This essay intends to discuss what Plato was seeking as an explanation in Phaedo. In this dialogue, we observe Socrates criticizing both the natural scientists’ explanations and Anaxagoras’ theory of Mind because they could not explain all things, firstly, in a unitary and, secondary, in a real way. Thence, we are to call what Plato is seeking as his ideal explanation in Phaedo “One Real Explanation”. He talks at least about three kinds of explanation, two of which, the confused and (...) foolish way of explanation by Forms and the explanation by Forms appealing to essence, are just "second best" and lower degrees of explanation. His ideal explanation is an explanation that can explain all things by one thing and in a real way. Though he cannot show, at least in Phaedo, how this One Real Explanation can work, we can see Plato completing the theory by the Form of the Good in Republic. (shrink)
Investigating Plato’s ontological as well as epistemological status in each of his dialogues, this book is going to challenge the current theories of Plato’s development and suggest a new one. Regarding the relation of Plato’s early and middle period dialogues, scholars have been divided to two opposing groups: unitarists and developmentalists. While developmentalists try to prove that there are some noticeable and even fundamental differences between Plato’s early and middle period dialogues, the unitarists assert that there is no essential difference (...) in there. The main goal of the first two chapters is to suggest that some of Plato’s ontological as well as epistemological principles change, both radically and fundamentally, between the early and middle period dialogues. Though this is a kind of strengthening the developmentalistic approach corresponding the relation of the early and middle period dialogues, based on the fact that what is to be proved here is a essential development in Plato’ ontology and his epistemology, by expanding the grounds of development to the ontological and epistemological principles, it hints to a more profound development. The fact that the bipolar and split knowledge and being of the early period dialogues give way to the tripartite and bound knowledge and benig of the middle period dialogues indicates the development of the notions of being and knowledge in Plato’s philosophy before the dialogues of the middle period. The first chapter entitled “Plato’s Onto-Epistemological Principles in the Early Dialogues” tries to draw out six principles out of Plato’s early dialogues specially Euthyphro, Laches, Charmides, Hippias Major and Euthydemus. We discuss that these principles present kind of a bipolar as well as split ontology and epistemology. The second chapter, “Revision of First Socrates’ Principles in the Middle Period Dialogues”, aims to argue that the onto-epistemological principles of the early dialogues are being radically changed in three dialogues of Meno, Phaedo and Republic in the middle period dialogues. Not only the bipolar ontology and epistemology of the early dialogues give place to a tripartite ontology and epistemology but also their split being and knowledge are inclined to be replaced by bound being and knowledge. Our next step in this book is to suggest a new approach to Plato’s theory of being in Republic V and Sophist based on the notion of difference and the being of a copy. To understand Plato’s ontology in these two dialogues we are going to suggest a theory we call Pollachos Esti; a name we took from Aristotle’s pollachos legetai both to remind the similarities of the two structures and to reach a consistent view of Plato’s ontology. Based on this theory, when Plato says that something both is and is not, he is applying difference on being which is interpreted here as saying, borrowing Aristotle’s terminology, 'is is (esti) in different senses'. I hope this paper can show how Pollachos Esti can bring forth not only a new approach to Plato’s ontology in Sophist and Republic but also a different approach to being in general. Thence, chapter three, “Pollachos Esti; Plato’s Ontology in Sophist and Republic”, intends to discuss that i) the theories of ‘being as difference’ and ‘being of a copy’, considered together in what we call the theory of pollachos esti, can well be compared to the structure of pollachos legetai in Aristotle when it is attached to the theories of pros hen and substance; and ii) the ontology of Republic V-VII is based on this theory and is, thus, almost the same as the ontology of Sophist. Investigating the most famous chronologies of the last 150 years from Campbell on, the fourth chapter, “The Standard Chronology of the Dialogues”, is to argue that all of them have a somewhat fix and dogmatic arrangement of Plato’s dialogues in which Meno, Phaedo and Republic are located after some early dialogues and before Theaetetus and Parmenides, on the one hand, and all the so-called late period dialogues after Theaetetus and Parmenides on the other hand. It is also reminded that all that the stylometric evidences can show is the lateness and homogeneity of the late period dialogues and, thence, nothing about the relation between dialogues like Theaetetus, Parmenides and Republic. The standard chronology is the subject of many criticisms some of which are discussed in our fifth chapter, “Objections against the Standard Chronology”, in three groups. While the first group of objections criticizes the place of the middle period dialogues immediately after the early ones, the second group attacks the place of late dialogues after the middle ones. The third group includes objections against the place of Parmenides in the standard chronology and tries to show that it cannot be considered after the middle period dialogues. The efforts of the first five chapters lead to a new theory of Plato’s ontological as well as epistemological development in an onto-epistemological chronology of his dialogues in our sixth chapter, “An Onto-Epistemological Chronology of Plato’s dialogues”. Instead of three periods, this chronology includes four waves of dialogues, Socratic wave, ontological wave, epistemological wave and political wave, in which all the so-called middle and late period dialogues are to be interpreted based on the problems presented in Parmenides I. The main changes we suggest in the standard chronology include firstly that Theaetetus and Parmenides I must be posited before Meno and Phaedo and, secondly, Republic must be posited after Sophist. Based on this arrangement, we can find Philosophos, Plato’s promised but unwritten dialogue, inside Republic. (shrink)
This paper provides a rigorous defense of innate true belief in the Meno, to my knowledge, the first of its kind. While several commentators have proposed innate true belief in the past, the position has never been defended or explained in detail. Instead, the most thorough discussions of Plato’s innatism have opted for different innate objects. I defend my proposal against these recent alternatives by showing that the passages often thought to imply innate knowledge can be read in other ways. (...) I then argue that they should be so read, because of an “awareness condition” Plato had on knowledge at the time. (shrink)
This paper discusses two broadly logical issues related to Protagoras’ measure doctrine (M) and the self-refutation argument (SRA). First, I argue that the relevant interpretation of (M) has it that every individual human being determines all her own truths, including the truth of (M) itself. I then turn to what I take to be the most important move in the SRA: that Protagoras recognises not only that his opponents disagree with him about the truth of (M), but also that they (...) hold that (M) is false simpliciter. By recognising that his opponents do not make the relativising concession he makes for them, he is forced to accept that (M) is false. I go on to argue that several other defenders of the SRA end up with a regress which is difficult to end and might not favour anti-Protagoreans. On my reading, by recognising what his opponents believe, Protagoras is barred from adding qualifiers, and the possible regress doesn’t get off the ground. I conclude with brief discussions of how Protagoras might try to avoid the result of the SRA and the argument’s role in this part of the Theaetetus. (shrink)
The well-known connection between the extant fragments of Philolaus and Plato’s Philebus is examined in its methodological aspect. By drawing on more texts, it is shown that Plato was aware of an explanatory scheme that can be attributed to Pythagoreanism. His attempt to modify it is also outlined, which sets the historical-philosophical perspective.
This paper deals with the deuteros plous, literally ‘the second voyage’, proverbially ‘the next best way’, discussed in Plato’s Phaedo, the key passage being Phd. 99e4-100a3. I argue that (a) the ‘flight into the logoi’ can have two different interpretations, a standard one and a non-standard one. The issue is whether at 99e-100a Socrates means that both the student of erga and the student of logoi consider images (‘the standard interpretation’), or the student of logoi does not consider images but (...) that “consistency should suffice for truth” (‘the non-standard interpretation’); (b) the non-standard one implies the problem of the hypothesis, a problem analogous to the problem of the elenchus; (c) there is a structural analogy between Descartes’ ontological argument for the existence of God in his 5th Meditation and the final proof for the immortality of the soul in the Phaedo. (shrink)
Through detailed analysis of Plato’s Meno, I identify and set general argumentative rules (useful both to scientists and philosophers) concerning how to use definitions. I show how the character Socrates establishes strong requirements for knowledge in general, i.e., that the knowledge of the definition of a thing must be prior to the knowledge of properties or instances of that thing. Socrate’s requirements and the way he characterizes a definition (as coextensive to the definiendum, not circular, true and explanatorily relevant) lead (...) Meno to aporia and to enunciate the famous Meno’s Paradox concerning the impossibility of inquiry for knowledge. That only occurs because Meno is unable to identify Socrate’s dialectical move: strong requirements for knowing a definition, the priority of the knowledge of the definition and the taking of all knowledge to be like the knowledge by acquaintance. After the paradox, Socrate’s proceeds the discussion using hypotheses to map the truth conditions of some theses Meno is inquiring about. I explain what are Meno’s paradox, the socratic definition and the Method of Hypotheses, in a way só as to find in this classical text in the history of philosophy general principles of argumentation that are still usefull today. (shrink)
This paper is a test case for the claim, made famous by Myles Burnyeat, that the ancient Greeks did not recognize subjective truth or knowledge. After a brief discussion of the issue in Sextus Empiricus, I then turn to Plato's discussion of Protagorean views in the Theaetetus. In at least two passages, it seems that Plato attributes to Protagoras the view that our subjective experiences constitute truth and knowledge, without reference to any outside world of objects. I argue that these (...) passages have been misunderstood and that on the correct reading, they do not say anything about subjective knowledge. I then try out what I take to be the correct reading of the passages. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the importance of causes in Greek epistemology. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore two possible readings of Republic IV, 439c2-d8, and of Plato’s claim that the just soul is governed by its rational element. My aim is to argue against a “desiderative” interpretation of the passage, according to which the motivational strength of rational desires depends on a set of desires given in advance and produced independently of reason. As an alternative, I advance a “cognitivist” reading according to which the rational desires of the just soul have as (...) its ultimate source a knowledge about the nature of goodness and happiness, with its own motivational force. Finally, I argue for a reinterpretation of 439a4-b1, a passage that, at first sight, seems to contradict my analysis of 439c2-d8. (shrink)
Catherine Rowett presents an in depth study of Plato's Meno, Republic and Theaetetus and offers both a coherent argument that the project in which Plato was engaging has been widely misunderstood and misrepresented, and detailed new readings of particular thorny issues in the interpretation of these classic texts.
In Metaphysics Γ 4-6 Aristotle argues that Protagoras is committed not just to denying the PNC, but also to asserting its contrary. In this paper, I offer an analysis of this commitment. I try to show that Aristotle is working with a specific idea in mind: a Protagoreanism ontologically linked to the flux doctrine, as Plato suggested in Theaetetus 152-160.
This chapter examines a common objection to the philosophy of religion, namely, that it has not sufficiently embraced the injunction of Socrates to follow the argument where it leads. Although a general version of this charge is unfair, one emerging view in the field, which I call religious Mooreanism, nonetheless risks running contrary to the Socratic injunction. According to this view, many people can quickly, easily, and reasonably deflect all known philosophical challenges to their core religious outlooks, including arguments from (...) evil. This chapter argues that, in addition to being in tension with the Socratic injunction, religious Mooreanism is less plausible than traditional Mooreanism and in any case has not been adequately defended. (shrink)
Abstract: In this paper I claim that Plato’s Cave is fundamentally a political, not an epistemological image, and that only by treating it as such can we appreciate correctly its relation to the images of the Sun and the Line. On the basis of textual evidence, I question the two main assumptions that support (in my view, mistakenly) the effort to find an epistemological parallel between the Cave and the Line: first, that the prisoners represent humankind in general, and, second, (...) that the cave itself represents the visible world of ordinary experience while the world outside the cave represents the realm of the Forms. Disrupting these assumptions opens up a reading that highlights the cultural and political themes at play in this famous allegory and allows us to make better sense of it. -/- Keywords: Plato, Cave, Politics, Culture -/- Resumen: En este ensayo sostengo que la Caverna de Platón es fundamentalmente una alegoría política, no epistemológica, y que solo tratándola como tal, podremos apreciar correctamente la relación que guarda con las imágenes del Sol y de la Línea. Sobre la base de evidencia textual, pongo en duda las dos hipótesis principales sobres las que se funda (a mi parecer, equivocadamente) el esfuerzo por encontrar un paralelo epistemológico entre la Caverna y la Línea: la primera, que los prisioneros representan a la humanidad en general, y la segunda, que la propia caverna representa el mundo visible de la experiencia corriente, mientras que el mundo fuera de la caverna representa el reino de las Ideas. La suspensión de estos supuestos posibilita una lectura que pone de relieve los temas culturales y políticos que están en juego en esta famosa alegoría y nos permite así entenderla mejor. -/- Palabras Clave: Platón, Caverna, Política, Cultura . (shrink)
There seems to be tension between portrayals of Socrates as both a committed philosopher and a pious man. For instance, one might doubt Socrates’ commitment to philosophy since he seems to irrationally defer to a daimonion. On the other hand, the fact that he challenges messages from Oracles and the gods’ role concerning the origin of the pious draws into question Socrates’ piety. In this paper, I argue that Socratic piety and rationality are not only compatible, but they are also (...) symbiotic. Socrates could not be rational without being pious, nor could he be pious without being rational because, for him, care and curiosity are intimately intertwined. In this regard, Socrates’ epistemology, when applied, resembles Karl Popper’s falsificationism. For Socrates, maintaining human wisdom amounts to regular purification of one’s belief-system. In addition, this maintenance is functionally identical to caring for one’s soul, which is morally imperative. (shrink)
In Plato’s Laws, the Athenian Stranger maintains that law should consist of both persuasion (πειθώ) and compulsion (βία) (IV.711c, IV.718b-d, and IV.722b). Persuasion can be achieved by prefacing the laws with preludes (προοίμια), which make the citizens more eager to obey the laws. Although scholars disagree on how to interpret the preludes’ persuasion, they agree that the preludes instill true beliefs and give citizens good reasons for obeying the laws. In this paper I refine this account of the preludes by (...) arguing that the primary purpose of the preludes is to motivate correct action, and that for citizens who lack rational-governance this is achieved via useful false beliefs. That is to say, in many cases, the prelude functions as a “noble lie” (γενναῖον ψεῦδος). (shrink)
Interpreters of Theaetetus are prone to endorse the view that a god gave Socrates maieutic skill. This paper challenges that view. It provides a different account of the skill’s origins, and reconstructs a genealogy of Socratic philosophy that begins and has its end in human experience. Three distinct origins coordinate to bring forth a radically new conception of philosophy in the image of female midwifery: the state of wonder (1. efficient origin), the exercise of producing, examining and disavowing beliefs in (...) the gradual cultivation of human nature’s lack of skill (2. material origin), and Socrates’ understanding of god’s assistance as an endorsement of his mental infertility and the benefit of a particular form of dialectical training (3. formal origin). The paper concludes by arguing that Socrates transforms philosophy into a pursuit of wisdom that has its telos in becoming like a woman. (shrink)
در اين جستار بر آنيم اصول وجود شناختي و معرفت شناختي افلاطون در محاورات اوليه و علي الخصوص لاخس، خارميدس، اوثيفرون، اوتيدموس و هيپياس بزرگ را بر مبناي سه عنصر آنچه «دور سقراطي» مي ناميم يعني پرسش سقراطي، ادعاي سقراطي انكار دانش و النخوس مورد بررسي قرار دهيم. حاصل اين بررسي شش اصل وجود - معرفت شناختي است: شناخت الف، معرفتشناسي دوقطبي، وجودشناسي دوقطبي، معرفت گسسته، وجود گسسته و معرفت وجود. اگرچه اين اصول عمدتاً جديد نبوده و پيشتر مورد بحث (...) محققان قرار گرفتهاند، آنچه مورد نظر اين جستار است در نظر گرفتن آين اصول در كنار يكديگر و تاكيد بر هماهنگي و مطلق بودن آنهاست. تناسب و هماهنگي ميان اصول معرفت شناختي و اصول وجودشناختي و همساني آنها در برخي ويژگي ها همچون مطلق بودن و گسستگي علاوه بر آنكه نشان دهنده سازگاري نظري محاورات اوليه است، مي تواند تاييدي بر نتايج اين تحقيق باشد. (shrink)
در اين جستار برآنيم كه ترتيبي جديد از محاورات افلاطون ارائه نمائيم؛ ترتيبي كه بر مبناي توسعه وجودشناختي و معرفت شناختي افلاطون مبتني است و تفاوتهاي اساسي با كرونولوژي غالب امروزي محاورات دارد. در حاليكه در همه كرونولوژي هاي پذيرفته شده فعلي، پارمنيدس به عنوان نقد نظريه مثال در محاورات مياني و بنابراين متأخر از اين محاورات در نظر گرفته ميشود، كرونولوژي پيشنهادي ما پارمنيدس را پس از محاورات اوليه و پيش از محاورات مياني قرار ميدهد. بر اساس اين تغيير (...) نه تنها منون، فايدون، فايدروس و جمهوري پس از پارمنيدس قرار ميگيرند، بلكه ميان ثئايتتوس و سوفيست از يك طرف و فايدون و جمهوري از طرف ديگر، فاصله زيادي ايجاد ميشود به طوري كه منون و فايدون ميان جفت اول و سوفيست و تيمايوس ميان جفت دوم قرار ميگيرند. در اين جستار نشان خواهيم داد كه چگونه اين تغييرات ميتوانند به خوانشي سازگارتر از محاورات مياني و متأخر كمك كنند و در عين حال از بسياري مشكلات ناشي از كرونولوژيهاي ديگر بپرهيزند. (shrink)
Reading the Timaeus as an early attempt at mathematizing natural science runs into serious difficulties. The so-called Platonic Solids are five in number, one more than the traditional 'elements'. Plato provides a proportional ratio for these elements but this ratio fails to tie in with their geometrical features. Appealing to the authority of mathematics appears to be a rhetorical move with no further consequences.
It is argued that the analysis by which the gene are differentiated in the dialogue is an exercise in studied ambiguities informed by an Eleatic logic of strict dichotomy that was the underpinning of the Sophist's method of division. By this dialectical drill, Plato shows that the metaphysics underlying the Visitor's method fails to adequately distinguish what it means to have a character from what it means to be a character, and therefore remains inadequate to track down the sophist or (...) to distinguish him from the philosopher: Eleaticism, as critically examined by Plato, proves to be means to disguise, not to discover the sophist. (shrink)
This work articulates two thesis: one Socratic and one Platonic; and displays how the first one is heir of the second. The Socratic one is called the principle of priority of definition; the Platonic one is the Recollection theory. The articulation between both theses is possible due to the Meno’s paradox, which makes a criticism on the first thesis, but it is solved with the second one. The consequence of this articulation is a new interpretation of the Recollection theory, as (...) a theory of knowledge acquisition that depends, mainly, on a distinction between knowledge and true opinion. To conclude, a new interpretation of the knowledge/true opinion distinction is displayed –not in the traditional fashion, evaluating the propositions one by one, and in an atomic way–, but as big blocks or chains of propositions shaping knowledge through explanatory reasoning (aitías logismós). (shrink)
The paper argues that everyday ethical expertise requires an openness to an experience of self-doubt very different from that involved in becoming expert in other skills—namely, an experience of profound vulnerability to the Other similar to that which Emmanuel Levinas has described. Since the experience bears a striking resemblance to that of undergoing cross-examination by Socrates as depicted in Plato’s early dialogues, I illustrate it through a close reading of the Euthyphro, arguing that Euthyphro’s vaunted “expertise” conceals a reluctance to (...) submit himself to the basic process of self-redefinition that results from learning the limits of one’s knowledge. I show how the dialogue itself models the disruptive experience of selfquestioning that leads to moral maturity, providing further evidence that expertise has an important non-cognitive element, as well as casting doubt on the ethical value of seeking “definitions” of the virtues. (shrink)
A claim for minimalism about ‘real’ on the model of minimalism about ‘true’. The article, in effect, develops J.L. Austin’s remark that with ‘real’, the negative ‘wears the trousers’. The development is then exploited for a proposed elucidation of Plato’s discussion of the fields of knowledge and belief in his Republic. It is proposed that Plato was striving for something whose futility was a leading theme of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy.
The character Protagoras in Plato's Protagoras holds similar views to the one in the Theaetetus, and faces similar problems. The dialogue considers issues in epistemology and moral epistemology, as a central theme. The Protagorean position is immune from Socrates' attacks, and Socrates needs Protagorean methods to make any impact.
In this contribution, I explore the treatment that Plato devotes to Protagoras’ relativism in the first section of the Theaetetus (151 E 1–186 E 12) where, among other things, the definition that knowledge is perception is put under scrutiny. What I aim to do is to understand the subtlety of Plato’s argument about Protagorean relativism and, at the same time, to assess its philosophical significance by revealing the inextric¬ability of ontological and epistemological aspects on which it is built (for this (...) latter aspect, I refer to contemporary discussions of relativism, mainly to Margolis’ robust relativism). I then turn to Aristotle’s treatment of Protagoras’ relativism in Metaphysics Γ, sections 5 and 6, in order to show that Plato and Aristotle surprisingly share the same view as regards the philosophical content of Protagoras’ relativism (in doing so, I take position against the standard opinion among scholars that Plato and Aristotle understand Protagoras’ relativism in different, even incompatible, ways). What I ultimately aim to demonstrate is that Protagoras’ relativism, as understood by both Plato and Aristotle, is a coherent, even attractive, philosophical position. (shrink)
This volume deals with the appropriations, criticism and transformation of Plato’s and Aristotle’s positions about theory, practice and the contemplative life, including their epistemological and metaphysical foundations, from ...
I argue against a formidable interpretation of Plato’s Divided Line image according to which dianoetic correctly applies the same method as dialectic. The difference between the dianoetic and dialectic sections of the Line is not methodological, but ontological. I maintain that while this interpretation correctly identifies the mathematical method with dialectic, ( i.e. , the method of philosophy), it incorrectly identifies the mathematical method with dianoetic. Rather, Plato takes dianoetic to be a misapplication of the mathematical method by a subset (...) of practicing mathematicians. Thus, Plato’s critique of dianoetic is a not a critique of mathematics, as such, but of mathematicians. (shrink)
The second highest level of the divided line in Plato’s Republic (510b-511a) appears to be about the entities of mathematics—entities such as particular (though non-physical) triangles. It differs from the highest level in two respects. It involves reasoning from hypotheses, and it uses visible images. This article defends the traditional view that the passage is indeed about these mathematical ‘intermediates’; and tries to show how the apparently different features of the second level are related, by focussing on Plato’s need to (...) give an account of how we can speak of many particulars of the same kind, without assuming that they are imperfect copies, in the way sensible things can be imperfect copies, of forms. (shrink)
Peter Warnek: Descent of socrates: Self-knowledge & cryptic nature in the platonic dialogues Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s11007-012-9214-0 Authors Christopher P. Long, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA Journal Continental Philosophy Review Online ISSN 1573-1103 Print ISSN 1387-2842.
For Plato, the crucial function of human cognition is to grasp truths. Explaining how we are able to do this is fundamental to understanding our cognitive powers. Plato addresses this topic from several different angles. In the Cratylus and Theaetetus, he attempts to identify the elemental cognitions that are the foundations of language and knowledge. He considers several candidates for this role, most notably, perception and simple meaning-bearing concepts. In the first section, we will look at Plato’s worries about semantic (...) instability and its epistemic consequences. The central role of basic cognitions in Plato’s account of knowledge in the Theaetetus will be explored in the second section. In the final section, the relevance of Plato’s conception of cognition to modern discussions in the philosophy of language and epistemology will be noted. (shrink)
In this essay I trace the terms empeiria and tribē throughout the Platonic corpus in order to expose their central position within Plato’s critique of the sophists and rhetoricians. I find that these two terms—both of which indicate a knack or habitude that has been developed through experiential familiarity with certain causal tendencies—are regularly deployed in order to account for the effectiveness of these speakers even in the absence of a technē; for, what Plato identifies with these terms is the (...) sophists’ and rhetoricians’ near masterful familiarity with and ability to manipulate the doxa and the dogma of the many, hoi poloi. (shrink)
I present two of Jacob Klein’s chief discoveries from a perspective of peculiar fascination to me: the enchanting (to me) contemporaneous significance, the astounding prescience, and hence longevity, of his insights. The first insight takes off from an understanding of the lowest segment of the so-called DividedLine in Plato’s Republic. In this lowest segment are located the deficient beings called reflections, shadows, and images, and a type of apprehension associatedwith them called by Klein “image-recognition” (εἰκασία). The second discovery involves a (...) great complex of notions from which I will extract one main element:the analysis of what it means to be a number and what makes possible this kind of being, and, it turns out, all Being. (shrink)
Plato's Timaeus is one of the most influential and challenging works of ancient philosophy to have come down to us. Sarah Broadie's rich and compelling study proposes new interpretations of major elements of the Timaeus, including the separate Demiurge, the cosmic 'beginning', the 'second mixing', the Receptacle and the Atlantis story. Broadie shows how Plato deploys the mythic themes of the Timaeus to convey fundamental philosophical insights and examines the profoundly differing methods of interpretation which have been brought to bear (...) on the work. Her book is for everyone interested in Ancient Greek philosophy, cosmology and mythology, whether classicists, philosophers, historians of ideas or historians of science. It offers new findings to scholars familiar with the material, but it is also a clear and reliable resource for anyone coming to it for the first time. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against the claim that in Plato's Republic the most important distinguishing feature between the philosopher and non-philosopher is that the philosopher has knowledge while the non-philosopher has, at best, true opinion. This claim is, in fact, inconsistent with statements Plato makes in later books of the Republic. I submit that the important distinction Plato makes concerns the type of knowledge possessed by the philosopher-ruler. As a result, we need to amend widely held scholarly interpretations of (...) important passages in the Republic ; most notably the passages containing the Sun, Line, and Cave. I consider the views of a number of important scholars and suggest a proposal that avoids this inconsistency with the text. An important consequence of my argument is that Philosophers are indeed not the only ones with knowledge in the Kallipolis. (shrink)
Scholars who have taken interest in Theaetetus' educational theme argue that Plato contrasts an inferior, even dangerous, sophistic education to a superior, philosophical, Socratic education. I explore the contrasting exhortations, methods, ideals and epistemological foundations of Socratic and Protagorean education and suggest that Socrates' treatment of Protagoras as educator is far less dismissive than others claim. Indeed, Plato, in Theaetetus, offers a qualified defence of both Socrates and Protagoras. Socrates and Protagoras each dwell in the middle ground between the extremes (...) presented in the dialogue's digression, which contrasts the life of the philosopher and the life of the courtroom orator. Both Socrates and Protagoras demonstrate a serious engagement with both politics and philosophy. Theodorus presents an educational option in which theory is divorced from politics while an ignoble sophistic education is presented as political but divorced from theory. Protagorean education, in Theaetetus, emerges as superior to a base sophistic education, though it remains inferior to Socratic education. (shrink)
I argue that Plato’s use of thought experiments anticipate many of the themes discussed by Thomas S. Kuhn’s classic essay, “A Function for Thought Experiments.” Kuhn’s concern is that thought experiments satisfy the condition of verisimilitude. That is, thought experiments must not be conducted merely to alter the conceptual apparatus of the scientist regarding the phenomenon explored, but rather to alter the scientist’s conceptual apparatus for the sake of altering his actions (i.e., practical rationality). Plato, too, is quite concerned with (...) getting interlocutors to appreciate that theory not be separated from practice, and that theory is necessary for the process of effective decision making. Each of the interlocutors presented in the Republic, Apology and Alcibiades Minor are confrontedwith a thought experiment that is designed to effect how they choose to live. Although the three dialogues I discuss illustrate the Kuhnian admonishment against separating theory form practice, many other dialogues in the Platonic corpus echo Kuhn’s concerns. (shrink)