Murder and Midwifery: Metaphor in the Theaetetus

Philosophy and Literature 42 (1):97-111 (2018)
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Abstract

The Theaetetus's midwifery metaphor is well-known; less discussed is the brief passage accusing Socrates of behaving like Antaeus. Are philosophers midwives or monsters? Socrates accepts both characterizations. This passage and Socrates's acceptance of the metaphor creates a tension in the text, birthing a puzzle about how readers ought to understand the figure of the philosopher. Because metaphors play a pivotal role in the dialogue's ethical project, the puzzle presents not simply a textual tension but a question of how and why to be a philosopher.

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Madeline Martin-Seaver
University of South Florida

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