The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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My focus here is the discussion between Critias and Socrates regarding the message of the oracle at Delphi: “Know yourself”. This is the only substantive discussion of the oracle outside the Apology, so we should give it careful attention, if we are at all interested in the philosophy of Socrates and those who in any way follow or depart from him. For though sôphrosunê may be elusive, the dialogue makes it clear that it is deeply connected, whatever its nature is, to the philosophical outlook of Socrates, tying together his ethical and epistemological stances. The task of understanding sôphrosunê is thus doubly important: not only will it give us a supremely insightful glimpse into Socrates and his philosophical activity, it will also yield a glimpse into ourselves, if its elusiveness is indeed rooted in an understanding of human nature that is alien to that of Socrates.


Alan Pichanick presented “Self-Knowledge, Tyranny, and the Delphic Oracle in Plato’s Charmides” to the Society at its meeting with the American Philological Association in Montreal in 2006. A related paper was published as “Sophrosyne, Socratic Therapy, and Platonic Drama in Plato’s CharmidesEpoche August 19, 2016.

Alan Pichanick teaches at Villanova University.