The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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Perhaps the most remarkable feature of Socrates’ philosophical method is how unsuccessful it is. One problem is that elenchus seems able only to destroy common belief without generating anything substantive in its place. Another is that it seems incapable of getting anyone to relinquish his unsupported beliefs. Plato is acutely aware of these problems. In the Meno, he undertakes to show that Socrates’ method of inquiry is capable of generating substantive results. In the Gorgias, he reveals why some people are not moved by reasoned argument. And in the Republic he proposes a complex model of moral belief-formation, which explains the possibility of breakdown in Socratic method, and points the way to a resolution.


Dylan Futter presented “Belief and Persuasion in the Socratic Elenchus” to the Society at its meeting with the Central Division in Chicago in 2008.

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