The continuity of the 'Socratic' and the 'Platonic' in Plato's dialogues
Cohen, Rosalyn S.
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The question posed by this thesis concerns the unity of Plato's thought, and arises out of the distinction commonly made between the "Socratic" dialogues and the "Platonic" dialogues^1. Such a distinction presupposes that there is something about the first set that can be delineated as distinctively "Socratic." The question which arises from this supposition is two-fold. First, what is meant by "Socratic"? Second, do we mean, by calling the later dialogues "Platonic," that they lack the "Socratic" quality? We cannot understand the meaning of "Platonic" as distinct from "Socratic" without having made explicit what it is we are referring to when we use the word "Socratic." Chapter I develops a conception of "Socratic" as the participative attitude. Philosophy as the participative attitude means engagement in dialogue, self-articulation occasioned by and possible alone in encounter with an other as other. This interpration is understood and justified as an abductive hypothesis^1, as, an elucidating concept arrived at non-abstractively. In relation to this concept of the "Socratic," there are two possibilities for the meaning of "Platonic": either the meaning of "Platonic" is incompatible with what is meant by "Socratic," or it is one way of being "Socratic" which differs from the way in which the historical Socrates was "Socratic." Chapter II is a critical discussion of the first possibility, the claim that the distinctively "Platonic" is a set of doctrines and a mode of presentation^2 Using Sophist and Statesman as a test-case, I argue that this claim leads us to expect Plato to be more univocal with regard to the contemts of his purported doctrines than we in fact find him to be. [TRUNCATED]
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