Opening Moves

David Sedley

in The Midwife of Platonism

Published in print May 2004 | ISBN: 9780199267033
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601828 | DOI:
Opening Moves

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Following a survey of established interpretations of the Theaetetus, I sketch my own, incorporating elements of many of them, especially of Myles Burnyeat’s. I argue that for once Socrates is not Plato’s mouthpiece but that rather Plato wants to present the Socrates of the early dialogues as his own midwife. I draw attention to Plato’s unitarian approach to his own work – his constant emphasis on its philosophical continuity. The theme of midwifery, which I argue serves this same end, is then further fleshed out by reference to the opening stages of the dialogue’s argument. Finally, I map out the principles underlying Socrates maieutic art, principles that in the remainder of the book I will argue to underlie certain positive philosophical insights that, despite his self-declared barrenness, he finds himself able to articulate.

Keywords: Burnyeat; dialogues; maieutic; midwife; mouthpiece; Plato; Socrates; Theaetetus; unitarianism

Chapter.  15110 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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