as when we say "this is perfect" we do not mean it literally). By the way, judging by their works, Kant skipped a lot when reading Aristotle and Plato, and so did Quine with Kant and many others. And with all due respect to Tolstoy, there is a lot in War and Piece that can be skipped, while still getting the message. – Conifold May 29 '17 at 1:31
  • @Conifold sure but the message isn't the entire point of a work of art, you're still not getting a complete picture of the aesthetic value. You can read DFW without his footnotes but again you're missing a large part of the beauty. – Not_Here May 29 '17 at 2:22
  • This has nothing to do with philosophy. Plato's dialogues are complex texts, like Aristotle's treatises, Homer's poems, Tolstoy's novels or any mathematical textbook. We can understand them withoutr reading them fully and skipping parts of them ? Maybe... maybe not. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 29 '17 at 11:09

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