For Plato, philosophy depends on, or is perhaps even identical with, dialectic. Few will dispute this claim, but there is little agreement as to what Platonic dialectic is. According to a now prevailing view it is a method for inquiry the conception of which changed so radically for Plato that it "had a strong tendency ... to mean ‘the ideal method’, whatever that may be" (Richard Robinson). Most studies of Platonic dialectic accordingly focus on only one aspect of this method that allegedly characterizes one specific period in Plato’s development.
This volume offers fresh perspectives on Platonic dialectic. Its 13 chapters present a comprehensive picture of this crucial aspect of Plato’s philosophy and seek to clarify what Plato takes to be proper dialectical procedures. They examine the ways in which these procedures are related to each other and other aspects of his philosophy, such as ethics, psychology, and metaphysics. Collectively, the chapters challenge the now prevailing understanding of Plato’s ideal of method.
New Perspectives on Platonic Dialectic will appeal to scholars and advanced students interested in Plato, ancient philosophy, philosophical method, and the history of logic.
Table of Contents
Jens Kristian Larsen, Vivil Valvik Haraldsen, and Justin Vlasits
1. Socrates’ Dialectical use of Hypothesis
2. The Dialectician and the Statesman in Plato’s Euthydemus
3. Dialectic in Plato’s Parmenides: The Schooling of Young Socrates
4. Dialectic as a paradigm in the Republic: On the role of reason in the just life
Vivil Valvik Haraldsen
5. Elenchus and the Method of Division in the Sophist
6. Using Examples in Philosophical Inquiry: Plato’s Statesman 277d1-278e2 and 285c4-286b2
Jens Kristian Larsen
7. Examples in the Meno
Peter D. Larsen
8. Between Variety and Unity. How to deal with Plato´s Dialectic
9. Dialectic and the Ability to Orient Ourselves: Republic V-VII
10. Another Platonic Method: Four genealogical myths about human nature and their philosophical contribution in Plato
11. Dialectic in Plato's Sophist: The relation between the question ‘What is being?’ and the question ‘What is there?’
12. Dialectic as Philosophical Divination in Plato’s Phaedrus
13. Plato on the Varieties of Knowledge
Jens Kristian Larsen is Associate Professor of Philosophy at NTNU, Norway. He specializes in ancient philosophy, in particular Plato, and phenomenology. He recently published "What are Collections and Divisions Good for? A reconsideration of Plato’s Phaedrus (2020) and co-edited the anthology Phenomenological Interpretations of Ancient Philosophy (2021).
Vivil Valvik Haraldsen is ph.d.-candidate in philosophy at the University of Oslo. She has published articles on Plato’s Republic and book chapters on Plato’s Protagoras, Phaedrus, and Apology of Socrates, and has co-edited the anthology Readings of Plato’s Apology of Socrates: Defending the Philosophical Life (2018).
Justin Vlasits is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He specializes in all periods of ancient philosophy, with special emphasis on logic and philosophy of science. He has co-edited Epistemology after Sextus Empiricus with Katja Maria Vogt (2020).
"I find this a most useful volume, in which interesting new insights on an admittedly fairly well-worn subject are presented. Its most important feature is an insistence on the continuity of Plato’s thought, and on the degree to which various different strategies of argument that appear in dialogues of various periods, the Socratic elenchus, hypothesis, and ‘collection and division’, are seen to be compatible and coherent. This goes counter to the views of many modern interpreters of Plato, but I think it is a perspective well worth developing, and it is accomplished with vigour here." – John Dillon, Trinity College Dublin