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Summary

Plato's Charmides is the earliest and most radical investigation of the structure, limits, and value of self-knowledge to be found in Ancient Greek thought.  It initiates as a typical “Socratic dialogue” in search of the definition of a virtue, here σωφροσύνη (sophrosune/sophrosyne) variously translated as “moderation”, "temperance," “sound-mindedness”, "self-control", etc. The dialectic steeply accelerates at 164d, when Critias proposes to identify sophrosune with the familiar Delphic and Socratic ideal of "knowing oneself". Suitably unpacked, the definition becomes, first, "knowledge of knowledge and ignorance", and then, "to know what one knows and what one does not know".  Remarkably, in light of the central role played by an ideal of self-knowledge (as well as other self-relations) in Plato’s dialogues, Socrates' examination here raises three significant challenges to the possibility and usefulness of self-knowledge. 1) Self-knowledge would be a species of self-relation, but the logical form of a self-applying relation or power (δύναμις), is unclear, leading in some cases (notably quantitative relations) to contradiction and in others (notably intentional relations) to a lack of well-foundedness. 2) The formulation "to know what one knows and what one does not know", invokes an important distinction between knowing what (ἅ) is (not) known, viz., something about something, and knowing only that (ὅτι) a given judgment is an instance of (not) knowing, without distinguishing the object of first-order (non-) knowledge. Socrates finds that when we are most confident in the possibility of second-order knowledge, we are speaking of its opaque form, while when we are most confident in its usefulness we are speaking of its transparent form. 3) Supposing that the object/objects of second-order knowledge can somehow be correctly specified, the virtue-making usefulness of such knowledge can be directly challenged, for it seems not to be knowledge of knowledge and ignorance that helps us but instead knowledge of the good and the bad. The dialogue invites its readers to reconsider the concept of self-knowledge in light of these problems, and to try to determine in what the significant differences between Socratic and Critian versions of an ideal of self-knowledge might lie.

Key works The extent to which some major works of ancient philosophy should be regarded, in part, as secondary works on the Charmides is only recently coming to be appreciated. The problems about the reflexivity of intentional acts and states posed in the Charmides seem to have directly informed Aristotle’s attempts to give satisfactory accounts of self-perception and self-knowledge in De Anima; the same problematic is developed by Augustine (e.g. in On Free Choice). In medieval and modern philosophy, the origin of these trains of thought in the Charmides were forgotten, and the dialogue neglected. From the turn of the twentieth century to the present, six monographs exclusively devoted to the Charmides have appeared in English: those of Tuckey 1951, HYLAND 1981, van der Ben 1985, Schmid 1998, Tuozzo 2011, and Levine 2015. To these, one can add significant chapters of Kahn 1996, González 1998, Lampert 2010, Moore 2015, and especially Sprague 1976 in which her reconstruction of the problem of knowledge of knowledge in the Charmides plays a central role in establishing what S. takes to be Plato's overarching philosophical thesis: the identification of strictly philosophical knowledge as second-order knowledge. Martens 1973 includes a bibliography focused on the German-language literature reaching back through the nineteenth century. Two of the most important recent discussions are Kosman 2014 and McCabe 2015, arguing respectively for restrictive and expansive views of the scope of knowledge of knowledge in the Charmides, both in light of De Anima.
Introductions Brann 2004, a significant interpretation in its own right, also provides a near-presuppositionless introduction to the dialogue. Chapter 16 of Adamson 2014, adapted from the HOPWAG podcast, reaches the interesting problems with record concision. In Jowett 1891, J.'s introduction to and analysis of the dialogue, as distinct from his translation, are still useful. The Charmides currently lacks an SEP entry. Ultimately, Plato's dialogues are arguably their own best introductions; as most readers will approach them in translation, we turn to these. Lamb 1927, the basis of the bilingual Loeb edition, is so careful as to remain useful despite its obvious datedness; dynamic versions linked to current reference tools can be freely accessed at the several incarnations of the Perseus Project. (See record for links.) The best English translation without parallel Greek is Moore & Raymond 2019, which makes numerous improvements on the hitherto-standard Sprague 1973.  
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  1. added 2019-09-08
    Dialectic, Drama and Self-Knowledge in Plato’s Charmides.Melina G. Mouzala - 2016 - Studia Gilsoniana 5 (1):179-194.
    [Language of the article: Greek] Charmides is a dialogue highly indicative of the importance that the prologues to Plato’s works have for our understanding of the whole spirit and philosophical content of each dialogue as a whole. It is representative of the Platonic tendency to always combine philosophical content with dramatic form through narrative and drama, in order to enhance the reader’s and audience’s insight into the inquiries of his philosophical work. Following this line of presentation, the prologue of Charmides (...)
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  2. added 2019-09-06
    Meno and Other Dialogues: Charmides, Laches, Lysis, Meno. Plato - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
    In these four dialogues Plato considers virtue and its definition. Charmides, Laches, and Lysis investigate the specific virtues of self-control, courage, and friendship; the laterMeno discusses the concept of virtue as a whole, and whether it is something that can be taught.
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  3. added 2019-06-13
    Two Rival Conceptions of Sôphrosunê.Alan Pichanick - 2005 - Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought 22 (2):249-264.
    Many commentators still take the Delphic speech in the Charmides as Socrates' opinion of sophrosune. This is a misreading. The speaker is Critias, a future tyrant, and close analysis reveals his conception of self- knowledge, as a godlike and self-certain wisdom, to be perverted by his tyrannical views. His conception of sophrosune must be distinguished from Socrates' , and while the former conception is refuted in the dialogue, the latter is not.
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  4. added 2019-06-07
    Bernd Witte, "Die Wissenschaft Vom Guten Und Bosen: Interpretationen Zu Platons "Charmides" ". [REVIEW]Richard Hogan - 1975 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 13 (4):520.
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  5. added 2019-06-07
    Platons Laches Und Charmides: Untersuchungen Zur Elenktisch-Aporetischen Struktur der Platonischen Frühdialoge. [REVIEW]H. J. Easterling - 1968 - The Classical Review 18 (2):236-237.
  6. added 2019-06-07
    Platon, Euthyphron, Laches, Charmides, Lysis. [REVIEW]G. B. Kerferd - 1952 - The Classical Review 2 (3-4):226-227.
  7. added 2019-06-06
    Plato's Charmides: Positive Elenchus in a 'Socratic' Dialogue. By Thomas M. Tuozzo. Pp. Xii, 359, Cambridge University Press, 2011. [REVIEW]Robin Waterfield - 2014 - Heythrop Journal 55 (3):486-487.
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  8. added 2019-06-06
    Plato’s Charmides and the Socratic Ideal of Rationality. [REVIEW]Darrel D. Colson - 2000 - Ancient Philosophy 20 (1):206-210.
  9. added 2019-06-06
    Socrates’ Human Wisdom and Sophrosune in Charmides 164c Ff.Gabriela Roxana Carone - 1998 - Ancient Philosophy 18 (2):267-286.
  10. added 2019-06-06
    12. Dialectic as Counterpoint: On Philosophical Self-Measure in Plato and Hegel.James Crooks - 1997 - In John Russon & Michael Baur (eds.), Hegel and the Tradition: Essays in Honour of H.S. Harris. University of Toronto Press. pp. 264-285.
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  11. added 2019-06-06
    The Relation of Philosophy to Σωφροσύνη: Zalmoxian Medicine in Plato’s Charmides.Francis P. Coolidge - 1993 - Ancient Philosophy 13 (1):23.
  12. added 2019-06-06
    Belief and Knowledge in the Philosophy of Plato. Studies on ‘Charmides’, ‘Menon’ and ‘The Republic’. [REVIEW]Manfred Baum - 1978 - Philosophy and History 11 (1):6-10.
  13. added 2019-06-06
    "Plato: Laches and Charmides," Translated, with an Introduction and Notes by Rosamond Kent Sprague. [REVIEW]Roland J. Teske - 1975 - Modern Schoolman 52 (3):333-333.
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  14. added 2019-06-06
    ΣΩΦΡΟΣΥΝΗ and Selbstbewusstsein.Stanley Rosen - 1973 - Review of Metaphysics 26 (4):617-642.
    THE IMPORTANCE OF GREEK THOUGHT for the Hegelian science of wisdom has long been acknowledged. Nevertheless, if one considers the extraordinary increase in Hegel scholarship during the past two decades, it is somewhat surprising how few technical studies have been devoted to the connection between Hegel and the Greeks. The relative lack of attention to the details of this connection is in my opinion the most important reason for a certain imbalance in favor of Hegel’s religious thought which one may (...)
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  15. added 2019-06-05
    The Implicit Refutation of Critias 1.Tad Brennan - 2012 - Phronesis 57 (3):240-250.
    Abstract At Charmides 163, Critias attempts to extricate himself from refutation by proposing a Prodicean distinction between praxis and poiēsis . I argue that this distinction leads him further into contradictions.
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  16. added 2019-05-25
    Charmides / Plato; Translated, with Introduction, Notes, and Analysis by Christopher Moore and Christopher C. Raymond.Christopher Moore & Christopher C. Raymond - 2019 - Indianapolis, Indiana, USA: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc..
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  17. added 2018-12-15
    Minimal Sartre: Diagonalization and Pure Reflection.John Bova - 2018 - Open Philosophy 1:360-379.
    These remarks take up the reflexive problematics of Being and Nothingness and related texts from a metalogical perspective. A mutually illuminating translation is posited between, on the one hand, Sartre’s theory of pure reflection, the linchpin of the works of Sartre’s early period and the site of their greatest difficulties, and, on the other hand, the quasi-formalism of diagonalization, the engine of the classical theorems of Cantor, Godel, Tarski, Turing, etc. Surprisingly, the dialectic of mathematical logic from its inception through (...)
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  18. added 2018-11-12
    Socrates and the Benefits of Puzzlement.Jan Szaif - 2018 - In George Karamanolis & Vasilis Politis (eds.), The Aporetic Tradition in Ancient Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: pp. 29-47.
    This essay addresses the role of aporetic thinking and aporetic dialogue in the early “Socratic” dialogues of Plato. It aims to provide a new angle on why and how puzzlement induced by Socrates should benefit his interlocutors but often fails to do so. After discussing criteria for what is to count as an aporetic dialogue, the essay explains how and why Socrates’ aporia-inducing conversations point to a conception of virtue as grounded in a form of self-transparent wisdom. In combination with (...)
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  19. added 2018-07-13
    Socrates’ Practice of Elenchus in the Charmides.W. Thomas Schmid - 1981 - Ancient Philosophy 1 (2):141-147.
  20. added 2018-06-09
    The Emergence of Reflexivity in Greek Language and Thought: From Homer to Plato and Beyond.Edward T. Jeremiah - 2012 - Brill.
    This thesis investigates reflexivity in ancient Greek literature and philosophy from Homer to Plato. It contends that ancient Greek culture developed a notion of personhood that was characteristically reflexive, and that this was linked to a linguistic development of specialized reflexive pronouns, which are the words for 'self'.
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  21. added 2018-04-10
    How to Discriminate Between Experts and Frauds: Some Problems for Socratic Peirastic.Jyl Gentzler - 1995 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 12 (3):227 - 246.
  22. added 2018-04-05
    "Introduction" and "Analysis" From His Translation of Plato's "Charmides".Benjamin Jowett - 1891
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  23. added 2018-04-04
    Perceiving That We See and Hear: Aristotle on Plato on Judgement and Reflection.Mary Margaret McCabe - 2015 - In Platonic Conversations.
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  24. added 2018-04-04
    Self-Knowledge and Self-Control in Plato's "Charmides".Aryeh Kosman - 2014 - In Virtues of Thought: Essays on Plato and Aristotle. Harvard University Press. pp. 227-245.
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  25. added 2018-04-04
    Virtues of Thought.Aryeh Kosman - 2014 - Harvard.
  26. added 2018-02-18
    Ebert–Plato - Ebert Theodor: Meinung Und Wissen in der Philosophie Platons. Untersuchungen Zum ‘Charmides’, ‘Menon’ Und ‘Staat’. Pp. X + 234. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1974. Cloth, DM.64. [REVIEW]M. Schofield - 1976 - The Classical Review 26 (02):208-209.
  27. added 2018-02-17
    Le rejet de la connaissance de la connaissance, la these centrale du Charmide de Platon.Oded Balaban - 2008 - Revue Philosophique De Louvain 106 (4):663-693.
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  28. added 2017-09-19
    Plato’s Charmides: Positive Elenchus in a ‘Socratic’ Dialogue, by Thomas Tuozzo. [REVIEW]Benjamin A. Rider - 2013 - Ancient Philosophy 33 (2):425-430.
  29. added 2017-01-28
    Sophrosune, Self, and State.Paul Eisenberg - 1975 - Apeiron 9 (2):31.
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  30. added 2017-01-17
    Sôphrosunê, Socratic Therapy, and Platonic Drama in Plato’s Charmides.Alan Pichanick - 2016 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (1):47-66.
    Plato’s Charmides suggests that there are really four notions that are deeply connected with one another, and in order to understand sôphrosunê we need to get a proper hold on them and their relation: these four notions are Knowledge of Ignorance, Self-Knowledge, Knowledge of the Good, and Knowledge of the Whole. My aim is to explore these four notions in two stages. First, I will try to explain Socrates’s notion of knowledge of ignorance, so that the nature and coherence of (...)
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  31. added 2017-01-15
    On Plato's Charmides 165c 4-175 D5.Chung-Hwan Chen - 1978 - Apeiron 12 (1):13.
  32. added 2017-01-14
    Plato's Charmides. [REVIEW]Donald S. Mackay - 1953 - Journal of Philosophy 50 (6):191-192.
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  33. added 2016-12-12
    Über Relativbegriffe in der Philosophie Platons.Erhard Scheibe - 1967 - Phronesis 12 (1):28-49.
  34. added 2016-12-08
    Plato's Charmides and the Proleptic Reading of Socratic Dialogues.Charles H. Kahn - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (10):541-549.
  35. added 2016-08-04
    The Tyrant's Temperance: Charmides.Eva T. H. Brann - 2004 - In The Music of the Republic: Essays on Socrates' Conversations and Plato's Writings. Paul Dry Books.
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  36. added 2016-03-13
    Milton, Ficino, and the Charmides.John Arthos - 1959 - Studies in the Renaissance 6:261-274.
  37. added 2015-10-21
    Socrates' Odyssean Return: On Plato's Charmides.Ronna Burger - 2013 - In Christopher Dustin & Denise Schaeffer (eds.), Socratic Philosophy and Its Others. Lexington Books. pp. 217-235.
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  38. added 2015-10-21
    Philosophy, Elenchus, and Charmides' Definitions of [Sophrosune].Marina Berzins McCoy - 2005 - Arethusa 38 (2):133-159.
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  39. added 2015-10-21
    Knowledge of Knowledge in Plato's Charmides.Menahem Luz - 2001 - In Konstantine Boudouris (ed.), Greek Philosophy and Epistemology. Ionia Publications. pp. 100-110.
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  40. added 2015-10-20
    Profound Ignorance: Plato's Charmides and the Saving of Wisdom.David Lawrence Levine - 2015 - Lexington Books.
    No topic could be more relevant in these times than tyranny, “the greatest sickness of the soul.” The Charmides of Plato gives us an opportunity to look deeply into the soul or cognitive structure of one of Athens’s most notorious tyrants, Critias, and looks deeply into its dialectical opposite, the soul and cognitive structure of Socrates.
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  41. added 2015-10-20
    Socrates and Self-Knowledge.Christopher Moore - 2015 - Cambridge University Press.
    In this book, the first systematic study of Socrates' reflections on self-knowledge, Christopher Moore examines the ancient precept 'Know yourself' and, drawing on Plato, Aristophanes, Xenophon, and others, reconstructs and reassesses the arguments about self-examination, personal ideals, and moral maturity at the heart of the Socratic project. What has been thought to be a purely epistemological or metaphysical inquiry turns out to be deeply ethical, intellectual, and social. Knowing yourself is more than attending to your beliefs, discerning the structure of (...)
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  42. added 2015-10-20
    Unity and Diversity of the Virtues in the Charmides, Laches, and Protagoras.K. W. Cooley - 1968-9 - Kinesis:100-106.
  43. added 2015-10-20
    ΣΩΦΡΟΣϒΝΗ en grec classique.G. J. de Vries - 1943 - Mnemosyne 11:81-101.
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  44. added 2015-10-11
    Plato and Mass Words.Thomas G. Rosenmeyer - 1957 - Transactions of the American Philological Association:88-102.
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  45. added 2015-09-09
    Hermann Gundert: Dialog und Dialektik: zur Struktur des platonischen Dialogs. Pp. viii+166. Amsterdam: B. R. Grüner, 1971. Cloth, fl.35. [REVIEW]Pamela M. Huby - 1975 - The Classical Review 25 (01):144-.
  46. added 2015-09-09
    Dialog Und Dialektik Zur Struktur des Platonischen Dialogs.H. Gundert - 1971 - B. R. Gruner.
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  47. added 2015-09-09
    Selbsterkenntnis der Sophrosyne. Zu Platons Charmides.H. Herter - 1970 - In Festschift Karl Vretska. pp. 74-88.
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  48. added 2015-09-09
    Vorgestalten der Reflexion.Hans-Georg Gadamer - 1966 - In Subjectivität und Metaphysik: Festschrift für W. Cramer. pp. 128-143.
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  49. added 2015-09-09
    Sokrates Versuch Über den Ursprung der Metaphysik.Helmut Kuhn - 1959 - Kösel-Verlag.
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  50. added 2015-09-09
    Philosophischer Handkommentar Zu Den Dialogen Platos.Hermann Gauss - 1952 - Bern, H. Lang.
    1. T. 1. Häfte, Allgemeine Einleitung in die platonische Philosophie.--1. T., 2. Hälfte. Die Früdialoge -- 2. T., 1. Hälfte. Die Dialogue der Übergangszeit Gorgias, Meno, Euthydem, Menexenus Cratylus -- 2. T., 2. Hälfte. Die Dialogue der literarischen Meisterschaft Phädo, Symposium, Staat und Phädrus --3. T., 1. Hälfte. Die Spätdialoge Theätet, Parmenides, Sophist und Politicus -- 3. T. 2. Hälfte. Die Spätdialoge Philebus, Timäus, Critias und Gesetze .. 4. T. Register.
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1 — 50 / 197