Chapter 2 :The GREEKS

PLATO'S  DIALOGUES

Scholars have studied Plato's many dialogues very carefully.  Many of them agree that the dialogues were written over many years and that they appear to have a slightly different tone, which reflects Plato's intention in writing them.  Indeed, scholars who find in them a progression of ideas set the dialogues in a temporal order.  Plato works from those ideas and methodology he inherits from Socrates and then devises his own unique set of ideas and further develops the dialectical method of reasoning, which he learned from Socrates.  

Below is a breakdown of the Dialogues into five different categories or periods.  In each group are those dialogues that appear to have been written with intent different from that of the other periods.  In this course we shall see the progression throughout the first three periods.  

Chronological Listing

of

Plato’s Dialogues

 

Plato’s basic problems and periods of philosophical development together with dialogues indicative of such.  (The links are to translations by Benjamin Jowett.)

 I.          The defense of Socrates from the charges of impiety and corruption of youth. 

Lysis,  Charmides,   Laches ,    Euthyphro   Apology   Crito

            (Phaedo envisaged or begun but completed later.)

 

II.         The defense of Socrates from the charge of being a Sophist and having an Amoral character.

            In these dialogues there is an attack against the Sophists.  

Ion, Hippias Minor, Gorgias,  Menexenus,  Protagoras,  Euthydemus,  Cratylus, Meno    (Republic, Book I, probably called Thrasymachus)

  

III.       The need to synthesize a comprehensive view of reality and to deal with the problem of contradictory speculative theories circulating at the time.  Plato is synthesizing all of Greek thought up to the time.  

Phaedo, Symposium, Phaedrus, Republic   

IV.       The need to develop in a critical fashion such a conceptual framework that would be capable of enunciating all the distinctions one must make in describing reality and yet capable of eliciting the meanings one must have.  Plato develops a single coherent worldview.  

Parmenides, Thaetetus, Sophist, Statesman, Timaeus,Critias (incomplete) Hermocrates (projected but never written)  

V.        The need to give a detailed elaboration of practical proposals as tests for theories.

 Letters VII, VIII,  Philebus, Laws (Plato modifies the Republic)  

Note: There exist a number of spurious dialogues and dialogues whose authenticity is questioned by many serious scholars.   

The above is based on Robert S. Brumbaugh, Plato and the Modern Age    New York: Crowell Collier Press,  1962

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READ : The Platonic Canon by Twyla Gibson, Ph.D.
Senior McLuhan Fellow at http://www.mcluhan.utoronto.ca/tsc_platonic_canon.htm

" not only is Plato significant as the author of the first comprehensive collection of prose philosophy to be put "on paper," he is also unique among authors of the classical age in that all of the written works credited to him by the ancients have been preserved.  One of the difficulties in reconstructing Plato's philosophy, then, is that we are dealing with a puzzle that contains extra pieces. "

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Read about Plato and His Dialogues  by Bernard F. Suzanne   at http://eawc.evansville.edu/essays/suzanne.htm

with a list and links to all works of Plato that are known to us.  They are provided through the Persues  project at Tufts University.   Another site for dialogues translated into English:   http://www.eserver.org/philosophy/ 

Proceed to the next section by clicking here> next section.

© Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2000. All Rights reserved.

Web Surfer's Caveat: These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. They should be read as such. They are not intended for publication or general distribution.

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