Ethics and argument in Plato’s Socrates

Julia Annas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


SYSTEMATIZING SOCRATES Socrates is a figure in all of Plato's dialogues except the Laws; and in all the dialogues in which he occurs, Socrates illustrates something important to Plato about philosophy and the way it should be pursued. However, as soon as we try to think of Socrates as an intellectual personality unified across dialogues, we run into the need to take an interpretative stance. There has recently been increased focus on the radically different lines taken by developmentalism, which sees Plato's works in terms of an overall development of thought between dialogues, and unitarianism, which leads us to approach Plato in terms of themes across dialogues. In this paper I aim to continue in a constructive and friendly way a debate on this issue with Dorothea Frede, hoping to develop a point of debate between us in a (relatively) new direction. It is a pleasure to offer this paper to Dorothea, whose work on Plato has excited and benefited us all. Developmentalists see progress from Socrates as negative arguer to Socrates as positive expounder. As far as this development is concerned, we can separate off those dialogues where Socrates takes part only in a short introductory conversation, and the rest is carried on by somebody else, like the Eleatic Visitor or Timaeus. When we look at Sophist, Statesman, Timaeus or Critias we find that Socrates' presence in these dialogues is important, but not central to the issue of this development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Virtuous Life in Greek Ethics
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780511482595
ISBN (Print)0521859379, 9780521859370
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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