Please only use the “play” button toadvance the slide showor you’ll missanimated content & movies
Glossary BCE : “Before Common Era (cf. BC) CE : “Common Era” (cf. AD) c. : circa (Latin) for “around [some date or year]” cf. : “compare” e.g. : exempli gratiā (Latin) for “for example” etc. : et cetera (Latin) for “and so forth” ≈ : “approximate” or “approximately” : “Possible” or “possibility” : “Necessary” or “necessity”
Agenda Plato Background Early Platonic Dialogues & Elenchus Socrates vs. “Socrates” vs. Plato ἔλεγχος (elengkhos, Latinized as elenchus) ἀπορία (aporia) Euthyphro – Divine Command Theory Republic I – Ethical Egoism Cf. Middle & Late Platonic Dialogues & Dialectic Cf. Rep. VII (539a) ≈ first ⅓ Republic II – Social Contract Theory Remainder Republic II-IV; VII-IX – Virtue Ethics
The safest general characterization of the Europeanphilosophical tradition is that it consists of a series offootnotes to Plato– Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (1929) 39
Aristocles“the son of Ariston andPerictione or Petone”.a.k.a. Plato• 428/7-348/7 BCE• Native Athenian; Solona claimed maternalancestor• At least two brothers –Adeimantus andGlaucon – who areSocrates’ maininterlocutors in theRepublic.• Most famous student ofSocrates
Aristocles“the son of Ariston andPerictione or Petone”.a.k.a. Plato• Sister Petone’sson, Speusippus, inherits leadership of Plato’sAcademy• Over another, morefamous student ofPlato’s, Aristotle• His Academy lasteduntil Christian emperorJustinian closed it in529 CE – after almost950 years!
Socrates•c. 469 –399 BCBCE•Notoriouslyunhandsome•Despite contrasting hisphilosophy with meresophistry, oftenassociated with them•No friend of democracy•Primarily interested inmatters ethical•Claimed a daemonguided his actionstoward the right & goodand away from thewrong & bad
Socrates•Delphic Oracleproclaimed that “nonewas wiser” than he•Socrates claimed that thiswas only because “I knowthat I know nothing”•The above – and his beinga gadfly to the powerfulin general – lead to hisbeing put to death byAthens•Left no written work ofhis own (cf. Phaedrus 274ff. esp. 275d) •Known primarily through hisstudents, Xenophon & Plato, andAristophanes’ satire The Clouds
… vs. “Socrates” Relationship between Plato & Socrates is … complex Especially between Plato and his literary characterizationof Socrates In the “early dialogues” “Socrates” is both a moral and philosophical hero –nay saint – who is rarely, if ever, wrong But equally rarely does “Socrates” offers anything likehis own account Instead he typically only gives negative critiques ofother’s substantive positions And, thus, “Socrates” is seen as the gadfly of Athens!
Elenchus (ἔλεγχος) Philosophical methodology Starts by considering something’s essential nature “what is it?” In the Euthyphro, “it” is piety; in the Republic, justice Usually asked of experts Presume SOFA (some one form account) Proceeds by showing that the various answers fail Especially those of the purported experts) And usually fail in some interesting, illustrative way I.e., show what “it” is not Examples of what not to do, of how not to reason/argue
Aporia (ἀπορία) Elentic inquiry ends in anuncomfortable, embarrassing philosophicalpuzzlement and silence Experts shown to be (at least) as ignorant as Socrates Nevertheless, some kind of progress – early dialoguesdo clear away the philosophical underbrush Audience now in a position to do real philosophy!
Plato’s Middle “Socrates” Begins to move beyond elenchus and mere critique Gives positive, substantive philosophical views Often, via the character of “Socrates” Who’s usually still Plato’s mouthpiece But not always! Sometime interesting, substantive points arise fromother characters – sometime even at the expense ofSocrates!
Middle Dialogues So, we must be more sensitive to what is going on How are the characters interacting? Is irony being employed here? Is Plato critiquing himself? His former (early)views? Or even his master’s (i.e. Socrates’) views? Bear in mind for Book I of his Republic! There, I argue that something very interestinghappens between Plato’s “Thrasymachus” and his“Socrates”
Dialectical Method Plato’s Republic moves away from elenchus &towards dialectic And its presentation of positive arguments Republic I is elentic, ending in aporia But, here, aporia not an ending It is the “jumping off point” for the rest of theRepublic Cf. Rep. VII (539a) Explicitly skeptical of elenchus as intellectuallycorruptive to young, untrained mind
Republic’s Dialectic The aporia of Republic I is transformed in ≈ the first⅓ Republic II into a version of the Social ContractTheory And put into a “dialectic” with the Virtue Ethics ofthe remainder of the Republic II-IV; VII-IX
Plato’s Later Works Unfortunately, we will not study any of Plato’s lateworks here Character of Socrates continues to change over time Plato’s coming philosophically into his own. Socrates is now often a minor character Rhetorically no better or worse than any of the othercharacters (even if still revered and honored). No longer Plato’s mouthpiece
Plato’s Later Works Re-evaluation of his own earlier works Sometimes “Socrates” represents Plato’s old view “Have we gone too far in the middle works?” The answer is less than clear Like many middle dialogues, tend to besustained, positive arguments that explore Φ topicsin-depth Less back-and-forth, less considering of differingarguments or positions, cf. Republic and Phaedo E.g. Timaeus: Socrates is mainly the titular character’saudience; the Laws, where Socrates is wholly absent!
Plato, Euthyphro• Pay special attention to 9e-11eRecommended:• Rachels 4.1, 4.2, 4.4(“Enjoy the Silence”, Depeche Mode)