Plato's Ways of Writing

Mary Margaret McCabe

in The Oxford Handbook of Plato

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780195182903
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Plato's Ways of Writing


This article deals with Plato's ways of writing. Plato's writing scintillates, most of them, if not all. However, this depends on whether we take the letters to be genuine—of what comes down to us from Plato's hand is in the dialogue form, somehow or other. But should we speak of “the” Platonic dialogue form? After all, the dialogues come in all sorts of different forms: some are dramatic, others merely formalized discussion; some are in direct speech, others narrated (compare the Gorgias and the Symposium); some seem to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, whereas others begin, or end, in the middle of things. In almost all the dialogues, people talk about big abstract questions: the nature of reality, truth, virtue and knowledge. These conversations come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they are often conducted by question and answer, by one-person asking questions to one another.

Keywords: writing; dialogues; dramatic; direct speech; truth; virtue; knowledge

Article.  13117 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy

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