Chapter 2 :The GREEKS
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
Plato’s basic problems and periods of philosophical development together
with dialogues indicative of such. (
(The links are to translations by Benjamin Jowett.)
The defense of Socrates from
the charges of
and corruption of youth.
(Phaedo envisaged or begun but completed later.)
The defense of Socrates from
the charge of being a Sophist and having an Amoral character.
these dialogues there is an attack against the Sophists.
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.
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.
The need to give a detailed
elaboration of practical proposals as tests for theories.
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,
and the Modern Age
: The Platonic Canon
" 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.
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:
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.
|Return to: Table of Contents for the Online Textbook|