Socratic Methods

James Doyle

in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644384
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191743344 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy

Socratic Methods

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It is generally supposed that what Socrates in Plato's Apology describes himself as having spent his life doing in obedience to a divine command (activity A), what Socrates has urged others to do (activity B), and what Plato depicts Socrates as doing in other ‘Socratic’ dialogues (activity C), are all one and the same activity. This chapter argues that the identification is ambiguous and either false or misleading and, either way, cannot be presupposed, as it standardly is presupposed, in the interpretation of the dialogues. Socrates implicitly distinguishes two modes of philosophical activity in the Apology, which is called missionary and lay philosophy; conflating these makes nonsense of Socrates' defence. Activity A is missionary philosophy. Activity B and (insofar as the Gorgias is representative of ‘Socratic’ dialogues) activity C, are both lay philosophy.

Keywords: apology; eudaimonism; example; Gorgias; McPherran; philosophizing; Plato; Socrates

Chapter.  16526 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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