The Analogy Between Virtue and Crafts in Plato's Early Dialogues

Dissertation, Mcgill University (Canada) (1990)

This thesis investigates Plato's analogy between virtue and crafts, a comparison made extensively in the early dialogues. I first detail the model of technical knowledge that Plato uses as a paradigm of knowledge. An application of this model shows the inadequacies in some claims to know or to teach virtue. Applying the model to the Socratic dictum, 'Virtue is knowledge' enables us to understand what such knowledge is about. Such knowledge is identified as 'self-knowledge' and is the product of philosophy. Philosophy is thus revealed as the craft of virtue, directed at the good of individuals. One problematic aspect of the analogy between virtue and crafts is the possibility of misuse. Virtue conceived as self-knowledge enables Plato to explain both why such a craft cannot be misused and why it alone can be the basis for benefiting others
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