Clitophon's Challenge: Dialectic in Plato's Meno, Phaedo, and Republic

ISBN : 9780199324835

Hugh H. Benson
328 Pages
162 x 237 mm
Pub date
May 2015
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Hugh H. Benson explores Plato's answer to Clitophon's challenge, the question of how one can acquire the knowledge Socrates argues is essential to human flourishing-knowledge we all seem to lack. Plato suggests two methods by which this knowledge may be gained: the first is learning from those who already have the knowledge one seeks, and the second is discovering the knowledge one seeks on one's own. The book begins with a brief look at some of the Socratic dialogues where Plato appears to recommend the former approach while simultaneously indicating various difficulties in pursuing it. The remainder of the book focuses on Plato's recommendation in some of his most important and central dialogues-the Meno, Phaedo, and Republic-for carrying out the second approach: de novo inquiry. The book turns first to the famous paradox concerning the possibility of such an inquiry and explores Plato's apparent solution. Having defended the possibility of de novo inquiry as a response to Clitophon's challenge, Plato explains the method or procedure by which such inquiry is to be carried out. The book defends the controversial thesis that the method of hypothesis, as described and practiced in the Meno, Phaedo, and Republic, is, when practiced correctly, Plato's recommended method of acquiring on one's own the essential knowledge we lack. The method of hypothesis when practiced correctly is, then, Platonic dialectic, and this is Plato's response to Clitophon's challenge. "-Nicholas Smith, James F. Miller Professor of Humanities, Lewis and Clark College "-Charles Brittain, Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy and Humane Letters, Cornell University


Chapter 1: Clitophon's Challenge
Chapter 2: Learning from Others in the Elenctic Dialogues
Chapter 3: Meno's Paradox & the Theory of Recollection
Chapter 4: The Method of Hypothesis: Not A Mere Second Best
Chapter 5: The Method of Hypothesis: A Preliminary Sketch
Chapter 6: The Method of Hypothesis: Socrates at Work in the Meno
Chapter 7: The Method of Hypothesis: Socrates at Work in the Phaedo
Chapter 8: The Method of Hypothesis: Socrates At Work in the Republic
Chapter 9: Dialectic in the Republic

About the author: 

Hugh H. Benson is Professor and former Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma. He is a Samuel Roberts Noble Presidential Professor, the editor of Essays on the Philosophy of Socrates (OUP 1992), Blackwell Companion to Plato (Blackwell, 2006), and the author of Socratic Wisdom (OUP 2000) and various articles on the philosophy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

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