The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

The Method of Division in Plato's Phaedrus

Charles Griswold, Boston University

Charles Griswold presented “The Method of Division in Plato’s Phaedrus” to the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy meeting with the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association May 1, 1986, in St. Louis. It is incorporated in his book Self-Knowledge in Plato’s Phaedrus, Penn State University Press 1986.

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Socrates uses the speeches in the Phaedrus as paradigms of the art of division and collection. The material or natures that Socrates analyzes are thus pregiven: his divisions and collections are retrospective in that they depend on a prior understanding and articulation of the 'natures' (eros, madness, soul) in question. The techne is not a way of discovering new knowledge, it is a way of organizing something one already knows or thinks one knows. The techne is retrospective, but not recollective in the palinode's sense.