Philosophy Must Be Dragged Out of the Ivory Tower and Into the Marketplace of Ideas
This article offers a reading of the trail and death of Socrates and explore the importance of death, dialogue, and doubt for human understanding.
The well-known sixth definition of the sophist in the homonymous dialogue contains a discussion of the elenchus (230b4-e3) which is often referred to as a manifestation of the late Plato’s attitude towards this method of argumentation. It is generally assumed that the definition of the sophist ‘of noble lineage’ given here should be attributed to Socrates as represented in earlier Plato’s dialogues. Since the elenchus is associated mainly with Socrates, little, if any, attention has been paid to the elenchus in the Sophist itself. This is only partly due to the fact that Socrates is not a leading character in the dialogue; more significantly, ever since Robinson the elenchus has been believed to be an essential preliminary — but a preliminary only — to the constructive search of knowledge. The Sophist, on the contrary, pursues a rather positive task of defining the sophist and, moreover, seems to complete this task successfully — not by means of the elenchus, but by means of the diairesis. The scope of this paper is to demonstrate that the mention of the elenchus at 230b4-e3 is not merely retrospective, and to draw attention to the elenctic dimension of the whole dialogue.
The scope of this paper is to enquire into the nature of the so called ‘Socratic protreptic’. P. Harlich (1889) and K. Gaiser (1959) suggested that the ‘Socratic protreptic’ was a kind of transitional form from sophistic presentations to early Plato’s dialogues. Diogenus Laertius only mentions the protreptics of Antisthenes (VP VI. 2) and Aristippus (VP II. 85), but there are two texts that came to be considered as protreptics as a result оf Gaiser’s Protreptik und Paränese bei Platon: Xenophons’ Memorabilia 4.2 and the Alcibiades of Aeschines. These texts, along with the spurious First Alcibiades, were included into the protreptic corpus by S.R. Slings (1999). We argue that Gaiser’s approach is somewhat problematical, since the influence of Aeschines is not beyond any doubt. In the end, we focus on differences (both in structure and in content) between the ‘Socratic protreptic’ and those texts that were explicitly marked as protreptic in the IV century BC (Euthydemus, Clitiphon), which brings us to the problem of genre-definition.
The distance between the two essays - "The Socrates" by Pierre Hadot and "On the life teachings and sayings of famous philosophers" by Diogenes Laertius – amounts in more than one and a half thousand years. XX century philosophy historian Pierre Hadot represented Socrates as the typical exemplification of ancient philosophy. His approach explained the ancient philosophy primarily as a way of living, as a constant spiritual exercise for the sake of revelation and no way the theoretical doctrine. Philosophy historian of Hellenistic period Laertius considers to keep up with this attitude due to his lifetime and sphere of interest. In fact, he represents the ancient philosophy himself. Present analysis depicts the Hadot and Laertius representations of Socrates as a philosopher and deals with revealing of their similarities.
This volume approaches the 'Socratic question' from a viewpoint that departs radically from mainstream lines of interpretation. The focus is not on the 'formal order' of the Socratics, that is on their subdivision in 'schools' and the 'doctrines' peculiar to each, but on the theoretical issues that these thinkers were able to develop in the fierce struggle among themselves. This collection features the revised versions of the papers presented at 'Socratica III - a conference on Socrates, the Socratics, and the ancient Socratic literature'. This conference is the latest of a series of Socratica symposia, previously held in Senigallia (2005) and Naples (2008), which were devoted to the developments of the research on the complex world serving as a context for Plato and his dialogues. This volume approaches the 'Socratic question' from a viewpoint that departs radically from mainstream lines of interpretation. The focus is not on the 'formal order' of the Socratics, that is on their subdivision in 'schools' and the 'doctrines' peculiar to each, but on the theoretical issues that these thinkers were able to develop in the fierce struggle among themselves. The papers dwell on the dynamic context in which these issues were posed, discussed, and eventually fixed in dogmatic theories within the philosophical and non-philosophical Greek literature of the V and IV centuries B.C. Following topics are examined: 1. the 'intellectual movement' around Socrates, i.e. Aristophanes and Comedy, Isocrates, Antisthenes, Chaerephon, Aeschines, Plato, and Xenophon; 2. the literary context in which the texts of the Socratics are framed; 3. major topics discussed within this movement, and their development within and outside the Socratic circle (apologetics, dialectics, politics, misology, eudaimonia, eusebeia, Eros, enthousiasmos, parrhesia, protreptics, spoudaiogeloion, epistemology and teleology); the reception of these issues in Late Antiquity, from Aristotle up to the Stoic, Neoplatonic and Arab traditions; 4. the state of the art of the 'Socratic question', and reviews of the major publications that appeared on Socrates and the Socratics between 2010 and 2011 (D. Morrison's Companion, L.-A. Dorion's and F. Bevilacqua's editions of the Memorabilia, and V. Gray's works on Xenophon and G. Danzig's book on the apologetic side of the earlier Socratic literature).