Wisdom, moderation, and elenchus in Plato's apology

Metaphilosophy 39 (3):345–362 (2008)
This article contends that Socratic wisdom (sophia) in Plato's Apology should be understood in relation to moderation (sophrosune), not knowledge (episteme). This stance is exemplified in an interpretation of Socrates' disavowal of knowledge. The god calls Socrates wise. Socrates holds both that he is wise in nothing great or small and that the god does not lie. These apparently inconsistent claims are resolved in an interpretation of elenchus. This interpretion says that Socrates is wise insofar as he does not believe himself to know what he does not know. Whether one knows is demonstrated through elenchus, which moderates between knowledge claims. Thus, elenchus is productive of a kind of wisdom even if it does not produce knowledge. This claim, if true, forms a suitable basis for Socrates' defense of himself. That it does so serves as further evidence for the interpretation of sophia as sophrosune.
Keywords wisdom  moderation  apology  Socrates  knowledge  elenchus
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