'Philosophy' in Plato's Phaedrus
The Phaedrus depicts the Platonic Socrates’ most explicit exhortation to ‘philosophy’. The dialogue thereby reveals something of his idea of its nature. Unfortunately, what it reveals has been obscured by two habits in the scholarship: (i) to ignore the remarks Socrates makes about ‘philosophy’ that do not arise in the ‘Palinode’; and (ii) to treat many of those remarks as parodies of Isocrates’ competing definition of the term. I remove these obscurities by addressing all fourteen remarks about ‘philosophy’ and by showing that for none do we have reason to attribute to them Isocratean meaning. We thereby learn that ‘philosophy’ does not refer essentially to contemplation of the forms but to conversation concerned with selfimprovement and the pursuit of truth.
Socrates, philosophia, conversation, self-improvement, Charmides, Protagoras
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