Early Socratic Dialogues (Penguin Classics)
Plato, Trevor J. Saunders
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Rich in drama and humour, the Early Socratic Dialogues include the controversial Ion, a debate on poetic inspiration; Laches, in which Socrates seeks to define bravery; and Euthydemus, which considers the relationship between philosophy and politics. Together, these dialogues provide a definitive portrait of the real Socrates and raise issues still keenly debated by philosophers, forming an incisive overview of Plato's philosophy.
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261–9). One is reminded of Plato’s description of Isocrates at Phaedrus 279a: ‘He is naturally of a philosophical bent, to a degree.’ Two points might seem to argue against identifying the unnamed critic with Isocrates. First, at 304e, Plato claims to be all but quoting him, but the exact words Plato uses are not to be found in the extant works of Isocrates. Yet neither are they to be found in anybody else’s works, and the words in question are certainly in the Isocratean rhetorical manner.
‘happiness’ for the ‘success’ of the original proposition (278e); see p. 329 n. 5. 2. The same Greek word (sophia) means both ‘wisdom’ and ‘skill’, so it is not surprising that both Socrates and Cleinias think that it is teachable. Perhaps Socrates says that a long inquiry would be needed because he has been assuming that wisdom is virtue, a topic which calls for the lengthy dialogue Protagoras. 1. As opposed, ironically, to the instant enlightenment offered by the sophists. 2. See 275a.
the watchwords of the Apolline religion. Indeed it was from the temple of Apollo at Delphi that Chaerephon, a friend of Socrates who appears briefly at the beginning of this dialogue, had received the famous message that Socrates was the wisest of men, a message which Socrates interpreted as meaning ‘the wisest of men in that he knew that he did not know’.3 The introduction of these religious and intellectual factors by Socrates leads to the longest and most significant section of the discussion,
got to consider is not who said it, but whether or not the statement is true.’ ‘You’re quite right,’ he said. ‘Of course,’ I said. ‘All the same, I should be surprised if we actually will discover what exactly its status is. It appears to have a sort of cryptic meaning.’ ‘How is that?’ he asked. ‘Because presumably,’ I replied, ‘he did not really mean quite what his [d] words conveyed when he said that self-control was doing one’s own job. Or do you believe that the writing-master does not do
what is responsible for things being fine. Thus he may be said to be attempting a definition. But soon he is talking as if the question had been ‘What is fine?’, because he has to admit that gold cannot be responsible for all fine things being fine. The second point Socrates presses is that gold and so on are only responsible for fineness when appropriate: when inappropriate they are contemptible, so they do not satisfy the criterion of never being not-F. Notice the introduction of