Socratic authority

This paper offers a critical examination of the notion of epistemic authority in Plato. In the Apology, Socrates claims a certain epistemic superiority over others, and it is easy to suppose that this might be explained in terms of third-person authority: Socrates knows the minds of others better than they know their own. Yet Socrates, as the text makes clear, is not the only one capable of getting the minds of others right. His epistemic edge is rather a matter of first-person authority: while others falsely think they are wise, Socrates is in a position to realize he is ignorant. By contrast with, say, a Cartesian picture, for Plato third-person authority with regard to the mind is relatively commonplace, whereas first-person authority is as rare as Socrates. I discuss the basis for this view, and some of its implications for the notion of a distinctively first-person mode of access.
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DOI 10.1515/AGPH.2008.001
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