In Haraldsen Vivil Valvik, Olof Pettersson & Tvedt Oda E. Wiese (eds.), Readings of Plato's Apology of Socrates Defending the Philosophical Life. Lexington. pp. 137-154 (2018)

Olof Pettersson
Uppsala University
Plato’s Apology opens with a distinction. By opposing his accusers’ deceitfulness to his own blunt truthfulness, Socrates distinguishes a philosophical manner of speech from its politico-forensic counterpart. This can be said to culminate at 17d3, where Socrates claims to be a stranger (xenos) to the manner of speech—the lexis (17d3)—of the court. He asks to be allowed to talk with his own voice (phônh), in his own way (tropos, cf. 17d5–18a3) and without making fine speeches (“kekalliepêmenous ge logous,” 17b9). In contrast to the accusers’ claim that he is a clever or dangerous speaker (17b1: “deinou ontos legein”) Socrates asks to be excused for talking at random (eikê, 17c2). But wouldn’t this be exactly what a clever speaker should say? The question is as urgent as it is old. In recent research, there are two tendencies. Either Socrates is taken to be just like the clever speakers whose strategies he renounces or he is taken to be honest and truthful. In this paper, I shall call the defenders of these two tendencies Liars and Fanatics, and argue that the Apology’s treatment of the ideals of human discursivity shows that both, to a certain extent, have it right.
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