Reason and Dialectic in the Argument against Protagoras in the Theaetetus

International Philosophical Quarterly 45 (1):21-39 (2005)
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Abstract

This paper examines Socrates’ refutation of Protagoras’s view of knowledge in the Theaetetus (151e–186e). I show that the argument against Protagoras is not intended to be a purely abstract one about inconsistent premises. Instead, Socrates’ success in argumentagainst Protagoras depends upon Theaetetus’s character and his beliefs about knowledge and expertise. I also explore how understanding that section of the dialogue in this way better exhibits Socrates’ description of himself as akin to a midwife. Plato affirms a notion of the “rational” as inevitably embedded in the experiences of the particular interlocutors with whom Socrates speaks. The Theaetetus recognizes the existence of a competing intellectual position that from its own standpoint is not fully “captured” by the Socratic position, while still dialectically affi rming the Socratic/philosophical standpoint.

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Marina McCoy
Boston College

Citations of this work

Four Educators in Plato's Theaetetus.Avi I. Mintz - 2011 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 45 (4):657-673.
The Sophists in Plato's Dialogues.David D. Corey - 2015 - Albany: State University of New York Press.

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