On the Alleged Historical Reliability of Plato’s Apology

A classic question of Socrates scholarship is whether Plato’s Apology is a reliable source for the philosophy of the historical Socrates. This essay argues that the Apology, like other texts, provides reliable evidence about events in Socrates’ life and general features of his character, but does not give scholars grounds for confidence that we know anything precise about the philosophical views of Socrates. Philosophical views are very sensitive to the precise wording. Through discussion of the Apology's special literary characteristics and circumstances, and a comparison of the Apology to other sources, the paper argues that we have a number of significant reasons to doubt that Plato’s text gives a historically accurate version of Socrates' philosophical views.
Keywords Historical Socrates  Socrates  Plato  Apology  philosophy of Socrates  source criticism
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DOI 10.1515/agph.2000.82.3.235
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