Studies of Plato’s metaphysics have tended to emphasise either the radical change between the early Theory of Forms and the late doctrines of the Timaeus and the Sophist, or to insist on a unity of approach that is unchanged throughout Plato’s career. The author lays out an alternative approach. Focussing on two metaphysical doctrines of central importance to Plato’s thought – the Theory of Forms and the doctrine of Being and Becoming – he suggests a continuous progress can be traced (...) through Plato’s works. He presents his argument through an examination of the metaphysical sections of six of the dialogues: the Euthyphro, Phaedo, Republic, Parmenides, Timaeus, and Sophist. (shrink)
Originally published in 1991, this book focuses on the concept of virtue, and in particular on the virtue of wisdom or knowledge, as it is found in the epic poems of Homer, some tragedies of Sophocles, selected writings of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. The key questions discussed are the nature of the virtues, their relation to each other, and the relation between the virtues and happiness or well-being. This book provides the background and interpretative framework to (...) make classical works on Ethics, such as Plato’s _Republic_ and Aristotle’s _Nicomachean Ethics_, accessible to readers with no training in the classics. (shrink)
Since Peter Geach coined the phrase in 1966 there has been much discussion among scholars of the "Socratic fallacy." No consensus presently exists on whether Socrates commits the "Socratic fallacy"; almost all scholars agree, however, that the "Socratic fallacy" is a bad thing and that Socrates has good reason to avoid it. I think that this consensus of scholars is mistaken. I think that what Geach has labeled a fallacy is no fallacy at all, but a perfectly innocent consequence of (...) Platonic epistemology. The "Socratic fallacy" arises from the "Priority of Definition" principle (PD). Plato is committed to (PD) in the "Meno." The "Meno" also contains a famous discussion of the difference between episteme and doxa (97a ff.). If we understand what Plato meant by episteme we can see that he must be committed to (PD); but we can also see that (PD) has none of the harmful consequences Geach attributes to it. Geach's view is indebted to Wittgenstein's philosophy of language. (PD) is implausible on this reading of the verb "to know," but not on Plato's. Plato claims that a demand for an explanation is appropriate wherever a claim to knowledge is made. Plato links the concept of episteme explicitly with the concept of logos; the connection between the terms may have been analytic. It does not follow from the Platonic conception of knowledge, as Geach argues, that it is "no use" using examples to establish general definitions. All that follows is that one cannot know that an alleged example of a term T is a genuine example until one has a general account of what it is to be T. Without the stronger conclusion, Geach cannot establish that the "Socratic fallacy" is a fallacy. (shrink)
In this article I argue (against the views of Russell Dancy and Gregory Vlastos, but in support of the views of R. E. Allen, Gail Fine, and Francesco Fronterotta) that Euthyphro 5c-d and 6d-e show that Socrates had a metaphysics, early version of the theory of forms. I disagree with Fronterotta only on the separation of the forms in the Euthyphro.
In this paper I argue against the view of G.E.L. Owen that the second version of the Third Man Argument is a sound objection to Plato's conception of Forms as paradigms and that Plato knew it. The argument can be formulated so as to be valid, but Plato need not be committed to one of its premises. Forms are self-predicative, but the ground of self-predication is not the same as that of ordinary predication.
This four volume set is a collection of some of the most significant scholarship published on the philosophy of Socrates in the last half century. The contributors include many of the most prominent scholars in this field. As the growth in Socratic studies in the past three decades is due in large part to the influential work of Gregory Vlastos, articles by him figure prominently in the collection, and works by other authors are generally related to his work. The volumes (...) deal with different areas of Socratic thought. The first volume begins with the question whether and to what degree we can discern a distinctive philosophy of Socrates in the ancient sources. The second volume deals with the trial of Socrates and the philosophical issues that arise from it. The third volume considers the philosophical methodology of Socrates and the fourth his moral philosophy. This collection shares some material with earlier collections on the philosophy of Socrates, but it is more extensive and up-to-date. Unlike other collections, which may offer the reader only a single article on a given topic, this collection offers a conversation in-depth. The reader can thus get a sense of the dimensions of the scholarly debate on these central issues in the philosophy of Socrates. No collection can be complete, but this aims at a representative portrait of Socratic studies in the last fifty years. (shrink)
In this article I argue that "Timaeus" 48e-52d, the passage in which Plato introduces the receptacle into his ontology, Contains the material for a satisfactory response to the third man argument. Plato's use of "this" and "such" to distinguish the receptacle, Becoming, And the forms clarifies the nature of his ontology and indicates that the forms are not, In general, self-predicative. This result removes one argument against regarding the "Timaeus" as a late dialogue.
Following R. E. Allen I argue, against the view of Gregory Vlastos that the Socrates of Plato's early dialogues was exclusively a moral philosopher, that there is a metaphysics, an early version of the theory of Forms, in the Euthyphro and other early dialogues. I respond to several of Vlastos's objections to this view.
I argue that it was not Plato's intention in his Socratic dialogues to provide a biography of Socrates. Rather, his intention was to describe and defend the philosophical life against its critics. The Socratic dialogues are "unhappy encounters" between Socrates, defender of the life of philosophy, and those who do not comprehend or who reject that life.
Scholars often assume that when Plato said that Forms are paradeigmata he meant that they were exemplars of the property they represent. I argue that "paradeigma" is better read as "pattern" than "exemplar." This reading is compatible with Plato's use of the term in all passages except Parm. 132d, where Parmenides misinterprets the term to make the theory of Forms susceptible to the Third Man Argument.
I argue that, when Alcibiades' encomium to Socrates is interpreted in light of Socrates' presentation of Diotima's speech, which immediately proceeds it, it shows Socrates to be at the top level of Diotima's "ladder of ascent" to Beauty. If Alcibiades is correct, Socrates' pretense of ignorance is an ironic sham. Socrates, as Plato's mystagogos, must have experiential knowledge of the Form of Beauty.
This is a brief dictionary entry on the Greek word "techne" (art or skill) as used in ancient Greek philosophy, in particular in the work of Plato and Aristotle. A techne may be a manual craft, such as carpentry, or a science, such as medicine. A techne is based on universal principles and is capable of being taught.
I argue that the sentiment of compassion is a factor of the first importance in moral theory. This sentiment, which causes us to act well toward persons in need, is an essential element in the psychology of the morally well-developed person. Moral rationalists such as Epictetus and Kant, who contend that the source of moral value is reason rather than compassion, produce a distorted picture of our moral lives. Hume’s moral psychology gives compassion the place it deserves as a motivating (...) factor in moral action.In the second part of the paper, I study the impact of moral rationalism, as manifested in the work of Peter Singer, on the question of the treatment of mentally handicapped humans. Singer’s advocacy of euthanasia for such people is a consequence of his adoption of rationalist assumptions about the value of human life, and shows the unacceptable implications of those assumptions. (shrink)
This is a brief review of Silverman's study of Plato's ontology, in particular his theory of Forms. Silverman writes from an analytic viewpoint. He accepts the developmentalist picture of Plato's thought, but holds that the development is gradual. He focuses on the issue of predication, and especially self-predication. He tends to treat Plato's ontology as a free-standing subject. All of these features are controversial. I wondered in particular whether the analytic approach required more precision than can be found in the (...) dialogues. (shrink)
Scholars who seek in Plato’s early dialogues an accurate account of the philosophy of the historical Socrates place special weight on the Apology as a source of historical information about him. Even scholars like Charles Kahn, who generally reject this historicist approach to the early dialogues, accept the Apology as a ‘quasi-historical’ document. In this paper I attempt to raise doubts about the historical reliability of the Apology. I argue that the claims used to support the historicity of the Apology (...) fall far short of establishing the Apology as an historically accurate record of the trial, and that this conclusion is affirmed even in the words of those scholars who defend the historicity of the dialogue. I urge an interpretation that treats the Apology primarily as a philosophical, not as an historical, document. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper, I argue that the sentiment of compassion is a factor of the first importance in moral theory. This sentiment, which causes us to act well toward persons in need, is an essential element in the psychology of the morally well-developed person. Moral rationalists such as Epictetus and Kant, who contend that the source of moral value is reason rather than compassion, produce a distorted picture of our moral lives. Hume’s moral psychology gives compassion (...) the place it deserves as a motivating factor in moral action.In the second part of the paper, I study the impact of moral rationalism, as manifested in the work of Peter Singer, on the question of the treatment of mentally handicapped humans. Singer’s advocacy of euthanasia for such people is a consequence of his adoption of rationalist assumptions about the value of human life, and shows the unacceptable implications of those assumptions. (shrink)