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« The persistance of dualism | Main | How important was Darwin to philosophy? »

September 05, 2009


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I love classical philosophy, espescially Plato. (btw, I'm going to start reading your blog regularly).

Aaron Boyden

Good to see you! I somehow thought you'd been reading it before, and wondered why I never got any comments from you. I've now added the literacyupdate blog to my blog reader, so you'll probably be seeing comments from me there once in a while.

Jim Farmelant

After 2500 years, Plato's dialog, "Euthyphro" still remains the best demolition of divine commandment ethics available. That's its main importance IMO. As to whether spending one's time conversing with Socrates made one a better person or not, I guess the evidence on that point seems mixed. Arguably, people like Plato were the better for the time they spent with Socrates. But on the other hand, some of the worst people in Athenian public life such as Alcibiades had been students of Socrates too, as were some of the members of the Thirty Tyrants who ruled Athens following the city's defeat in the Peloponnesian War. Arguably, these people's time with Socrates helped to make them better demagogues. Plato later on argued that the sophists had a corrupting influence on their students but not all of Socrates's did much better either. Facts like that were cited against Socrates during his trial.

Just a side note: I recommend Plato Unmasked by Keith Quincy which supplies a much-needed context for Plato's dialogues.

Knowing more about who the characters are based upon makes me much more sympathetic to Socrates's interlocutors than I was before. Typically Plato prefers to make a strawman out of those with whom he disagrees, and thus valorizes his preferred anti-democratic agenda.

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