ABSTRACT At the centre of Plato’s Euthydemus lie a series of arguments in which Socrates’ interlocutors, the sophists Euthydemus and Dionysodorus propose a radical account of truth according to which there is no such thing as falsehood, and no such thing as disagreement. This account of truth is not directly refutable; but in response Socrates offers a revised account of ‘saying’ focussed on the different aspects of the verb to give a rich account of saying, of truth and of knowledge. (...) I argue that Socrates’ response has much to offer, notably in its amplification of the process of saying and cognition, and the development of virtue. (shrink)
How does Plato view his philosophical antecedents? Plato and his Predecessors considers how Plato represents his philosophical predecessors in a late quartet of dialogues: the Theaetetus, the Sophist, the Politicus and the Philebus. Why is it that the sophist Protagoras, or the monist Parmenides, or the advocate of flux, Heraclitus, are so important in these dialogues? And why are they represented as such shadowy figures, barely present at their own refutations? The explanation, the author argues, is a complex one involving (...) both the reflective relation between Plato's dramatic technique and his philosophical purposes, and the very nature of his late philosophical views. For in these encounters with his predecessors we see Plato develop a new account of the principles of reason, against those who would deny them, and forge a fresh view of the best life - the life of the philosopher. (shrink)
M. M. McCabe presents a selection of her essays which explore the Platonic method of conversation: how it may inform our understanding both of Plato and of his predecessors and successors, and how its centrality accounts for the connections between argument, knowledge, and virtue in the texts McCabe examines.
Plato's Individuals is rich and rewarding. McCabe's reading will compel us to examine anew the presuppositions we bring to the enterprise of understanding Plato. Her devotion to showing that her thesis is found almost everywhere in the corpus is noteworthy. At times she also seems to strain to assimilate modern and Platonic concerns. If one can accept that Plato's tripartite soul goes over into something we might recognize as the problem of personal identity, it can only be because we are (...) writing off his devotion to reincarnation and transmigration. It is, however, McCabe's novel and energetic defense of individuation that deserves closest scrutiny. Here charges of anachronism and projection will be heard. (shrink)
Why did Plato put his philosophical arguments into dialogues, rather than presenting them in a plain and readily understandable fashion? A group of distinguished scholars here offer answers to this question by studying the relation between form and argument in his late dialogues. These penetrating studies show that the literary structure of the dialogues is of vital importance in the ongoing interpretation of Plato.
The complex way Meno's paradox is presented in the Meno forces reflection on both the external conditions on inquiry—its objects—and its internal conditions—the state of mind of the person who inquires. The theory of recollection does not fully account for the internal conditions—as Plato makes clear in the critique of Meno's puzzle to be found in the Euthydemus. I conclude that in the Euthydemus Plato is inviting us to reject the externalist account of knowledge urged on Socrates by the sophists (...) in favour of a more richly internalist epistemology. (shrink)
Plato gives us two model philosophical figures, apparently in contrast with each other—one is the otherworldly philosopher who sees truth and reality outside the cave and has the knowledge to rule authoritatively within it; the other is the demotic figure of Socrates, who insists that he does not know but only asks questions. I consider Plato’s contrasting idioms of seeing and asking or talking, and argue that the rich account of perception that is represented in the Republic requires both idioms, (...) and both models, to explain the development of epistemic virtue. Furthermore, the conditions he places on the giving and taking of reasons show how Plato takes intellectual virtue to be inseparable from moral virtue. That integrated picture of virtue may—however disposed we may be towards the role of virtue in either ethics or epistemology—have something to say to us about how philosophy might best be carried on. (shrink)