Rather, it seeks to interpret the aim of Plato's writings as being influenced primarily by Plato's respect for his teacher, Socrates, and the manner in which Socrates engaged others in philosophical discourse. It places the focus of philosophical investigation of Plato's dialogues on the content of the dialogues themselves, and on the Socratic way of doing philosophy. This book contains a comprehensive bibliography of philosophical sources on the interpretation of Plato's corpus of writings, as well as some important works in the field of classical studies and philology. Interpreting Plato's Dialogues provides both an analytical, scholarly, and thorough treatment of what is perhaps the most long-standing problem in Plato studies.
The book will serve well as a companion text to Plato's dialogues and is of special interest to philosophers, classicists, and philologists. He has published four books and dozens of articles in academic journals, law reviews, and scholarly anthologies.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review
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Interpreting Plato's Dialogues. Description of this Book Interpreting Plato's Dialogues introduces readers to some key problems in understanding Plato's writings, and explores in-depth and critically the various ways of approaching Plato. Not only does Angelo Corlett offer the reader careful analyses of the major competing approaches to Plato, explaining in what way each is attractive and in what each is flawed, he develops his own novel and insightful view of how we ought to read Plato.
This penetrating discussion of what Plato took himself to be doing puts the entire platonic corpus in a new light. Thomas C. Author's Bio J. This preview is indicative only. The content shown may differ from the edition of this book sold on Wheelers.
My Account Sign in Register. Such episodes are intended to disabuse the naive, immature, or complacent reader of the comfortable conviction that he—or some authority figure in his community—already understands the deep issues in question and to convince him of the need for philosophical reflection on these matters. Each of the other works in this group represents a particular Socratic encounter. In the Charmides , Socrates discusses temperance and self-knowledge with Critias and Charmides; at the fictional early date of the dialogue , Charmides is still a promising youth.
The Cratylus which some do not place in this group of works discusses the question of whether names are correct by virtue of convention or nature. The Crito shows Socrates in prison, discussing why he chooses not to escape before the death sentence is carried out.
The dialogue considers the source and nature of political obligation. The Euthydemus shows Socrates among the eristics those who engage in showy logical disputation. Socrates and Euthyphro agree that what they seek is a single form, present in all things that are pious, that makes them so. Socrates suggests that if Euthyphro could specify what part of justice piety is, he would have an account. The more elaborate Gorgias considers, while its Sophist namesake is at Athens, whether orators command a genuine art or merely have a knack of flattery.
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Socrates holds that the arts of the legislator and the judge address the health of the soul, which orators counterfeit by taking the pleasant instead of the good as their standard. Discussion of whether one should envy the man who can bring about any result he likes leads to a Socratic paradox: it is better to suffer wrong than to do it. In the Hippias Minor , discussion of Homer by a visiting Sophist leads to an examination by Socrates, which the Sophist fails, on such questions as whether a just person who does wrong on purpose is better than other wrongdoers.
The Ion considers professional reciters of poetry and develops the suggestion that neither such performers nor poets have any knowledge. The interlocutors in the Laches are generals. One of them, the historical Laches, displayed less courage in the retreat from Delium during the Peloponnesian War than the humble foot soldier Socrates.
Likewise, after the fictional date of the dialogue, another of the generals, Nicias, was responsible for the disastrous defeat of the Sicilian expedition because of his dependence on seers. Here the observation that the sons of great men often do not turn out well leads to an examination of what courage is. The Lysis is an examination of the nature of friendship; the work introduces the notion of a primary object of love, for whose sake one loves other things.
The Menexenus purports to be a funeral oration that Socrates learned from Aspasia , the mistress of Pericles himself celebrated for the funeral oration assigned to him by Thucydides , one of the most famous set pieces of Greek antiquity. This work may be a satire on the patriotic distortion of history. The Meno takes up the familiar question of whether virtue can be taught, and, if so, why eminent men have not been able to bring up their sons to be virtuous.
This is answered by the recollection theory of learning.
This theory will reappear in the Phaedo and in the Phaedrus. The dialogue is also famous as an early discussion of the distinction between knowledge and true belief. The Protagoras , another discussion with a visiting Sophist , concerns whether virtue can be taught and whether the different virtues are really one. The dialogue contains yet another discussion of the phenomenon that the sons of the great are often undistinguished.
This elaborate work showcases the competing approaches of the Sophists speechmaking, word analysis, discussion of great poetry and Socrates. Under the guise of an interpretation of a poem of Simonides of Ceos c. Most famously, this dialogue develops the characteristic Socratic suggestion that virtue is identical with wisdom and discusses the Socratic position that akrasia moral weakness is impossible.
Typically much longer than the Socratic dialogues, these works contain sensitive portrayals of characters and their interactions, dazzling displays of rhetoric and attendant suggestions about its limitations, and striking and memorable tropes and myths , all designed to set off their leisurely explorations of philosophy. In the middle dialogues, the character Socrates gives positive accounts, thought to originate with Plato himself, of the sorts of human issues that interlocutors in the earlier works had failed to grasp: the nature of Justice and the other virtues, Platonic love , and the soul psyche.
The works typically suggest that the desired understanding, to be properly grounded, requires more-fundamental inquiries, and so Socrates includes in his presentation a sketch of the forms. Even the middle works, however, do not fully specify how the forms are to be understood see above The theory of forms.
At the party depicted in the Symposium , each of the guests including the poets Aristophanes and Agathon gives an encomium in praise of love. Socrates recalls the teaching of Diotima a fictional prophetess , according to whom all mortal creatures have an impulse to achieve immortality. This leads to biological offspring with ordinary partners, but Diotima considers such offspring as poetry, scientific discoveries, and philosophy to be better.