Conversion or Conversation? a Note on Plato’s Philosophical Methods

Timothy Chappell

in Pursuing the Good

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748628117
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652488 | DOI:
Conversion or Conversation? a Note on Plato’s Philosophical Methods

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Plato scholarship often tends to lead us in the direction of a very general choice about the nature of philosophical inquiry. The choice – which can emerge, for example, from thinking about the contrasts between the Republic and the Euthydemus – is one between two very different conceptions of what should be the product of the best philosophical activity: a choice between conversion and conversation. This chapter argues that the gap between the conversional and conversational models of philosophy is deep, unbridgeable and historically perennial. The conversational and the conversional models of philosophy both have their places; but in Plato's thought, it is the conversional model that goes deeper. Plato recognises and makes room for both models. Moreover, he sees the two models as correctives to each other.

Keywords: Plato scholarship; philosophical inquiry; conversional model; conversational model

Chapter.  3556 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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