For Socrates, philosophy is not like Christian conversion from error to truth, but rather it is like the pagan process whereby a young man is initiated into cult mysteries by a more experienced man - the mystagogos - who prepares him and leads him to the sacred precinct. In Greek cult religion, the mystagogos prepared the initiate for the esoteric mysteries revealed by the hierophant. Socrates treats traditional wisdom with scepticism, and this makes him appear ridiculous or dangerous in the eyes of cultural conservatives. Nevertheless, his scepticism is not radical: custom is not something on which we must turn our backs if we are to pursue the truth. Socrates assumes an epistemology and employs a method by which he induces his companions to begin the critical and self-critical process of philosophical inquiry, not ignoring conventional wisdom, but thinking through and reinterpreting it as they make constructive progress towards the truth. He provides conclusive and convincing arguments in support of controversial answers to some of the most important moral questions he poses.
"How should we think about what Socrates is doing when he engages this or that youth in conversation? Don Adams’ book offers an answer to this question, inspired by an ancient Greek religious ritual: Socrates is on a mystagogic mission to sting his interlocutor into an epistemological state of inquiry …Socrates Mystagogos: Initiation into Inquiry is a thought-provoking defense of Socratic practice that will be of interest to a mixed, if not quite well-defined, scholarly audience."
- Andreas Avgousti, Columbia University, USA, in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2017
Chapter 1: Socratic Skepticism
Section 1: Subversive and Unversive Transgression in Comedy
Section 2: Unversive Transgression in Greek Cult Festivals
Section 3: Aristophanic Conservatism, Socratic Liberalism
Section 4: The Causality of Humor
Section 5: Introducing Socrates Mystagogos
Chapter 2: Socratic Epistemology
Section 1: "The Socratic Fallacy" Refuted
Section 2: "The Socratic Fallacy" Revived
Section 3: Socratic Dogmatism
Section 4: Socratic Refutation
Section 5: Socratic "Folk Epistemology"
Section 6: Refutation, Induction, and the Use of Examples
Section 7: "The Socratic Fallacy," Again
Chapter 3: Socratic Method
Section 1: "The Problem" of the Socratic Method
Section 2: Why Socrates’ Refutations are Reasonable
Section 3: Interpretive Misconceptions
Section 4: What Guarantee does Socrates have that he is right?
Chapter 4: Socratic Piety
Section 1: Socrates the Anti-Authoritarian?
Section 2: Two Theories of Civil Disobedience
Section 3: Politico-Epistemic Humility in the Apology
Section 4: Politico-Epistemic Humility in the Crito
Section 1: Socrates Mystagogos
Section 2: Socrates and Martin Luther King
List of References