The Midwife of Platonism: Text and Subtext in Plato's Theaetetus

Oxford University Press (2004)

Abstract

Plato's Theaetetus is an acknowledged masterpiece, and among the most influential texts in the history of epistemology. Since antiquity it has been debated whether this dialogue was written by Plato to support his familiar metaphysical doctrines, or represents a self-distancing from these. David Sedley's book offers a via media, founded on a radical separation of the author, Plato, from his main speaker, Socrates. The dialogue, it is argued, is addressed to readers familiar with Plato's mature doctrines, and sets out to show how these doctrines, far from being an abandonment of his Socratic heritage, are its natural outcome. The Socrates portrayed here is the same Socrates as already portrayed in Plato's early dialogues. While not a Platonist, he is exhibited - to put it in terms of an image made famous by this dialogue - as having been Platonism's midwife. In a comprehensive rereading of the text, Sedley tracks the ways in which Socrates is shown unwittingly preparing the ground for Plato's mature doctrines, and reinterprets the dialogue's individual arguments from this perspective. The book is addressed to all readers interested in Plato, and does not require knowledge of Greek.

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David Sedley
University College London

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Citations of this work

XII—The Distinction in Kind Between Knowledge and Belief.Maria Rosa Antognazza - 2021 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 120 (3):277-308.
Knowledge and True Belief at Theaetetus 201a–C.Tamer Nawar - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (6):1052-1070.
Socratic Methods.Eric Brown - forthcoming - In Nicholas D. Smith, Russell E. Jones & Ravi Sharma (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Socrates, 2nd ed. London, UK:
Plato's Socrates and His Conception of Philosophy.Eric Brown - forthcoming - In David Ebrey & Richard Kraut (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Plato, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 117-145.

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