Review of Metaphysics 39 (3):455 - 482 (1986)

William W. Tait
University of Chicago
AT PHAEDO 96A-C Plato portrays Socrates as describing his past study of "the kind of wisdom known as περὶ φυσέως ἱστορία." At 96c-97b, Socrates says that this study led him to realize that he had an inadequate understanding of certain basic concepts which it involved. In consequence, he says at 97b, he abandoned this method and turned to a method of his own. But at this point in the dialogue, instead of proceeding immediately to describe his method, Plato has him interjecting a complaint concerning Anaxagoras and his view that everything should be explained in terms of Mind. His complaint is that Mind would order things in the best possible way and that, therefore, an account of things in terms of Mind would amount to showing that they are ordered in the best possible way. But Anaxagoras did not show this and, instead, offered other kinds of explanations of the various phenomena. Socrates is not just criticizing Anaxagoras here for not doing what he set out to do; he makes it clear, for example at 99b-c, that he believes that the best kind of explanation of the phenomena would be to show that they are ordered in the best possible way. But he was unable to discover an explanation of this kind, either for himself or from others, and so turned to a method which he calls "second best". The actual description of this method is contained in two passages, 99e5-100a7 and 101d5-e1. Between these passages, Socrates invokes the doctrine of Forms and, in particular, the formula.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph19863932
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The Method of Hypothesis in Plato's Philosophy.Malihe Aboie Mehrizi - 2016 - Journal of Philosophical Investigations at University of Tabriz 10 (19):1-21.
Essay Review. [REVIEW][author unknown] - 2008 - History and Philosophy of Logic 29 (2):183-193.

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